25 Easy Ways to Make More Merry This Holiday Season!

Happy Friday!

Still on a high from an incredible CAPS convention in beautiful Vancouver, BC, learning and connecting with fellow speakers from all over the world… however there is no rest for the wicked, especially at this time of year!

After a serious leak from the condo above, I’ve had all new floors and baseboards put in, and the whole place repainted. So I’ve had no home for a few weeks (thank goodness I do love hotels!) and was finally able to move back in. Just in time, too, as I’m co-hosting a Christmas party tonight for the amazing Dovetail community of female entrepreneurs, and throwing a tacky Christmas sweater party for other friends and colleagues tomorrow night… because, well, why not?!?

I do love this exciting season, however perhaps you can relate to the to-do lists taking on a life of their own?

So I’m reminding myself, and you, to take a moment to slow down, and connect with what this season is really about.

And as I’m all about small, do-able, fun activities that can make a BIG difference both for you and for others, and we’re now knee deep into this festive season, I have some ideas for you!

Here are 25 easy ways to add a little extra merry and joy to you and yours and others this holiday season:

  1. Make a snow angel ❄👼❄ (ideally right on the sidewalk for all to see!
  2. Donate to your local food bank or fill a Shoebox for The Shoebox Project
  3. Send yourself a Christmas Card 📭 (why not?!?) and then give your postman (or postwoman!) a card while you’re at it 
  4. Buy yourself a poinsettia
  5. Shovel a neighbour’s driveway or sidewalk
  6. Invent a Christmas Cocktail
  7. Spend a day in your robe and just do nothing 
  8. Buy coffee for the person behind you in line ☕ 
  9. Get a sparkly festive manicure 💅
  10. Go to the movies to watch a vintage holiday classic 📽 (or stay in your jammies and watch Love Actually!)
  11. Learn a Christmas tune on the ukulele or the nose flute (talk to me if you’ve never heard of the nose flute, and I’ll introduce you to my good friend David Gouthro, who also happens to be the founder of the Vancouver Nose Flute Ensemble!)
  12. Treat yourself to a comfy onesie… be it a cheesy Christmas themed one or a snuggie!  
  13. Go to a fancy store, and try on a ridiculously expensive fuzzy, furry item… just ‘cause! (Or go to Value Village and buy a tacky Christmas sweater!)
  14. Build a Snowman ☃
  15. Visit your local Children’s hospital or hospice and enjoy some meaningful moments
  16. Buy chocolates for an old teacher, a mentor, or yourself
  17.  Go ice skating ⛸ or tobogganing 🛷 !
  18. Put on a pair of reindeer antlers and walk around town as if all is normal.(Maybe even make some ‘neeeiiigghh’ sounds!)
  19. Indulge in an obnoxiously large and fancy hot chocolate or other holiday beverage (I’m talking like Venti Gingerbread Latte styles!) 
  20. Bond with a stranger and turn them into a friend
  21. Spend some time out in nature. Go for a walk and if you’re lucky to have snow where you are, listen to the crunch sound under your feet as you walk
  22.  Bake cookies 🍪
  23.  Make an easy holiday craft (I always found reindeer candy canes the easiest!)
  24. Get a few friends or neighbours together and go Christmas Caroling 🔔
  25.  Crank up the 🎶 Christmas tunes 🎵 while driving, while cooking, or whenever… and get your belt on! 

 

Lots of ideas there… I hope you take on just ONE this week!

And then please do share your stories  below ~ and also feel free to add your ideas to the list! Always on the lookout for new fun things to do.

Remember, it’s not about simply adding more to your to-do list, rather to offer a fun respite of sorts, and get re-connected with what this holiday season is really about.

Have a FAB time making merry this week!

 

 

 

 

P.S. My friend Warren Leppik at Cognition Productions made a holiday card on my behalf for y’all… check it out HERE!

How to get back up when you’re down.

Photo by Andrii Podilnyk on Unsplash

Happy Friday!

