Friday, December 31, 2010

It's a love story ...

My mom loves to drive around to see Christmas decorations in people’s yards. That’s one of her favorite things to do this time of year. The gaudier it is, the better she likes it.

There’s a house in our neighborhood that has so many lights on it. I’m pretty sure it can be seen from Mars. My mom commented as to how awesome it looked. I told her that I felt like it was a little over the top and I wondered how the people slept at night with all those lights. Her answer to that was, “It’s a love story.”

I have thought about that comment since she said it over a week ago. The idea that a love story is lights on a house is amazing to me. I have to agree with her. Those lights were put up with so much love and thought that it is nothing short of a love story.

Our Christmas tree

I’ve started to wonder about all the love stories that are surrounding me daily and what they are. Our Christmas tree is an example. My husband and I put up our first Christmas tree together 12 years ago. Our theme was red and gold. We bought fancy ornaments from places such as Neiman Marcus. Our tree was fabulous.

Over the years, the fancy ornaments have broken to be replaced with jewel and glitter laden cinnamon stars and felt ornaments made by our kids. We have ornaments from places we’ve visited as a family. It’s truly an adventure and a story to be told when we put up our Christmas tree. Most every ornament has a wonderful memory attached to it.

What else?

Our garden is a love story in the summer time. We start thinking about what we’re going to plant from now. We think about how juicy the tomatoes are going to be and how we can’t fathom eating cucumbers or zucchini in the winter, because they are just not the same.

Our boys’ birthday parties are a love story. They are both born in March so we start planning our fun from now. Zack wants a big bounce house again and Louie changes his mind daily.

I’ve never thought about how many love stories surround us until now. The anticipation of a joyous event, along with the fun of putting it together is all it takes to have an awesome love story!

I’d love to hear your love stories!

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Wishing you a Healthy, Prosperous and Happy New Year!


Monday, December 27, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

On Facebook, someone commented about the dreaded New Year’s resolutions the other day. The point was that we always make these resolutions that are too hard and somewhat unreasonable. Most resolutions last about three to five weeks, then we’re over them and back to the same old ways we were before.

I don’t believe that is totally unrealistic. Why would it take for one day out of the year to be our motivation anyway? Plenty of people have gone on diets in April or started an awesome workout program in October or they stop judging in June and so on.

One resolution?

What if you gave yourself only one resolution to work on this year? That resolution is having joy. What if everything you attempted to do started with the question, “Does that make me happy?” if yes, then I will do it and if no, then I won’t. I had to throw in an “if, then” statement for you. I am an engineer after all.

We do so many things in our lives just because that’s what we’re used to doing or that’s what is expected of us whether we enjoy them or not.

I have to go back to the teachings of Abraham channeled by Esther Hicks where they talk to us about having joy be the only manifestation we desire. Therefore, if something brings us joy, then it will come and if it doesn’t then it won’t.

Allow yourself the freedom to enjoy the moment

I’ve had plenty of times in my life where I’ve attempted to diet without being successful at it and others when I don’t even try and I lose a bunch of weight. What’s the difference? I think it really falls back to how I feel. At times, I don’t really feel like indulging in sweets and fattening foods while at other times I do. At times, I’m in a great place to work out daily and others I am not. It’s never been about the day or the week.

I have a friend who says, “When I decide to lose weight I will, it’s just a matter of deciding.” I say, “Why swim upstream? Just go with the flow and enjoy life as it is.”

Life is truly about enjoying the moment. I often ask myself the question, “Does it really matter?” I find that the answer nine times out of ten is usually “no, it doesn’t.” Try it. It’s liberating.

Make it fun

Rather than making something a resolution which carries with it a burden and judgment, make it fun. Playing tennis is much more fun than committing to 30 minutes on the elliptical every day. I feel the tradition of resolutions is fun and we ought to keep it that way.

My resolution is going to be to keep it up! I have asked myself the question of “does it make me happy” for over a year now and that’s been working great. It makes my decisions so much simpler and easier to make.

