Posts tagged: holiday

Thoughts for a New Year

Life Simplified: Thoughts for a New Year

photo credit: bfhoyt via flickr

Welcome 2012!

2011 was filled with lots of ups and downs. Of my friends some say it was a great year. Others were happy to move on.

You know, I think it’s all about perspective.

In 365 days you can experience a lot.  It’s what you focus on that shapes your perspective.  I don’t know about you, but when I leave my thoughts unchecked, I can tend to focus on the hard stuff, the negative stuff, and the just plain depressing stuff.

I think all of us fall into this trap.  When I was in retail, most of my employees could tell you about all the negative customers, but in retrospect they were a handful compared to the hundreds of happy people we served.  Because the happy people were easy, they got overlooked.

Last night we celebrated New Year by cooking several Julia Child dishes.  Here’s a woman full of perspective.  Butter was her middle name, yet she never worried about cholesterol.  Life was an adventure for her.  Even though she didn’t find her calling until later in life, she always looked at the next step with enthusiasm.  Where you might find most people moaning, you could find Julia Child eager to explore.

A Balancing Exercise

To make sure I balance my perspective, every year I go back through my calendar to remind myself of all the awesome things that happened the previous year.  It’s a great exercise to put things back into perspective.  Sometimes even the yucky stuff can have a positive outcome you couldn’t see at the time.

You have a choice for 2012.  You can focus on the things that “went wrong” or you can focus on all the small positive things.  I choose the later, how about you?

Yes, there is a Santa Claus

Yes, there is a santa

Yes, There Is A Santa

Do You Still Believe in Santa?

Or is that a silly question?

Part of the magic of Christmas is when the unexpected happens.  Sure it’s nice when what we want shows up, but it’s the unexpected the sparks the flame of Christmas magic.

In Search of Santa

When I started to question if the big guy existed, my heart grew heavy.  If there was no Santa, there was no Christmas.  How could that be?

I remember as clear as if it were yesterday talking to my mother in her bedroom about Santa.  I was in tears asking the question.  I so desperately wanted to believe, but a kid hears things.  My mother gave me the best gift that year.

She told me of course Santa exists.  He’s always with you and his spirit is what makes the little things happen all throughout the year.  The only thing is you have to believe to see the magic.

When You Believe – There’s Magic Everywhere

Today, I see his magic everywhere.  In the face of the Salvation Army person, or the heart of someone paying off another’s gifts.  It’s in finding that perfect gift at a ridiculously low price.  It’s coming up with something so unexpected it makes the other person cry.

A Special Visit From St. Nick

The year my mother passed away, she had everything ready for Christmas.  The gifts were wrapped.  The food was prepared.  We took special time the afternoon of Christmas to all re-gather and open her special gifts.  It was as if each had been touched by Santa personally.  We saved the hand painted gift tags with our names on it.  We cried over that perfect book.

My father opened the last gift.  In it was a small heart shaped plaque…something my mother would never have bought him, honestly.  On it was inscribed – “The Best Gift of All Is Family.”  Now if that wasn’t a message from Santa, I don’t know what is.

Santa Claus is Love

You don’t need to look for a jolly man in a red suit to believe in Santa.  All you need to do is look in your heart, just like we’re reminded in the article Yes, Virginia There Is A Santa Claus. (click on the clipping to read the article)

Yes Virginia there is a santa claus

The Joy of Baking

The Joy of Baking - Jen's Shortbread

photo credit: Friends Food Family - Jen's Shortbread

Let the Baking Begin

Today begins my last baking session of the holiday season.

There’s part of me that can’t wait to dive right in.  There’s another part that dreads the mess, confusion, and chaos I tend to produce when I’m baking.  For me it’s all or nothing.  I don’t just bake a nice batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I bake chocolate chip cookies, shortbread, meringues, Russian tea cookies (we call them snow balls), florentines, peanut butter blossoms and usually a couple of other cookies.  There’s never oven downtime.

How can this be joyful?

I realized as I put my first batch of meringues in the oven this morning that it’s about baking the most delicious things.   Then giving them all away. I never think about eating the cookies.  You really don’t feel like eating cookies after baking so many.  Instead I think of the happiness a little flour and sugar can bring to so many people.  That’s where the joy lies.

It’s actually a lesson I’m taking into my business this year.

Bringing Joy to My Business Plan

I’m in the middle of planning my calendar for Life Simplified; workshops, speaking engagements, etc.  The process stretches every part of me.  I have to be creative, logical and realistic.  It’s exhausting!

Over the last three days, I have to admit I lost some of my holiday energy.  It was being sucked up by a migraine caused, no doubt, by the stress of planning for the new year, not eating properly (because of the stress) and getting dehydrated.