I have to say I’m feeling pretty grateful right now.  While it’s true, thanks to a little bike 🚴‍♀️ mishap on Sunday, I’ve torn my AC joint and so sporting a sling for the next few weeks (fingers crossed she heals properly and no surgery will be needed!), it really could have been a lot worse. And it got me thinking. As frustrated and annoyed as I was with myself in the moment (well, once the tears disappeared and the pain subsided!) playing the ‘if only’ or ‘what if’ or trying to re-write in my mind how it all could’ve gone down differently aren’t very helpful.

 

So instead, I tried to look for the lessons, the learnings, and the signs from the Universe.

Now I’m guessing I’m not the only one who’s ever fallen down – whether literally off a bike, or figuratively off a plan, a project, a pursuit – and there are perspectives worthy of sharing.

1.  S-L-O-W down.

Never be in too much of a rush you don’t properly look for both cars AND bikers before dropping off the sidewalk… (especially as they may be hiding behind film trucks and suddenly ‘appear’ out of nowhere and ram right into you – which yes, may have happened to me 😳!)

Business and life get busy. And while I’ll admit I tend to enjoy keeping a fast pace, it’s not sustainable, it’s not always healthy, and it’s not always worth it.

In me wanting to save a few seconds and not double check before popping out amidst the film trucks, I’m now forced to slow way down.

Moreover, we have to be in it for the long hall. Skipping steps, rushing through steps, accelerating the process doesn’t always save time in the end. And it’s likely not as enjoyable, either!

If you don’t slow down every once in a while, take a breath, be here now… chances are something will happen to remind you of how important it is.

2. Swallow your pride. 

Never be too proud to call your Mommy or Daddy, or any friend or family member for that matter, when you fall or when you’re down. You don’t have to face it alone. And you’re never too old to be taken care of. (At least that’s what I told myself when my father, without skipping a beat, offered to come into town to take me to the hospital… and then proceeded to sit with me throughout the whole process…) It’s funny that regardless of your age, when you’re sick or in pain there’s nothing like being home 🏠 receiving some extra tender loving care. It was exactly what the doctor ordered.

3. Accept, and acknowledge help. 

Along the same lines as swallowing your pride, this idea is taking it a step further.

When perfect strangers (who also happen to run the film set craft food truck!) invite you in to feed you Kleenex, coffee, and loving kindness while you’re bleeding and crying, say yes. There are good people in this world, and they want to help. And then be sure to somehow acknowledge them! Get their names, write a thank you card 💌, send Starbucks gift cards, flowers… 💐 (Shout out to Chris, Romaine, and especially Leora… you truly are the Craft Food Angels!!!)

And then pass it on. When it’s your turn to lend a helping hand, do it. It may make more than just someone’s day.

4. Call in for reinforcement.

Even if help isn’t offered at first, doesn’t mean you can’t ask for it. We ALL need support at one time or another. And no doubt there are people in your life ready and willing to offer it.

Although I’m grateful each and every day for the incredible people 🙌 in my life, it’s times like these that remind me of just how lucky I am to have the friends and amazing people I do around me… who will drop whatever they’re doing for a phone call ☎️, share words of encouragement, offer to get me groceries or bring over food, even had some amazing chauffeurs (although Dad takes the cake on that one!) over the past few days who’ve driven me here and there and everywhere without batting an eyelash.

5. Shift your perspective. 

When you’ve fallen or gotten off track, or everything seems to be going wrong, it’s easy to get caught in the ‘woe is me.’ Take a moment or two by all means, it’s important to feel all the feels. But don’t stay in the pity party 😢 too long. Instead, shift your perspective.

Choose to look at all that is going right. No doubt it could have been a lot worse. In my case, that is certainly the truth. I could have seriously injured the other cyclist, (luckily he was fine and biked away with no harm done to him or his fancy bike) I could have broken bones, it could have been a car, I could be totally out of commission right now. In the grand scheme of things, a shoulder injury and a sling is REALLY nothing to complain about.

(Find it challenging to make the shift? Spend some time an an emergency ward! It’s enlightening to say the least, and made the pain in my shoulder dissipate very quickly.)

6. Make the most of the moment. 

Look for the silver lining, and choose to make the most of any tough situation you’re in. My Dad and I enjoyed a special Tim Hortons ☕️ breakfast while sitting in the emergency ward together, video chatted with my other sisters and the family out in Calgary, and watched in tears the Remembrance Day🎖service huddled over the tiny screen of his phone. We wouldn’t have been able to share such a special moment had the mishap not happened.

