Monday, November 30, 2009

Bit #37:Finding That Girl~Pay It Forward

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 37: It's all about giving and we all have a helping hand to lend
"Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more. " ~Anthony Robbins
{Editor's Note: I love this week's Finding that Girl post and will definitely follow Whitney in this quest and pay it forward as much as I can this season. We ALL can do something. I also will add the minis in the mix. My son is just starting to "get it" in terms of giving back and learning what this holiday season is all about. Thanks Whitney for challenging all of us!}
I've been decorating for Christmas all weekend, listening to Christmas music and just generally getting in the holiday spirit.
I've had my first official "Christmas" Starbucks in the red cup, seen mothers fighting over the last "My LifeSize Doll" in the WalMart toy aisle and waited in a checkout line longer than the number that represents the federal deficit.
The official holiday season has begun, y'all.
Last night while I was going to sleep I was thinking about last Christmas and I remember one post from a blogger that really stood out to me. I had just found Gwen's blog and this was one of the first posts I had read, but it had such an impact on me.
This is what the holiday season should be about - giving. Even if it's something small, no matter how much it makes a huge difference.
So, I'm going to make a pledge and a challenge.
My pledge is that at least once a week, I'm going to pay it forward to someone. It could be someone in line behind me at Starbucks, my struggling co-worker, a fellow blogger - I won't know until the moment strikes me.
My challenge is to have you join me. Once a week, give to someone who least expects it. And make it a spur of the moment decision. Sure, it will make you feel good but I guarentee you it will make the recipient feel even better.
And little by little, that will make for a better holiday season for everyone!
Oh, and let me be the first to wish you Merry Christmas!
"If you can't feed 100 men, just feed one." ~Mother Teresa

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bit #36: Use Your Imagination

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 36: Don't Leave your Imagination at Home
I stumbled upon this piece by Ellen Phillips in a book entitled 50 Things that Really Matter. We always emphasize on the use of imagination in children, but sometimes I can get lost in my imagination and daydreaming like thoughts.
Dr. Seuss is a classic and wonderful example of someone who used his imagination in his work and sparked a love for reading and imaginative thoughts in children.
Here is the excerpt from Ellen Phillips:
"But Imagination for each of us is about more than physically seeing-it's also about 'seeing' connections between seemingly unconnected things. We may pick up the colors of a favorite scene in the yarns of a sweeater or scarf. (And the peaceful, repetitive nature of knitting is ideal for freeing our minds to imagine other things, too-like an attractive arrangement for next summer's garden or a new recipe for cookies.)
Ultimately, whatever way we use our imagination, we are telling a story. And the more unusual connections we see, the richer and more interesting our creations-our stories will be."
Happy Weekend!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Bit #35: Be Curious

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 35: Keep a Curious Mind

"Curiosity is a gift we each can share. Harvesting it is simple: Just be like a child. Wonder, play, pretend, and live in the moment. Then watch with amazement as the world unfolds around you." ~Kara Messinger

The most famous and smartest people in history that have gone on to achieve great things had a very curious mind!

Albert Einstein-clearly curious to sit around and figure out that E=mc2 and the other "over my head" mathematical business.

Michelangelo-Curious! "Why couldn't you paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel? I mean it looks so boring just being white."

Thomas Edison-Thanks for being so curious and inventing the lightbulb

Serget Brin and Larry Page-The Google creators were very curious and thanks to their curiosity for creating the search engine to learn about ANYTHING, they can help fuel our curiosity.

I have a curious child and sometimes it can be exhausting. He must have 1004 questions for a minute detail of a story, movie, why the refrigerator just made that weird noise, or homeless man we passed in the car on the way home from preschool. Even during those times of frustration mixed with exhaustion, I must remember to take a deep breath and see it as an AMAZING mind at work and foster that love for learning and knowing more about how the world works, surroundings, and why things happen.

The list above of famous curious people could go on and on. The moment we stop being curious, the moment we stop learning. So ask questions, think of different perspectives, and look for the hidden beneath the surface answers.

The mind, like the rest of our body needs to be exercised. So, go on...get your curiosity on.