A New Day.  A New Joyful Focus.

When I woke up this morning ready for the final wave of baking, I felt wonderful.  Even though my baking was going to be chaotic, like my planning, there was little to no stress.  I was focused on the joy I was going to deliver to others not the chaos.  It energized me, focused me, and made me literally jump out of bed this morning.

Think Beyond Yourself, Your Business, Your Family

Baking, gift giving, donating, volunteering all require you to think beyond yourself.  When you think about other people the whole world shifts and slivers of joyful light crack through the dull gray of chaos.

This year my business plan will also include my giving plan.  I want to help over 100 new business people move toward their goals and dreams this year.  Just that thought has inspired me to review the plans scattered over my desk.  It’s given me focus and determination…all this from baking Christmas cookies.

I focus on the joy I can give to others and receive even more.

Lessons From This Year’s Gingerbread House

Lessons from the gingerbread house


Creating A Gingerbread House

This weekend I built a Gingerbread House…and it was kind of like having a kid.

I know its a weird analogy, but here’s why.

Several months ago, I agreed to make another gingerbread house this year.  I’ve done this in the past for my nephews to decorate, but after last year’s failed attempt to engage them, I decided, I would do one from beginning to end by myself.  I was excited to create something pretty instead of something the boys spent 10 minutes decorating.

I planned, scheduled and finally Saturday came.  I had all the ingredients.  I set aside the time so I began.  Baking is magic to me because you take ordinary ingredients that on their own don’t mean much.  Then they end up as a spicy dough ready to be rolled out.

The rolling, measuring and baking all went fine.

Next…assembly.  It was painful!  I’d get two walls up and try to add a third and it would collapse in on itself.  I even got all the pieces to work together and when I put the last roof piece up, I noticed one of the walls falling inward.  Apart it came again.   I worked for 6 hours and finally all but one piece was in place.  Not taking any chances, I left it alone until morning.

Sunday morning at 6:00am I was back at it.  I couldn’t sleep.  I had to get the last roof piece up.  Once I did, I walked away for 4 hours just to make sure I wouldn’t nudge it out of place.

It Stayed Up!

When I came into the kitchen around 10:00 it was all still in one piece.  Phew!  Onto decorating.

As I placed each candy on the house, it started to come together.  My creative juices were flowing.  In addition to the house, I added a meringue stone fence, skating pond and outdoor Christmas tree.

I delivered it to my sister’s house later that day for our Christmas table.  Once it was on it’s own away from the chaos of my kitchen, all the pain and misery I felt the night before was gone.  The house was beautiful, especially when we plugged in the light I installed.

All Creation Is A Little Uncomfortable

The moral of the story is, having a kid isn’t easy and neither is creating anything.  It takes patience, love and commitment.  There’s bound to be a bit of pain in the process, but in the end you’re left with something unique that never existed before.  Just something to think about as we head into the holidays and new year.

I apply patience, love and commitment to all I do.  In return, I achieve success.

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Child

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Child

photo credit: kelp via flickr

It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year

Remember when the holidays were the most magical time of the year?

They still can be when we tap into that little girl or boy living deep within us.

Let Your Inner Child Out

It’s not often we can publicly display our inner child, but at the holidays it’s totally acceptable.  What did you like most about the holidays?  Was it the lights?  The music?  The cookies?

Tap into those passions and rediscover the joy in them again this week.  I’ll bet you can’t help yourself from giggling out loud.

Playing Hide and Seek With Your Inner Child

If you’ve been in your adult skin too long, you may have trouble touching base with that 5 year old inside.  I have a remedy for that as well.  Go hang out with kids.  At my old office this past year, they had a bunch of kindergarten children come and sing Christmas carols.  Just the pictures melted my heart.  It may be too late to orchestrate something like that at your office, but I’m sure there’s a school something happening this week.  Try the libraries too.  Story hour is a great time to watch the amazement in a child’s face as they hear a treasured story for the first time.

Those don’t work for you?

How about watching your favorite Christmas kids show.  Two of mine are Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town and The Little Drummer Boy.  I also have been known to sing along with the Muppets Christmas Carol.  You be those are on the television as I’m wrapping the fun gifts I bought for my nephews.

Be Careful…You Might Find Magic

Getting in touch with your inner child will open your eyes to the magic and joy of the season beyond the mall, traffic and last minute errands.  Tonight take a ride just to enjoy the lights or go caroling.  In our town we have a town sing along on Thursday.  My inner child can’t wait to go.  Wanna come?

I tap into my inner child to enjoy the magic of the holidays.

Giving a Little. Loving a Lot.

Giving A Little.  Loving a Lot

photo credit: littlesister

What was Christmas like when you were a kid?