If you look for it closely, there is always a gift within your grief.

7. Count your blessings.

🙏 HUGE GRATITUDE 🙏 for all you amazing peeps in my life, Tim Hortons, and for our Canadian health care system! Yes, there was some waiting, but I was given a sling within 10 minutes, in and out of X-rays within 2 hours, and given a diagnosis by the nicest doctor about half an hour later! And NO BILLS!

Find at least something, or someone, you can be grateful for today, in this moment, and especially when you fall down in life.

Only when we realise all that we have right here, right now, will we be ready to face whatever life throws our way.

When you fall down in life, remember these lessons:

S-L-O-W down. Swallow your pride. Accept, and acknowledge help. Call in for reinforcement. Shift Your Perspective. Make the most of the moment. Count your blessings.

We’re all going to have moments in life when we get hit, when we fall down, when we get hurt – whether literally, figuratively, physically, mentally, emotionally, financially… you name it.

It’s less about trying to prevent them, or push past them, and more about learning how to grow and thrive in spite of them.

And now I want to hear from you… which of these lessons most resonate? Or what lessons have you learned as a result of going through your own challenging situation or mishap in your life?

I’d love to hear from you in the comments below 🙌 !

Have a FAB week!

How do you say, and DO, thank you?

Perhaps I’m riding of the coattails of Canadian Thanksgiving this past weekend, but I’ve definitely been aboard the thanks and gratitude train this week.

I’ve been feeling pretty grateful, expressing lots of thanks and gratitude, and also seem to have received a whole lot in return. 

And so, I felt it a good time to talk about the power of giving thanks.

Thank you. Merci. Gracias. Danke schön. Bedankt. Grazie. Hvala. Spasiba. Khup kun kah. Obrigado. Takk. Mahalo. Xie xie.

However you say it, thank you means thank you in every language. 

(**prize in store for anyone who can name each language above without looking any up!!! Simply COMMENT below!)

Whenever I have the opportunity to visit a new country, the first words and phrases I immediately learn are hello, goodbye, please and thank you (and then ‘cheers’ too!) And you can actually get a LONG way on these alone.

Although I’ve come to realize it’s not just about knowing how to say thank you, it’s about how you actually show it and express it. 

AND, finding some fun and unique ways to do it!

Watch this week’s video to learn not only WHY it’s so important to feel and express gratitude, but also get some unique ideas as to how to do it!

What are your ideas for some different and meaningful ways you’ve either sent or received a thank you?

And which one are you going to put into practice this week?

I’d love to hear from you below!

Bad Day? 3 Ways to Shift Your Perspective

Hospitals are never fun.

And so spending the day in the emergency yesterday was tough. (I was with one of the special people in my life ~ and luckily nothing too serious and all okay now!) Add in the fact it was a downtown Toronto hospital, under construction, with no green space anywhere in sight, and it made it even that much more, um, less than stellar to say the least!

And, it also made me realize a few things about what really matters.

Sometimes life presents us with challenges, events, circumstances that are scary or hard to deal with.

Sometimes they are out of our control.

But how we show up, react, and deal… is very much in our control.

Instead of looking only at the negative, it helps to look for the learning, and to perhaps put things back into perspective.

While sitting in that overcrowded, overheated, overstimulating waiting area, I looked for the learning and couldn’t help but shift my perspective.

Here is what I realized:

Gratitude is Everything.

Although it wasn’t necessarily fun to spend the day (and for those in Toronto, it was a beautiful and sunny one!) in the hospital, it was fun to spend quality time with this special friend and person in my life. And seeing and hearing and somewhat experiencing some of the stories and traumas happening all around us, comparatively, we said numerous times to each other how lucky we were.

Choose to focus on all of the good stuff you have to be grateful for (and there will ALWAYS be something!), instead of choosing to only focus on the bad stuff. Gratitude breeds happiness. Every time.

People are paramount. 

It truly is the people around us and our relationships that make the world go around. Seeing some of the people there in the emergency, completely on their own, broke my heart.

Our work and our careers are important, yes – and I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a few moments of guilt throughout the day for not working, or for not having a more ‘productive’ day.  And yet if I really think about it, I had a very productive day, as I chose to focus on the people that matter most. Work will still be there, promise. Make your people a priority.