"The important thing is not to stop questioning...Never lose a holy curiosity." ~Albert Einstein

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bit #34: Lessons in Lyrics~Smile

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 34: There will always be a reason to smile
"Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
"Smile, even if it's a sad smile, because sadder than a sad smile is the sadness of not knowing how to smile." ~Unknown
This week's Lessons in Lyrics comes from Nat King Cole. You'll be humming and singing this song for a while which will undoubtedly make you smile.
Smile though your heart is aching
Smile even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll see the sun come shining through for you
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile
That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bit #33: Send Thank You Notes

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 33: Always send Thank You Notes

"Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." ~G.B. Stern

We live in a fast paced world where we forget common things and we rely too heavily on email and text messaging to communicate with the outside world.

When you are given a gift, WRITE A THANK YOU.

A handwritten thank you note is a necessity and is forgotten by many. Don't send a email or text, and don't decide to not write one because you forgot and it's been too long.

With the holidays approaching you are going to be showered with gifts, baked goods, and other acts of holiday cheer, so you need to get your "thank you note caps on." (Doesn't it just scream that I was an elementary school teacher in my previous life before children?!?!?!)


There is an easy formula with 6 points that should be included in every thank you note. It is easy to do and should be memorized, used each time, and passed on to others that might not know.

Get some stationery to keep on hand so you will have it when a lovely and thoughtful gift comes your way.

1. Greeting~Don't forget the greeting. Dear Aunt Mary, works perfectly.

2. Express Your Thanks~Actually show your gratitude and thank the person(s) for the gift and name the gift/gesture in which this note is to express thanks for.

Thank you for the lovely cashmere throw

Etiquette Tip: Don't ever mention the amount of money that is given. Just say kindness or generosity.

3. Talk about Use of Gift~Say something nice about the gift and how you will put it to great use in the future. If it was a monetary gift, you can write how you will use it. Also, if it was a gesture such as being a guest in someone's home, you could say something like "It was so nice to have such a comfortable and welcoming play while we explored New York."
I look forward to curling up on the sofa during those chilly winter nights with the throw.

4. Mention the Past, Allude to the Future~This one is the one that I have found people have the most difficulty with. Make a mention of a recent visit or an upcoming party or trip. If this is someone you never see, you can write something like "I'm thinking of you and hope you are well."

It was so nice to see you at Grandma's house for brunch and I look forward to seeing you at the family reunion next month.

5. Gratitude and Grace~Show your gratitude one last time.

Thank you again for thinking of me.

6. Closing~Make sure to include a closing and signature to your note.



Thank you notes should be written as soon as possible, but don't worry if you forget or something comes up. Better late than never...


Monday, November 16, 2009

Bit #32: Finding That Girl~Roll With the Punches

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 32: Sometimes You Just Have to Roll With the Punches
{Editor's Note: Of course, I love all of Whitney's posts, but this week's "Finding That Girl" column rings oh so true. Oprah calls them "aha" moments and we all have them. The question is, do we always listen? We all know that will hand us lemons. Thanks Whitney...we're proud of you for making that lemonade. Have a great day!}
If you're a planner like me, when something throws you off course you immediately begin to make another plan. You start weighing all your options, lay out possible scenarios and you might even make a pro/con list for your decision making process. That's what I started doing when I found out my hours were cut at work.
I knew that I couldn't make it on what my new paychecks were going to be, so I knew I would have to start figuring something out. Right away I decided I would get a part-time retail job at night, sell what I could on Ebay and re-work my budget cutting out any and all completely unnecessary expenses.
Then, I couldn't find a part-time retail job. My availability isn't all that great due to my full-time job, nobody could pay me what I need to be paid and every store wondered why someone with my retail experience was trying to get a nighttime register position.
I didn't know what to do; my plan had failed me.
Then, I had a "lightbulb" moment.
Do what I know.
And what do I know how to do more than anything else?
In college I did mystery shopping on a very part-time basis for extra money, so why couldn't I do the same thing now only not so part-time? I checked back into one of the old companies I worked for and then found some new ones that were looking for independent contractors. I've been back at it for a little over a week now, and while it doesn't completely replace my missing income from my regular job I'm at least making it. And I get to keep my flexibility and familiarity that I love so much.
And that's a lesson I re-discovered this week - roll with the punches. I'm not always going to make the best or right plan, things aren't always in my control and I just need to take what comes my way and make it work for me. That's hard for a type-A, control freak, fixer like myself but it really puts me in my place.
And sometimes, we need to be put in our place and learn to roll with the punches.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Bit #31: Believe