Your thoughts … I’d love to hear them

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About to indulge in a chocolate caramel Ghiradelli! Have you tried those things? It's like a little piece of heaven.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

The 24 days of Christmas

My husband’s family tradition is to open gifts on Christmas morning. It became the day I dreaded. My kids would have so many gifts to open that wrapping paper, boxes and little pieces would go flying everywhere. After a little while the inevitable melt-downs would happen because the boys were simply overwhelmed and over-stimulated.

Trying something new

A few years ago, I decided to try something different. If my husband and I were going out to dinner, I’d let the boys open a gift each. They loved that idea. Which one would they open? What wrapping paper caught their attention? Oh the anticipation of what their aunt or uncle got them?

They would then proceed to play with that toy all night long and not give the babysitter a hard time over anything. They would also remember who got them that gift forever.

This year we got to the point where all the gifts were opened before Christmas morning. The excitement of Santa was that much more; all they had under the tree were Santa’s gifts. Now, Christmas morning is so much more relaxed and enjoyable.

Santa and Mrs. Claus have also gotten smarter about the toys that they buy as well. No more plastic! Everything is made of nice wood that helps keep everyone grounded. Marble runs, cherry blocks and gnomes were among the gifts that made the cut this year.

I’ve been thinking about Christmas and the whole gift giving concept. I’ve realized that the simpler something is then the better a person likes it. The more thought that goes into it, the better it feels.

Our traditions

Christmas used to be a lot more stressful a few years ago. It takes a while to figure out your own tradition and how you’d like it to be. We decided a few years ago to always be home for Christmas. It just feels better to wake up in your own home on Christmas morning. That by itself has allowed us to have traditions that we’ve come to love.

We now have the 24 days of Christmas where the boys get to open a gift prior to Christmas Eve as long as there's one under the tree, we have a fabulous Christmas Eve dinner with seven different kinds of fish, we open Santa’s gifts on Christmas morning and laze around all day and we thoroughly enjoy our leftovers while slightly hung-over. It has become such a rooted time of year for us that it brings with it peace that is inexplicable but totally tangible.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We totally enjoyed every moment of it. I hope you did too!

Your thoughts … I’d love to hear them

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Looking forward to a wonderful New Year's Eve!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

On strike for Christmas!

I absolutely love watching Falalala Lifetime movies. I always pick the happy go-lucky types. I watched a movie called “On Strike for Christmas” and absolutely laughed to my heart’s content.

It’s about a woman who is married with two boys. They show you the progression of their lives through the Christmas seasons. When the boys were young, everyone helped her out by decorating the tree, labeling Christmas cards and generally helping with Christmas.

Christmas must go on

Then they show you the present; her boys are in their senior year and very busy with their lives and so, quit helping her with any of the Christmas preparations. However, they all want Christmas to still happen the way it usually does.

The boys ask her to host a party and make Christmas cookies. Her husband asks her to host his work party. Scene after scene, she’s shown asking for her family to help get the Christmas tree, bring down decorations from the garage, and buy Christmas lights and so on. Finally, she decides to go on strike for Christmas and that really gets their attention.

On strike for Christmas

I’m sure you know the ending by now. Her husband and boys start doing all that it takes to put Christmas together and they do a fantastic job. She realizes that she was a bit of a control freak and they realize that they really all have to do their part for this to work.

In the movie, they show that all the women in their town go on strike as well because they could all relate. I could totally relate to this movie. There’s a part in particular where she says, “Don’t make me be the nagging wife and mom, just do it.” I sometimes have to say the same thing a few times before it gets done.

Must I nag for it to get done?

After watching the movie, I’m starting to wonder if that’s really a necessity for me to do. If I want all the boxes cleaned out of the garage, should I do it or nag my husband to do it? If I want lights on the trees outside, should I do it or should I nag my husband to do it? And really, is it a big deal if the lights don’t go on the Christmas trees outside? Is it a big deal if the garland gets put up or not?

Does it really matter?