Little things become BIG things. 

When things are tough, or you’re feeling down, little things are actually BIG things. Smiles, gestures, and kind words go a LONG way.

On a normal day, I try to smile at everyone I pass by. And when I have any sort of  interaction with someone, I make sure I ask their name. And I have to say, smiles yesterday were felt and appreciated – both given and received – amongst everyone. And learning some of the nurses and admin staff’s names throughout the day came in handy. When asking how much longer before the next test, or getting the results, or if we could escape outside for a bit… well, being personal made a big difference.

We can’t always choose what happens to us in life, but we can choose how we show up, who we want to be, and what we’re going to do about it. 

Next time you find yourself in a challenging situation, a tough environment, or in a bit of a funk, do one of these things.

1.  Make a mental list of all you’re grateful for. 

2.  Reach out to someone important in your life. Let them know you appreciate them and why 

3. Take on a small gesture for another and watch the ripple effect.

 

There is power in shifting your perspective. And sometimes the smallest action truly can make the biggest difference.

 

And now I’d love to hear from YOU. Think back on a recent sticky situation or challenge you were in. What worked for you? Share your comments below… you never know who you may touch or inspire with your story!

Have a FAB week!

We all need a tribe. Got yours? 3 Ways to find, or build, your tribe.

We all need a tribe. Got yours? 3 ways to find, or build, your tribe.

Happy Friday!

Hard to believe I’ve been home for a week now… it’s almost as though I never left! To be honest, it’s kind of comforting. Nothing really changes.

And although it’s been a busy week, preparing for two exciting presentations for the Association of Public Sector Professionals and the International Association of Administrative Professionals, a Women Living Big Habitat for Humanity Build, and lots of fun fam jam and friend catch up time, I’ve loved every minute of it.

Why? Because I love being surrounded by my special peeps. I love being surrounded by amazing folks that I love and that love me. I love being surrounded by my ‘tribe.’

Human beings need human connection. We’re social creatures. And we all desire to be around people who accept us, who ‘get’ us, and who love us unconditionally no matter what.

And that’s what this week’s video it all about!

Watch it here:

 

Which of these three ideas are you going to take on this week? And why does it matter to YOU to be a part of a Tribe? Share your comments below or over at my YouTube channel! And be sure to SUBSCRIBE

AND, please feel free to share with other people in your life! 

Have a FAB week!

Carol - high res

 

 

 

 

TRANSCRIPT:

HAPPY FRIDAY! I’m Carol Schulte, and welcome to another video edition of my Happy Friday blog.

And greetings as I come to you live on location from our Women Living Big Habitat for Humanity Build.

Last week Iguazu, Argentina, this week Ontario, Canada! Yes, this jet-setter is pretty fortunate. However I have to say even more fortunate than being able to travel? Having a network, a community, a tribe I can come home to.

Although it’s been a busy week ~ preparing for my talk yesterday in Ottawa for the Association of Public Sector Information Professionals ~ and more prep for the workshop I’m delivering for the International Association of Administrative Professionals on Saturday, today’s build (not to mention some much needed fam jam and friend catch up time!) I have to say I’ve been loving every minute of it. Why? Because I’ve been surrounded be some pretty amazing peeps.

Human beings are social creatures.

And our number one desire is to belong… to something. A group, a community, a tribe.

We all want to know there are people that ‘get’ us. We want to know there are people who have our backs. We want to know there are people who will love us regardless of what we look like, what we’ve done, or what we’ve said.

Now I know I’ve written before about the importance of having a ‘Positive Peeps Posse,’ and so today I want to expand on this idea, and offer three simple strategies for you to start finding, or building, your own tribe.

  1. Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People.

As Oprah says, ‘Surround yourself only with those who life you higher.’ This may mean doing a personal audit and getting honest with yourself, and it may mean having to let some people go that are no longer serving you. Sometimes it’s more important to subtract, then to add to your current network.

  1. Put Yourself Out There.

It can be intimidating to join new groups, attend events where you may not know very many people, introduce yourself to folks you don’t yet know. And yet sometimes that’s exactly what you gotta do to find your peeps. And I truly believe in the idea: There are no such thing as strangers, only friends you haven’t met.