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 31: Have Something to Believe In
"Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail." ~Charles F. Kettering
Believe in love.
Believe in your dreams and goals.
Believe in joy.
Believe in the abilities and gifts you have been given.
Believe in success.
Believe in your own intelligence.
Believe that laughter really is the best medicine.
Believe in happy endings.
Believe that you are beautiful.
Believe in humanity.
Believe that revenge doesn't solve any problem.
Believe in others.
Believe in forgiveness.
Belive in "mind over matter."
Believe in honesty.
Believe the compliments you receive.
Believe in God.
Believe that hard work will always pay off.
Believe in miracles.
Believe that the sun will always come out tomorrow.
Just believe.
Having something to believe in really does make LIFE SO GRAND!
What do you believe in? Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bit #30: What is a Grown-up???

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 30: Being a Grown-up doesn't mean you have all the answers

"There's no point in being a grown up if you can't be childish sometimes." ~Unknown

Growing up, I always thought I would have all the answers. Iwould be so mature and by the time I brought children in to this world, things would fall in to place and I would just "get it." Moms and Dads are supposed to know everything.


The older I get, the more I realize that I don't have all the answers and perhaps as I grow and life gets more complex, I have even less of the really important answers.

Things happen to people everyday that aren't fair or can be explained. People work hard and still get laid off, fired, or don't get to reap the benefits of their labor.

I love this quote above, the more I grow up, the more I want to be a child again. It is so fun and so necessary to give in to some of those childish likes and desires. I think the children actually may "get it" the most. Take some time to watch children and copy their outlook on life...innocence, a great desire to explore the world around them, and they act/dance/do silly things not worrying about how they look to others.

Don't hurry through life just trying to make it to being a "grown up."

As I grow up, I do know that while I don't have all the answers, LIFE IS GRAND!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Bit #29: Lessons in Lyrics~My Wish

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 29: Make a Wish and Plan for yourself and those you love
I love this song, "My Wish" by Rascal Flatts and thought it was a great choice for Lessons in Lyrics. I know that country music isn't everyone's taste, but these lyrics are just fantastic. We often spend so much time stressed about money, social status, jobs, etc. that life just passes us right by.
"Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you'll look back and realize they were big things."–R. Brault
There are so many things that I wish for my children. I want them to have the best life possible and grow up knowing they are loved and have confidence in their gifts and abilities. I also want them to appreciate everything and enjoy the little things that life has to offer.
I also have many wishes for my own life and the lyrics in this song pretty much sum it up.
"My Wish"
I hope the days come easy and the moments pass slow,
and each road leads you where you want to go,
and if you're faced with a choice, and you have to choose,
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you.
and if one door opens to another door closed,
I hope you keep on walkin' 'til you find the window,
if it's cold outside,
show the world the warmth of your smile,
but more than anything, more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can haul,
and while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
I hope you never look back, but ya never forget,
all the ones who love you, in the place you left,
I hope you always forgive, and you never regret,
and you help somebody every chance you get,
Oh, you find God's grace, in every mistake,
and always give more then you take.
But more than anything, Yeah, and more than anything,
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can haul,
and while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can haul,
and while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.
this is my wish
i hope you know somebody loves youmay all your dreams stay big

Monday, November 9, 2009

Bit #28: Finding That Girl~All Emotions are real

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 28: Mad is still an emotion

{Editor's Note: This week's Finding That Girl column from Whitney is so honest and true. All emotions are real and need to be worked through. Sometimes it take a while to "wipe the smile off our face" and the same goes for those not so happy and rosy emotions. We spend time telling our children that it's alright to be mad and sad when things don't go just their way, but as we move in to adulthood, the common mantra is "get over it." While I agree that it is more fun to be happy, all emotions are a process...Thanks Whitney for making us realize that it's ok! We love you!}

Thanks to everyone for their sweet comments on last week's post and in my email inbox. I love the title that Mrs. Molly Lou gave the post.