For some of you it might have been magical, but for others the holidays can be times when want is felt more than joy, disappointment more than happiness and tears over take smiles.

When Christmas Hurts

If this week is difficult for you, my heart is there for you.  My arms are open for a virtual hug.  My kitchen open for a chat over some cookies and tea.

Not all Christmas’s have been happy for me.  There have been years when I lost the spirit and couldn’t remember what box I’d packed it away in.  I’ve been there.  I know.

A Secret…Giving

This weekend I was reminded of a small tactic that can help.  It’s the theme of all the Christmas movies…giving selflessly to another.

When you dedicate part of the holiday season for helping others, it can’t help but raise your spirit.  If it’s spending time at your child’s school, working with your church to help your community, or just lending a hand when someone needs it.

Small Selfless Acts

These small acts can give you a reason to get out in the world without going to the mall.  You get to deliver the most unique and precious gift you have, yourself, to others. Sometimes it’s one small act that can cause a chain reaction to give even more.

Selflessness is the key, however.  You can’t do it with a motive.  You can’t do it because you feel obligated.  The magic doesn’t work if you do that.  Instead focus on one person and just help.  When you do, without expectations, you’ll feel 100 times lighter when you’re done.

Yesterday I shared what my grandfather used to do.  What can you do this week to bring a little Christmas joy to one person?  I’d love to hear.

Giving selflessly is a regular part of my holiday tradition.

The Magic of Fairy Tales,Toys, and Oranges

Holiday Affirmations: Life Simplified - Fairy Tales, Toys and Oranges

photo credit: crunchyfootsteps via flickr


From now until the end of the year we’re going to explore Joy.

Genetically Wired For Christmas Joy

When I share my passion for Christmas and all it stands for, most people think I’m a little nuts.  I can’t help it.  It’s genetic.

I already shared how much my mother loved Christmas, but so did her parents.  One year I asked my grandmother why she loved Christmas.

Fairy Tales and Toys

She said Christmas was such a perfect time of year for her and my grandfather.  She loved fairy tales and my grandfather loved toys.  They both believed in generosity.  When they combined these, they had many joy filled Christmas’s

Christmas At Grandpa’s Shop

To make sure our Christmas gene was activated, each year my grandfather brought all the grandchildren and usually the Dad’s to his office.  There we stuffed bags with candy and oranges.  One of the guys dressed up as Santa.  Then they stood in front of the shop and gave the bags to the neighborhood kids.

Of course we all went kicking and screaming.  Now when I look back, I realize how precious that day was.  We were taught wonderful lessons of selfless giving and abundant joy over simple things.

One year my grandfather took a couple of us older children to deliver gifts to some of the neighborhood families.  Grandpa’s office wasn’t in the best part of the city.  That never phased my grandfather.  He saw each person as an individual not as poor, of different nationality or race.  They were families in need probably no different than he was coming from a family of 13 children.

I still feel the joy when I think of those days.  So too must my cousin who now runs my grandfather’s business with a team of people.  They’ve kept the tradition alive, as you can see.

Life Simplified: Christmas Joy at HGC in Cincinnati Ohio
photo credit: HGC, Cincinnati Ohio

Joy is Simple

Joy isn’t complicated.  It can be found in fairy tales, toys or even a bag of oranges.  What memories do you have of Christmas Joy?

I make space for joy every day of the year.

Peacefully Follow Your Bliss

Holiday Affirmations: Life Simplified - Peacefully Follow Your Bliss

photo credit: ecooper99 via flickr

Follow your bliss and the Universe will open doors where there were only walls. ~ Joseph Campbell

Holiday Bliss?

I don’t see many people following their bliss as Joseph Campbell recommends.  Instead I see a lot of hectic, frantic, panicked shoppers out there list in hand searching for the perfect gift.  And yes there are moments when I’m one of them.

Fortunately when I feel out of control, I return to this quote.

Stress and Bliss Don’t Mix

See, you can’t follow your bliss when you’re stressed.  Bliss and Stress can’t coexist in the same world.

To follow your bliss, you must find those moments of peace we’ve been talking about all week.  Once you quiet your brain focus on gratitude, love and peace, bliss naturally follows.

Bliss Opens the Doors

As Campbell reminds us, the Universe reacts positively to bliss.  It literally opens doors where you couldn’t see them only a moment before.

Today I decided to follow my bliss.  After a great meeting in the morning I had a lull between clients.  I decided to take advantage of the time and finish up my Christmas shopping.  Bliss followed me wherever I went.  The “just right” gifts presented themselves to me, in budget and without a lot of searching.

My bliss was contagious to others too.  A grumpy sales associate at more than one store smiled after I left.  What better gift can you give someone.  Even the meter man got a bag of cookies as I swung into the house just in time for my next call.