  1. Become a cheerleader, a raving fan, and treasure your peeps. 

Before I went on Remote Year, I had a pretty jam-packed schedule attending events and meetings left, right, and center. People used to tell me I was crazy! Perhaps I am. However I LOVE people, and I love supporting people who are going after their dreams and are up to big things. You have to first offer support, if you are also looking for support in return. And we all need it.

And, treasure those people who are already important people in your life. Reach out to them regularly, Remember not only birthdays, but also important events, milestones, anniversaries. Take the time to let those important people in your life know how much they really matter to you.

So there you have it. Surround yourself with like-minded people, put yourself out there, and become a cheerleader, a raving fan, and treasure your people.

If you have someone in your life you think would benefit from this video, please share it with them! And let’s keep the conversation going. Which idea are you going to take on this week?

Share your ideas in the comments below.

And until next time, I’m Carol Schulte coming to you live from the Women Living Big Habitat for Humanity Build, surrounded and humbled by 22 powerhouse women. And don’t forget to keep dreaming big, playing big, and living big.

Who is in YOUR tribe? And if you don’t have one yet, who is one person you’d like in yours? Perhaps you may even want to reach out to them today!

Have a FAB week!

Carol

What do selfies, stickers, and scotch have in common?

What do selfies, stickers, and scotch have in common?

On Wednesday evening, while out for dinner with a few fabulous females in my life up to BIG things, we laughed until we cried. LITERALLY.

I hadn’t done that in while! And boy did it feel good.

I’m all about having fun – and yet sometimes I let the seriousness of business and all of the goings-ons (exciting as they are) to get in the way…

It was no wonder when we got back to my place that evening and ended up selling my pull-out couch to a random stranger turned friend (seriously, we’ve been texting back and forth and now we’re getting together!), we had so much FUN trying to maneuver this thing and all its pieces onto luggage carts and dollies and in and out of the elevator and into the borrowed van… hilarious.

Here’s what she wrote the next day: “We talked about how much fun we had picking up, conversing, laughing, problem solving and moving the couch… who knew it would be such an enjoyable experience and adventure! Best kijiji purchase and interaction EVER – a pure pleasure!”

That morning, my friend and sleepover guest and I decided to pull out daily meditation cards (shout out to May You Know Joy… LOVE these cards!) and not surprisingly, the one I happened to pick out of the deck was “Today, I choose playfulness.”

I do try to bring play into all I do, and yet sometimes I feel I need to apologize for it, or like I need to be more business-like, or appear more professional in how I present my brand both on and offline.

Yet if I’m honest, I actually think we need to bring MORE play into both our business world and into our lives!

And that’s why, as part of presentation I gave to the City of Brampton Economic Development Centre this week I taught the participants how to take the perfect seflie. Now although some were totally getting out of their comfort zones, there was also lots of laughter and they had FUN! (I know because a few said it was their favourite part of the presentation in their evaluations!!!)

And that’s why when working at the Lodge yesterday, and I gave out colourful little stickers to everyone there, faces brightened and shoulders dropped. There were fun conversations and neat connections that ensued.

And that’s also why, when invited to a scotch tasting event last night, even though I don’t even drink scotch, I said yes. Because although I have a LOT of exciting things going on and a lot to do, it’s also important to find time to PLAY.

In fact, I would dare to say I NEED to play in order to be more productive.

And I would dare to say YOU could use a bit more play in your life, too.

 

SO, what do selfies, stickers, and scotch have in common?

This week, to me, they all meant PLAY.

 

There you have it, folks! All roads lead to play.

I truly feel this is especially important to remember as we’re experiencing the aftermath of the election results. (I’m not going to go there and shall refrain from commenting – as I’m not about to open up Pandora’s Box – and yet I was certainly affected this week…)

So, how can YOU add a little bit of playfulness into your work and into your life this week?

Perhaps you want to get yourself some stickers, or have fun practicing selfies, or say yes to trying a new bevvy!

Or maybe you want to colour. Go the park and have fun on the swings. Race down the grocery store aisle with your cart just because. Play a practical joke on someone in your family or a colleague (sneakily fill the coffee pot with decaf instead of regular… that’s always a good one!)