Sometimes it really is best to take a leap of faith.I had a post all planned to write and then all of the sudden it seemed irrelevant to me. Suddenly all I wanted to do was pout and whine about my work situation. While I don't condone 24/7 whining and pouting, I can tell you that I learned a lesson this week about that very thing.

What was the lesson?

Glad you asked.


That's the lesson.


You read right. Yell, scream, cry, whine, throw a pity party for 100 whatever it is you need to do to move past the situation and get on with your life.

We hear all the time, "be grateful for what you have" and "it can always get worse" and "lot's of people have it a lot worse than you."

And I agree. I agree 1000%.

BUT, should we not show emotion? Should we not be honest about what we're feeling? EVERYONE gets mad and when you try and hide that anger or hurt it only turns into resentment - which is even worse. I've heard so many times, "there's no point in getting angry." Now that statement I couldn't agree with less. There is most certainly a point in getting angry. When you mask your emotions and don't address them, you can almost count on the fact that you will be dealing with your issue for a lot longer than you have to.

That's why I knew that when I was so angry last week about everything that was going on, I just had to be that way for a while. I knew if I tried to push those feelings down they wouldn't go away, rather they would get bigger.

Now let's be clear here. I'm not saying you should go slam your fist through a door, slam your head against the wall or punch anyone in the face (although I can't tell you how many times this week I've wanted to punch my boss, I mean someone this week). Rather, just let yourself go through the healing process. Don't force yourself to not be mad or hurt - let it happen. Because ultimately, the natural emotion is much healthier than the forced one.

I'm still slightly angry. I can't help it, but I'm moving on and understanding that there is nothing I can do but be proactive about the situation I'm in. Had you told me to feel that way on Monday of this week I might have done one of the things in the former paragraph because I needed the time to just be plain mad. And that is something we all need from time to time.



Friday, November 6, 2009

Bit #27: Drink Water

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 27: Drink Plenty of WaterI know this is a straight forward and perhaps boring bit today. Kids, listen up...DRINK WATER!!!
If you don't do anything else to improve your health, drink water. Drinking your daily dose of water does wonders for your body! Drink extra water when you are exercising or playing sports or in extremely warm weather.
Keep water handy and accessible. Use stylish and fun bottles that you take with you, keep out or on your desk. If it is near you and "staring you down," you are more likely to drink it. If you get sick of BORING old water, spice things up with lemon or other natural flavors.
PS-Drinking that "cool," expensive water, doesn't make you cool. Regular old tap water is the coolest and cheapest. Filter your own water. You can save that Fiji water money for something fun and new!
(thanks flickr for the water image)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Bit #26: Lessons in Lyrics~Be the Bridge

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 26: Be the bridge for your loved ones
Yesterday, the bit talked about surrounding yourself with cool people; relationships with people that will lift you up, make you feel good about yourself, support you, and add something to your life.
We all need those supportive crutches in our lives and the lyrics from today's song beg you to be that person for a loved one in your life. This week's Lessons in Lyrics features a song I have sung so many times in my life. I will have this familar tune stuck in my head for days now, but what wonderful and calling lyrics they are.
I hope that we can all be the bridge for a loved one in our life as I know that we will need a few bridges laid out for us. Have a great day!
"Bridge Over Troubled Water"
By Paul Simon / Sung by Simon & Garfunkel

When you're weary, feeling small,
When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
I'm on your side.
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
When you're down and out,
When you're on the street,
When evening falls so hard I will comfort you.
I'll take your part.
When darkness comes
And pain is all around,
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down.
Sail on silvergirl,
Sail on by.
Your time has come to shine.
All your dreams are on their way.
See how they shine.
If you need a friend I'm sailing right behind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will ease your mind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Bit #25: Surround yourself with cool people