A Blissful Secret

When you peacefully choose bliss, you notice others who have done the same.  Today I caught the eye of a blissful shopper or two.  We smiled and nodded to each other, complete strangers yet sharing a secret.

Give Up The Fear

Fear and anxiety may at first feel more energizing, but they are only zapping you of your energy.  Finding peace means you’ll radiate bliss and finish your day more energized than when you started.

I peacefully follow my bliss today and every day throughout the year.

How To Travel Peacefully This Holiday Season

Holiday Affirmations: Life Simplified - Peaceful Travel

photo credit: brairwabbit

I love to travel

Seeing new places is so exciting.  I feel alive when I’m in a new environment.  Coming home, however, can be the most exhausting part of the trip.

If you’re traveling through this holiday season, I’m sure you can relate.  Whether it’s traffic, airport delays or train delays, you can lose all of your trip enthusiasm sitting in a terminal for 6 hours.

That is unless you plan for it.

In another life, I traveled a fair bit for work.  I learned a couple tricks to make sure my time in airports was peaceful, sane and actually enjoyable.  Here are some things you might try:

  • Do your holiday cards.  One trip I brought my holiday cards and between flights wrote them out. Airports usually have mailboxes so bring your stamps and check off a holiday to do.
  • Bring a favorite book.  Be it a holiday book, or just a favorite read, immerse yourself in the book not only during flights but between flights.  It will make you feel like you watched a movie the entire time.
  • Talk with someone interesting.  People traveling have wonderful stories to share.  Ask someone interesting about their trip.  Live in their adventure for a while.  I mean look at the picture above…was this Steve Jobs…now there’s an interesting conversation.
  • Get some shopping done.  One year, I knew I was traveling through the Cincinnati airport.  Since our family is from there, I found a couple of great stores and surprised my family with treats from Cincinnati without ever leaving the airport.
  • Download a feel good movie (or two).  On my 6 hour trip home from Seattle, I downloaded a couple favorite Christmas movies.  Since the plane didn’t offer anything, not only were they entertainment, but they kept me in the holiday spirit.
  • Do something nice for someone.  Buy a coffee for the person behind you at the airport Starbucks.  Wish the person at the news stand a happy holiday (and mean it…look them in the eyes and say it), help an older person with their luggage.  This all adds to the positive feeling of the holidays.

Traveling Is An Adventure

Traveling can be a chore or it can be an adventure.  You decide.  I have to say in the years of traveling and the hours of delays, I never had a bad experience.  With these tools in mind you too can travel peacefully and carry a little bit of the holiday spirit to others.

I choose to travel peacefully and lovingly during the holidays.

Meditation – A Holiday Gift For Yourself

Holiday Affirmations: Life Simplified - Meditation Your Personal Holiday Gift

photo credit: alicepopkorn

To most people I appear to be a fairly calm, centered person.  I would have to agree…with one exception.  It’s when I meditate. ~ Lynn Robinson

Meditation, Easier said than done

You hear meditation is the key to peace.  I’ve even written about that.  Let’s be real, how easy is it to calm your mind.  If Lynn Robinson an intuition expert has trouble along with Wayne Dyer, how can you expect to be perfect.

It is true, when you take moments to center and be quiet, you open up channels of energy and creativity.  It’s just getting there that’s the hard part.

Start Your Practice During This Holiday Season

Your schedule always seems to be hectic.  During the holidays it’s out of control.  Why is this the time to start a meditation practice?

The answer…a holiday season with meaning.  Isn’t that what you’re striving for with all your preparations.  Why not spend a few moments a day preparing yourself?

Where to Meditate

The other day I talked about my car meditation.  It seems this year, that’s been the best place for me to get quiet and meditate.  When I do, my gratitude and love meter instantly rises.  As I walk into a client’s office, a holiday party or the next store for one of my endless errands, I feel centered.  People seem to smile at me more.  I have wonderful conversations with people.  I notice more love around me.

I realize you may not have quiet car moments because you’re traveling with a bunch of kids or taking a conference call.  Another place to find meditation time, according to Lynn Robinson in her book Listen is before you get out of bed in the morning.

Set the alarm fifteen to thirty minutes earlier, then sit up in bed, pile some pillows under and around you, and begin to meditate.

She also recommends to spend a little time after your morning meditation envisioning your day.  How do you want it to flow?  I do this on a regular basis.  The mental rehearsal of envisioning your day, creates a path for you to follow.  Each time I do this, my day runs more smoothly and things just seem to turn out the way I saw them.

Meditation Your Special Gift

Starting a meditation practice during the holidays may seem counter intuitive.  It is however one of the best gifts you can give yourself for the year to come.

Meditation is part of my daily routine.  I’m centered.


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