Whatever you choose, I dare you to have some FUN this week. To allow yourself to play. To laugh until you cry.

It will make you feel SO good, trust me.

What do selfies, stickers, and scotch have in common? All roads lead to play! We ALL need more play in our lives. (Click to tweet it out!)

 

Have a FAB week!

Carol - high res

  

 

 

P.S. Speaking of play, toady is the LAST DAY to get your eariy bird tickets to join us at Aerosports next Tuesday! Rest assured there will be a LOT of #playingbig happening there!

P.P.S. If you’re ready to add more play into your life, then you’re going to want to learn more about The Tribe. Although it hasn’t officially launched yet, message me  for more info…

Wishing you 12 Moments of Christmas! (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa… whatever you celebrate!)

Wishing you 12 Moments of Christmas! (or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa… whatever you celebrate!)

Life is made up of moments. And special moments is what this season is made up of.

This holiday season, my wish for you is to be able to enjoy lots of special moments.

 

I wish you these 12 moments of Christmas.

 

May you enjoy a moment of joy.

Real joy… when your heart is smiling. Notice a moment when you are truly joyful.

 

May you enjoy a moment of laughter.

Catch yourself next time mid-laughter. Milk it. Indulge in it.

 

May you enjoy a moment of gratitude.

There is so much to be grateful for. Choose one thing you are especially grateful for. Inhale it in.

 

May you enjoy a moment of connection.

Allow yourself to fully be in somebody’s presence. Really see them, and let them see you.

 

May you enjoy a moment of peace.

Perhaps in silence, perhaps amidst the noise. Take a breath, and be still. If only for a moment.

 

May you enjoy a moment of love.

Maybe in giving, maybe in receiving. Experience a moment where love exists. Allow it to make your heart sing.

 

May you enjoy a moment of fun.

Whether planned, or unplanned, ensure you bask in a moment of full-on fun. I dare you.

 

May you enjoy a moment of reflection.

‘Tis also the time of year to look back on all that transpired, and look forward to all there is to come.

 

May you enjoy a moment of excitement.

Whether it’s experiencing the season through the eyes of a curious child, or putting yourself back there (I still kick my legs under my sheets every Christmas morning in sheer excitement! You’re never too old!), invite yourself to feel what it’s like to get excited.

 

May you enjoy a moment of giving.

It doesn’t have to be about gifts at this time of year. You can give with your heart through your time, your words, your thoughtful acts, your presence.

 

May you enjoy a moment of presence.

Amidst all that’s going on, take a moment to just be. Notice the world around you, notice your feet planted firmly on the ground, notice your heart pumping.

 

May you enjoy a moment of wonder.

There really is so much to be in awe and wonder of at this time of year. Take a moment to notice and appreciate just how wonderful a feeling of wonder is.

 

I don’t want you to feel any ‘shoulds’ around forcing any of these moments to transpire. I merely invite you to notice and indulge in some of these moments as they arise. Nothing to DO, instead I encourage you to simply BE this holiday season!

 

‘Tis the season for… moments. Experience the special moments. Enjoy the special moments. Make the season count. (Click to tweet it out!)

 

Happy Friday,  and enjoy your holidays!

P.S. If you are ready to make 2016 your best year yet, I encourage you to join us at ‘Intentions, Resolutions, and Goals, Oh My!’ on January 6th… tickets are going fast ~ so grab yours today!

Wanna be happy? Be grateful.

With today being the first day of Canadian Thanksgiving weekend (an amazing excuse to eat a ridiculous amount of food and enjoy time off with family and friends) it only makes sense to speak about gratitude and giving thanks.

 

grat-i-tude [ˈgrætɪˌtjuːd]
n: a feeling of thankfulness or appreciation

Although this holiday presents a perfect opportunity to go around the Thanksgiving table and share what everyone is grateful for, it may not be enough to do but once a year!

Research shows that having a regular gratitude practice can increase happiness by up to 25%. Some psychologists say it causes higher levels of positive emotions, yields healthier immune systems, allows for greater compassion and generosity, lowers blood pressure, increases self-worth and life’s meaning, improves interpersonal relationships, and causes more overall joy and optimism… the list goes on and is by no means exhaustive.