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 25: Surround yourself with cool people that make you feel good!
"Associate yourself with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for 'tis better to be alone than in bad company." ~George Washington
What George Washington said is perhaps somewhat boring, but oh so true. Relationships are so important and are the foundation to just about everything we do in life.
We have relationships with just about everyone we come in contact with and in all social and professional settings.
Relationships take constant work and "nurturing." This is often put off to the side.
As said above, make sure you are surrounding yourself with "cool" people. People that make you happy, feel good about yourself, encourage you, support you, and inspire you.
Obviously, make sure you are in a good place internally. You need to have a solid personal foundation before you can extend to other relationships.
"A loving relationship is one in which the loved one is free to be himself - to laugh with me, but never at me; to cry with me, but never because of me; to love life, to love himself, to love being loved. Such a relationship is based upon freedom and can never grow in a jealous heart." ~Leo F. Buscaglia

Monday, November 2, 2009

Bit #24: Sometimes it's best to JUMP and follow your heart

Little Life Lesson and Bit of Grace 24: As scary as it is, make sure you are doing what you have a desire and passion for. JUMP and make those things happen.

{Editor's Note: Welcome back Whitney! We are so excited to have you and look forward to all you have to say. I know I speak for all of us...we love you, support you, and know you will be oh so successful.}

“The indispensable first step to getting the things that you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” — Ben Stein

...I love Ben Stein. I swear, the Visine commercials get me everytime.

And come on - "Bueller....Bueller....Anyone....." How can you not crack up?

However, whether you love the man or not you have to agree that his quote hit the proverbial nail on the head.
How can you aim without a target?
Duh. You can't. You'd just be shooting blindly.

And you can't get what you want out of life without first knowing what you are trying to get.I have been struggling with this problem lately. I've felt as though I'm at a standstill in my life. I'm single, no kids and no real attachments except for the fact that I must speak with my mother at least 95846 times. I'm at what I feel like is a crossroads in my career. I've gone as far as I can possibly go within my company; I busted through that glass ceiling a long freaking time ago. So where should I go? What should I do?Should I keep picking glass out of my hair and just stay at my current job? Should I look for a job in an economy where people are pretty much not filling the type of position I'm looking for? Should I go back to school and start a completely new career? How do I know what the right decision is? I could ask for advice from my family and friends but the problem is that I already know the answer.

I once heard that when you ask for advice you're really just asking for a confirmation of what you already know, but don't want to acknowledge. See for me, feeling comfortable and familiar is a big deal. I've stepped out on a limb so many times in my life and fallen hard, so having the familiarity of my current job is a big bonus. Plus, my hours are relatively flexible and that's very important to me. But, I'm not getting anything out of it. I don't ever feel fulfilled at the end of the day; like I made a difference or did something that mattered. And that's important to me. I never wanted to be the type of person who woke up everyday and had to go to work, rather I wanted to be the type of person who woke up everyday excited to go to work. Yet here I am in a job that I hate, working for someone who is a less than desirable boss (trust me, my stories would shock you) and yearning for the weekend with every passing minute. Which is exactly what I always told myself I wouldn't do.

So, here I am on the threshold of a decision. What do I do, where do I go?Well, you know how sometimes you wait too long to make a decision and it ends up being made for you? Anyone? Beuller?Well, last week something happened at work. Something that was my decision maker. You see, my work has been heavily affected by the economy. Business has been terrible and earlier this year my boss was forced to cut our hours, some people more than others. Because of my position in the company I was fortunate enough to keep more of mine than others, but it was still a struggle. Well, last week my hours were cut again.

At first I just wanted to cry. I wanted to pout and whine about my hours and my money (or lack thereof) and make everyone feel sorry for me. Then I realized something: a decision had been made. You know that corny phrase "when one door shuts another opens"? Well, a door was shut and what do you know? It blew another one open for me.

I'm not sure of all the details yet, but I'm going back to school. Just when I thought I'd taken my last college class, God whispered "not so fast" into my ear. I'm going to be an Early Education major with a concentration in Remedial Reading.

To say I'm excited would be an understatement. For the first time in a long time I feel at peace about everything; I feel settled. I have something to work for and I'm going for it with everything I have in me. I know it's not going to be easy, or fun at times but I have never felt better about a decision in my life.

So now I know what I'm working for and what I want and I only wish it hadn't taken me this long in my life to determine that. But I know it was for a purpose....everyone's path is different.