Christmas is about being together and having a great time. We’ve made it so big that it’s become about having everything perfect. My sister-in-law wanted some pictures of our family. I started looking through all my old pictures and files when I discovered all these movies I had taken of my boys when they were little.

We started watching them together and truly laughed. I told them at one point, “All I can say is that there was never anything to complain about.” No matter how hard it was when they were little, every minute was worth it. They are truly awesome and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Zack was two in one of the movies where he was singing the "car song" and "dinosaur song" and he was truly adorable. Louie was in a phase of playing the guitar and making up songs using his hockey stick. Those memories are just amazing to have. That’s what it really is about.

We have a wonderful Christmas Eve tradition where my husband cooks an incredible meal. We have all stopped eating from today knowing that we’re going to be stuffed silly tomorrow. We have a few friends coming over. My father-in-law is here. My mom is here. It’s going to be an awesome evening and really nothing else matters.

I wish all of you a wonderful holiday season. I wish for you memories and moments created that will keep you smiling for a long time.

Your thoughts … I’d love to hear them

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I can’t say I don’t love my lights outside and a clean garage, but there’s got to be a better way than nagging my way through it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Hand-addressing Christmas cards!

My printer broke a couple of months ago. I really can’t tell you why I haven’t gone out to get a new one yet. Anyway, my Christmas cards came in the mail the other day and I realized that I couldn’t print the address labels anywhere.

I was talking to my friend about it and she suggested I could come to her house and print them. Then she said that she always hand-addresses her cards. She felt that was the way she added her personal touch. She said that she used to write notes in each of her cards, but that got to be too time-consuming.

Hand-addressing my Christmas cards? Really?

The thought of hand-addressing over 125 Christmas cards seemed daunting at the time. I realized though, that by the time I emailed her the file, went over there and printed the labels, I’d probably be done addressing all the cards. Plus, I wanted to do it. I felt like maybe I wanted to add a personal touch to our Christmas cards this year as well.

So many memories and great thoughts came to mind

It was fantastic! With every card that I addressed, I thought about the people I was sending the card to. I thought about our friends who just had a baby girl this past summer and how they would celebrate Christmas this year with two little kids. That made me remember when my boys were really little and how much they enjoyed everything about Christmas.

It reminded me that it’s the simple things around Christmas that matter. It’s the tradition of hot chocolate with a scoop of ice cream in it while putting the ornaments on the tree that make it special, not how perfect the tree looks. My boys ask for that every year. Honestly, the thought of drinking that makes me gag, but it is a wonderful tradition for my boys to grow up with. It’s simple and it’s Salfi.

I thought about a friend I worked with at Nortel in Dallas. I haven’t seen her in about 10 years. I wondered how she was doing and how her family was.

Around the world and back in one evening!

Hand-writing the addresses actually allowed me to think about each of the people we were sending a card to. I thought about their kids, where they are living and what they are doing.

It made me think of how many places my husband and I have lived and how varied our Christmas list is. We have friends in Canada, Brazil, the Emirates, Lebanon, England and the United States. It made me remember all the places we’ve visited either together or separate and how awesome those memories are.

What a great little adventure this was for me. Who knew that addresses a few cards would take me all around the world!

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I am definitely hand-addressing envelopes every year!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is it bought or is it sold?

A house was bought in our neighborhood about a month ago. Normally, when a house is bought, the sign on it says “sold”. The sign on this particular house is “bought”.

I pass by that house every day, so I’ve been thinking about the difference between the two words. One would argue that they are one and the same. I disagree.

“Bought” implies a new family is coming. I started asking myself all these questions: do they have kids? I wonder if they have boys that my kids could play with? Maybe they are newlyweds? Where do they work? It represents the possibility of making new friends and memories.

Sold is a period, a final reaching point. I’ve never thought about who was moving in when I saw a sold sign. I’ve always thought, I wonder where these people who lived there are going.

With bought, I’ve thought about who’s coming, with sold, I think about who’s left. It’s a huge difference. Think of positive and negative connotations, which word is more positive?