Hefty claims, perhaps, but I am sure there is a reason why so many folks and enlightened spiritual leaders follow some sort of a daily gratitude practice.

I was given an amazing book by a special cousin entitled One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She shares her journey – beautifully and poetically narrated – of discovery as to what it takes to live a full life. She is on a mission to find joy and grace and beauty in every moment, regardless of what life throws at her… “to learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty.”

It was a kind of dare – a love dare she called it – to write a list of one thousand blessings, one thousand things to be grateful for. She called it one thousand gifts. It wasn’t a list of gifts she wanted, but rather a list of gifts she already had. Morning shadows across the old floors. Jam piled high on the toast. Mail in the mailbox.

Practicing gratitude is easy when life is going swimmingly. But to be grateful in times of sadness or trouble – when down – is not always as easy. And so perhaps that is the challenge. Perhaps that is the practice. Perhaps that is the dare.

Life is full of ups and downs. We couldn’t experience joy if we also didn’t experience sadness. But within the naturally occurring ebb and flow, in good times and in bad times, being thankful is possible.

Voskamp writes: “Gratitude in the midst of death and divorce and debt – that’s the language I’ve got to learn to speak – because that’s the kind of life I am living, the kind I have to solve… To learn how to be grateful and happy, whether hands full or hands empty. That is a secret worth spending a life on learning. Even if it takes a Rosetta Stone of decades.”

Every morning, before I even get out of bed, I say out loud five things I am grateful for (as I do my 10 rotations of my 11 limbs… we all have our rituals and idiosyncrasies, right?!?) And it never fails to make me smile.

 This morning I was grateful for my family, my cozy sheets, the impromptu dance party after the baseball game at the Lodge on Queen last night, my accidental sleep-in, my yoga soundtrack.

What are YOU grateful for?

Whether hands full or hands empty, there will always be something to be grateful for. (Click to tweet it out!)

Happy gobble gobble weekend!

Carol - high res

 

5 Ways to Create Your Own Sunshine

My week in pictures: At ladies Martini Night – fundraiser for Million Dollar Smiles (yes there were firefighters and a catwalk!); DivaGirl conference (first time displaying my own banner!); doing a demo Cheer class at the conference (totally should have been a cheerleader!); Running the Yonge St. 10k representing TEAM Cdn Dash for Diabetes

I saw that yellow umbrella with the words ‘Create your own sunshine’ in a storefront display yesterday morning. Quite apropos, as the last few days in these parts have been grey and rainy and somewhat miserable (even saw some snow!)

Now I would be lying if I said I wasn’t affected by the weather. It’s a whole lot easier for me to smile and be happy when I see Mr. Sun. And on the flip side, I can get a little more down or slower moving when it’s grey and uninviting out there.

And yet, if we have control over our thoughts and our mindset – and we do – we can choose to rise above whatever the weather may be on the outside, and create our own sunshine on the inside.

Because you can’t rely on Mr. Sun to create your own internal sunshine. Only you can do that.

How? Here are 5 ideas:

1. Get outside. Make friends with the rain.

Wednesday was Earth Day. And it was also a little rainy and dull. A good reminder of how lucky we are to have Mother Nature looking after everything! For my workout, I was tempted to simply go to my gym and hop on the treadmill. But I decided that didn’t quite feel right ~ I needed to get outside! And so I put on my gear, grabbed my running rain jacket, and did just that. And it felt good.

There is something magical about being out in nature. Even if you do experience a few raindrops. When was the last time you truly experienced it? Smelled the fresh air? Took in all of the colours? Really felt the rain? Smiled in the wind?… when you do, your spirits can’t help but be lifted.

2. Have an attitude of gratitude. 

I know it’s not the first time you’re hearing this. And there’s a reason for that. It works! When I shared my morning rituals a ways back, you may remember the first thing I do when I wake up is smile (a small gesture with a big impact!) and then I list off 3 things I am grateful for. It automatically gets me in a positive mindset. Perhaps you might like to do it before you go to bed, maybe you keep a gratitude journal, or you prefer to share with your partner or spouse at the end of the day.

