Tag Archives: gratitude

12 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

Image source from http://www.highschoolwrestlingmoves.net
  1. When you’ve caught someone in a cradle (wrestling move) you want to interlock your hands like the dude above. He’s got it right. (The one in the yellow, not the one who looks like he may cry.)
  2. If you’re scared to do something, that may mean you need to do it. (I first learned this one when Dad made me go buy my own Twizzlers at a wrestling match because I was afraid to do it by myself.)
  3. Learning how to properly perform a deadlift will ensure you “lift with your legs, not your back” for the rest of your life.
  4. Building a broad vocabulary at a young age will help you not sound like a moron as an adult.
  5. Without rules, there is chaos. (I wasn’t so pleased with this one as a teenager.)
  6. When learning to drive a stickshift, one must also practice how to stop on a dime. (As we were driving along a country road, Dad would yell out, “STOP!”, and I was to jam on the brake and the clutch at the same time. There were also traffic cones involved in my training. And tears. There were tears.)
  7. If you’re going to do something, learn how to do it to the best of your ability.
  8. Waking up before dawn is a part of the true Indy 500 experience.
  9. When taking your family camping, buy a tent that is easy to install.
  10. If you own a fast car, others drivers will want to race you. Go ahead and race them. (Haha, kiding….. But we did. And we won.)
  11. A hedge trimmer is just as frightening to a child as a chainsaw…if you turn out the lights.

But most importantly…

12. A good dad is one you’ll turn to for advice well into adulthood.

Conversations With Myself: Reversing Negative Internal Dialogue

Image source: http://www.mindislife.com/tag/imagination
Image source: http://www.mindislife.com

Consider this for a moment, if you will…

You invite a friend to your home. Upon her arrival, you inform her that her outfit looks terrible and that she could really afford to lose a couple pounds. When she speaks, you let her know her thoughts are silly and invalid. When she says she is hungry, you tell her she doesn’t need to eat and hand her a piece of gum. OR, maybe just give her an entire package of cookies to go ahead and finish off because her weight is already “too far gone.”

You’d never do this, would you?

And yet, many of us treat ourselves in this manner on a daily basis. I confess, I am one of them. I struggle to feel the same love and tenderness for myself that I can easily muster for others.

The reality is, you (and me) are just as deserving. Just as worthy of love.

All of us have a running internal dialogue. Some feelings and thoughts may be so deeply ingrained that we no longer realize when we are silently judging and sabotaging ourselves. My challenge to myself today is to become more aware of that internal dialogue and to turn around the negative thoughts when they arise, to choose to treat myself as I would a friend.

What might this mean for you? In what aspect of your life could you benefit from slowing down and offering yourself that which you would freely give to someone you loved?

10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Mom

Image source from https://deathandglorytaxidermy.wordpress.com/2013/06/18/broken-butterflies/. Check out this blogger's taxidermied butterfly art. It's incredible!
Image source from https://deathandglorytaxidermy.wordpress.com. Check out this blogger’s taxidermied butterfly art. It’s incredible!
  1. If you need a little mood boost, there’s nothing like taking a hot shower or bath and then slathering your neck and chest in a yummy-smelling lotion. That little act of self-care can do a lot. (I remember Mom letting me use her special Avon cream.)
  2. Presentation is everything. Cakes, tables, presents…taking the time to put them together with love and care says a great deal to the receiver of these things. (Still, I’ll never be able to wrap a gift like my mother.)
  3. If you can’t figure out what’s wrong, it’s probably HORMONES.
  4. When decorating your home, consider using an odd number of items.
  5. Giving truly is better than receiving. (My mother is one of the most generous people I have ever met. She derives so much pleasure from picking out gifts for others.)
  6. Sometimes all a person really needs is for someone to listen.
  7. The proper way to measure flour for baking is to spoon it into the cup, then even the top off with the edge of a knife.
  8. By using your pinkie, thumb and index finger you can create a little “gun” for shooting rubber bands.
  9. The deepest beauty is found in simplicity. (When I was little…wee little…Mom would strap me into the bike seat and we would ride around town looking for pretty things…a butterfly wing, a stone, a colorful leaf. I’ve never forgotten this.)
  10. The true meaning of unconditional love. (I love you, Momma.)

M is for March (and Mindfulness, revisited)

march

March has arrived, and though it is snowing this morning, spring is just around the corner. I mentioned my love for fresh starts in my New Year’s post, so I thought I’d take a moment to set my intentions for the coming weeks.

My focus this month is on mindfulness and really encouraging myself to be in the moment. Such a simple idea! And yet so, so challenging. Far too often I catch myself fretting about the day ahead, the week to come, over-analyzing past moments, working myself into a frenzy about how I will deal with all the “ifs.” None of this is beneficial to me. It is living in a cloud, blind and fumbling.

Being present in the moment allows one to truly experience the beauty in the simplest actions. Our senses are continuously providing us with a wealth of information, but if we aren’t paying attention, we miss out. My goal is to catch myself when my mind is wandering into modes of thought which are unhelpful and retrain my concentration to what is happening in that moment.

As I write this, my cat is purring like a freight-train on my lap. My tea is hot and tastes faintly of vanilla. Outside, fur trees are blanketed in snow. I could just as easily have missed all this had I not brought my attention to the “now.”

More of this, Holly. More of this.

Seriously…stop and smell the flowers.

By default, my brain is a negativity sponge. Left to its own devices, it would put down roots in the land of all that is gloomy, cloudy, gray and uncomfortable. Preventing this takes work. Every day is a choice: Give in and ruminate in sadness or fight like hell.

I will say that years of practice have made the fighting, or rather the knowing how to fight, a little easier. For instance, you won’t generally find me sitting alone in the dark; If a room has curtains or blinds, expect me to open them. I’m wary about the music I listen to and the movies I watch. I almost always do some kind of chore while I wait for my coffee to brew in the morning because it helps me to productively pass the precarious minutes between asleep and awake time. This is important because those minutes have the capacity to set the tone for the entire day.

Perhaps most importantly, I am learning how to look for the good in each day. My hope is that slowly but surely my brain will start to see these things naturally, that the effort to be consistently happy will be less difficult. And I have reason to think this could be the case. Studies in neuroplasticity show that, contrary to popular belief, the brain continues to rewire itself throughout life. Exposure to difficult and/or new experiences can actually change the physical structure of the brain! How fucking cool is that?!

In the meantime, spring has finally arrived in Indiana and with it, so many reasons to feel happy and hopeful. Just look at that blue sky!

IMG_20140409_143541

Lying in bed last night, I was thinking about the similarities between spring and the end of an episode of depression. Both bring a sense of new life and an enhanced appreciation for all the little things. While I certainly don’t recommend taking a spin at depression (“All Aboard Misery Cruiselines!”), I do believe that experiencing a particularly rough patch of life can help one to better appreciate moments that might otherwise be taken for granted.

Take a moment today to step outside and feel with all your senses.

Stop. Be still. Close your eyes and breathe.