The impact of words

Mother Teresa said, “I will never attend an anti-war rally; if you have a peace rally, invite me.” Think about that.

I attended a weekend workshop with Wayne Dyer in Maui last year where he announced that he had been diagnosed with leukemia. He said that he has asked the leukemia to live peacefully in his body or something along those lines. I feel that is so much more powerful than waging a war against the leukemia or fighting it.

“Race for the cure” is so much more powerful than the “fight against cancer.” The choice of words is incredible.

Am I inspired?

We are launching our annual giving campaign at my kids’ school. The goal is to achieve 100% participation, so we have formed a task force to figure out how to achieve our goal.

The idea presented was to change the name to be “Inspired Giving” because when you’re inspired, you give more and you give happily.

We went through something called an appreciative inquiry process. The thought being that when you think about what you love and appreciate, then inspiration is the result. When you take that inspiration out into the community, then the energy of that will take care of achieving 100% giving.

After going through the appreciation process we decided to drop the “giving” part and just say that we are inspired! It’s so powerful. I am inspired; I love our school, I love the education being provided to my kids, I appreciate the teachers, I appreciate that music is part of the curriculum, I appreciate that art and drama are part of the curriculum and so on. I am 100% inspired!

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Thinking positive!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Allowing yourself to be human

I love this time of year! I love the Christmas music, the hustle and bustle of trying to find the right gift, I love the holiday parties, and so on; I really love it all.

I was listening to the radio this morning where they were talking about how this time year stresses people out. The lady was talking about how the baking, entertaining, shopping, parties and all that could lead to stress. I had to laugh. All the things that bring me joy were actually named as being stressful for so many.

Joshua Bell goes unnoticed

My friend forwarded me the story of Joshua Bell playing music at a Washington D.C. metro station. Joshua Bell is one of the most famous violinists in the world. He played for 45 minutes in the metro while over a 1000 people walked by with only a handful ever stopping to listen to his music.

His concerts sell out with ticket prices of $100 per ticket, yet he made a little less than $40 for that entire 45 minutes. The article talks about the fact that we have gotten to a point where we can’t even stop for a moment and allow ourselves to listen to one of the most famous musicians in the world.

In other words, we have forgotten how to stop and smell the roses. Of all the people who even glanced at him, the kids were the ones who wanted to linger the most while their parents dragged them away. It’s really a fascinating article written by the Washington Post.

Timing is everything

I say to all this, allow yourself to be human. So if you missed an incredible opportunity to see one of the most famous musicians of all time, then so what. The people who didn’t stop may have had a deadline for work or had to drop their kids off at school or had a doctor’s appointment.

Sometimes things have to happen at the right time for us to enjoy them. Shopping for Christmas gifts in July just doesn’t seem appropriate. There’s a time and place for everything. When things are done at the right time, they are enjoyed so much more.

Those same people, who missed the opportunity to listen to Joshua Bell in the morning on their way to work, would probably enjoy him tremendously if they bought a ticket to his performance and went later on in the evening. There’s something to be said about the anticipation of a fantastic evening and being prepared for it.

Allowing yourself a break

I believe the reason I love this season is because I allow myself to enjoy every moment of it. If I’m shopping and I need a break, then I sit at the nearest Starbucks and enjoy a latte.

All that being said, if you were to talk to my husband about our Christmas card this year, he’d probably have a different story. I wanted our Christmas card done and ordered so I got everyone to cooperate; the boys took their showers, got in the clothes I had laid out for them, I took their picture, went on to Shutterfly and ordered our Christmas cards. Done!

That’s also why I don’t get overwhelmed; I actually do things ahead of time and therefore, I enjoy it.

We could all use to give ourselves a break every once in a while. Work hard and get what you want to get done and then reward yourself with an evening out or a lunch with friends. Make it fun and if all your shopping doesn’t get done, send a gift card instead.

Your thoughts … I’d love to hear them

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Heading out to Barnes and Nobles to buy my nephew a couple of books! He's going to love them.