However you choose to do it, research has proven over and over again that those who have some type of gratitude practice experience far higher levels of happiness and positivity.

3. Play.

When was the last time you played a game or did something a little silly, just because? Take out your favourite board game. Go splash in some puddles. Honk at some stranger walking down the street on your side, and then start waving madly in the opposite direction to confuse them (I used to LOVE doing this when I was younger!)

Life and work can get so serious sometimes. Loosen up a little. Take 5 minutes for fun and play. Like my Living BIG challenge this month, when things get stressful, ask yourself ‘WTF?’ ~ Where’s The Fun???

4. Make it about someone else. 

When I am feeling a little low, I like to reach out and connect with someone else, make it about them instead of me. Call an old friend. Buy someone’s coffee. Send someone a little gag gift that reminded you of them. I wrote quite a few cards this week ~ and although yes, I love acknowledging others and who doesn’t love snail mail ~ I also knew it would make me feel warm and fuzzy, too.

When you do unto others, you end up doing unto yourself even more.

5. Connect with your why.

Some days it’s harder than others to jump out of bed and get into the groove. Such is life, I’m afraid. Yet when you are living your life on purpose, when you are on a larger mission, when you are connected to something greater ~ a little rain isn’t going to keep you from doing the work you need to do. Not sure what your why is or how to find out? Ask yourself what fires you up most, what makes your heart sing, what you want your legacy to be. Connect to that.

The happiest people on the planet are those that are living on purpose. We all have something or someone that inspires us… Take the time to remind yourself of that.

There you go. Want to create your own sunshine? Get outside. Have an attitude of gratitude. Play. Make it about someone else. Connect with your why.

Because you can’t rely on Mr. Sun to create your own internal sunshine. Only YOU can do that. (Click to tweet it out!)

Have a FAB week!

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AND, now I wanna here what YOU have to say! What are your best practices when it comes to creating your own sunshine? Please leave your comments below :-).

P.S. What are you doing next Wednesday, April 29th? Come and hear me speak at One Red Lipstick Live – a global movement for female entrepreneurs to share their stories. Check it out HERE. 

Do you get FOMO? (and 3 thirst-quenching ways to deal…)

FOMO, otherwise known as ‘FEAR OF MISSING OUT’ is when you feel as though you are missing out on that exciting event, party, or happening. Perhaps you are staying in on a Friday night and are feeling a little lame. Or maybe you’re creeping around on social media and get the sense everyone else has a lot more going on or is having a lot more fun than you.

Now these feelings are valid ~ after all, anytime you feel any sort of emotion it’s valid, the question is ~ is it warranted?

As my Theatre School Director used to say in her strong British accent, ‘There will ALWAYS be another party.’

Indeed there will be. And it would be simply impossible to keep up with every single event, opportunity, and happening going on all of the time. Especially when you are starting to really put yourself out there, are meeting new people, and are joining new groups.

So if it’s normal to feel it… what can you do about?

Here are 3 ideas:

1. Take caution when comparing your ‘everyday life’ to someone else’s ‘highlight reel.’ Often a lot of FOMO comes from social media… we are bombarded with fun pictures and good times showing up on our newsfeeds and notifications every minute. However, it’s important to remember it’s often the exciting stuff that is being highlighted on purpose. And it doesn’t mean that is everyday life… You may want to consider disconnecting from social media every now and again (or even more regularly!)

2. Take a moment to appreciate and feel gratitude for all you have.  It’s easy to fall into the comparison trap when you lose sight of all the exciting things going on in your own life. Sometimes we forget to take a step back and celebrate all that we have around us.

3. Take notice of what is really being triggered. Sometimes when we feel we are missing out it’s because there is something underneath going on. Perhaps we are craving connection, or a good conversation, or simply need a change of scene. Consider connecting with a close family member or an important friend in order to fill up your love bucket.

And remember, (insert British accent here) ‘there will ALWAYS be another party’ (Click to tweet it out!)

Now while I certainly do not encourage nor condone FOMO, if you really want to avoid it after hearing about how much fun tomorrow’s IGNITE event will entail, I suggest you register NOW!!! Only 3 seats left… and yes, it will be sold out. Here is the link, one last time (promise!) :-).

Have a FAB and FOMO-free week, everyone!

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