Tag Archives: resolutions

Celebrate Each Day in Your Own Way

Happy New Year! Although I frequently avoid New Year’s resolutions, I’m resolving in 2011 to savor small pleasures of life and to create more small moments of celebration. I’ll admit I’m not one for large parties, and even our New Year’s celebration is low key. But I read a book called Love by the Glass, which has inspired me to be more intentional and romantic in small, yet meaningful ways.

Wall Street Journal wine columnists Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher co-wrote the book—part memoir, part wine tutorial—which is about celebrating and creating romance in everyday life. What struck me most is not how much they know about wine (they know a lot), but how they created rituals, such as a special toast they always did (“to your face”/”to your bottom”), or the moments they created after work, or when the sun was setting on vacation, or after their kids were in bed, that just happened to be around wine.

While I don’t intend to significantly increase my wine consumption this year, it made me realize that savoring good food and drink, buying flowers or lighting a relaxing candle, or indulging in a favorite dessert are all ways I can create moments of celebration, especially with my sweetheart. Whether your ritual is great coffee or great wine, creating fun rituals that surround what you enjoy can be uplifting. I’ve had to fight my rather practical nature in this regard, as these items are “unnecessary” in our daily lives. However, upon reflection, I think special gestures and things that stimulate the senses are indeed necessary for inspiring an extraordinary life.

Last week, I shopped for new candles, bought dark chocolate covered tart cherries, flowers, and wine and incorporated these items into our regular day along with good music. Basically, I created an atmosphere that appealed more to my senses. I read some good books to stimulate my mind and allowed time for relaxation. I believe the positive energy was good for the entire family, and it helped me think more clearly.

Part of creating moments of celebration is also realizing how much we have to celebrate—a clean bill of health after your checkup, another year of gainful employment, a loving spouse by your side, a bonus or raise, a robust child. As Gaiter and Brecher share in their book, “Great wine experiences don’t compare with great life experiences. Relax and enjoy it.”

One of their WSJ columns (Tastings) was themed “Open That Bottle Night.” It was centered on the idea that we often save special items for a future special time, and that time never comes. Many wine lovers have a special bottle they are waiting for the right moment to enjoy. Others save lingerie for a special night, or never light the candles because they are saving them for who-knows-what. Gaiter and Bucher proposed planning that night right now, creating a special menu and evening, then opening the bottle and savoring it with those you love. They received an outpouring of letters from readers who did just that and shared their stories. Is there something you are waiting for? Memories in 2012 will be what we create this year; hopefully we will be intentional about them. Use the china. Eat in the dining room. Wear the nice dress or the good underwear. Buy her favorite flowers.

What I enjoyed most about the book was the life story, how the co-authors, a white Jewish man and an outgoing southern African-American women with an afro, fell in love at first sight in the newsroom on their first day of work. I enjoyed following their travels, particularly the train trips when they just stared out the window watching the world go by while drinking champagne and eating meals in bed. I was touched by their struggle with infertility and their eventual success at having two young girls, only to be told that “Dottie” had a terminal illness and would live only four months. The doctors were wrong about the diagnosis, but they lived those four months believing they would be her last. I’m not sure if that’s a gift or a curse, but I think it’s one of the reasons they became even more intentional about celebrating every moment of life.

What is something you can celebrate today, or next month? What is a small element you can add to your home or bedroom that would stimulate your senses? How about planning a favorite meal of your spouse, or making dinner reservations if you don’t like to cook? How about coming up with a thoughtful toast, or a ritual toast that is just between you two? Consider placing a weekly or monthly reminder on your calendar to remind yourself to create and find special moments in which to celebrate. Small gestures are fine, or go big and plan a weekend away or renewal of your wedding vows. Best wishes in the New Year for opportunities to savor life to its fullest.

Photo credit: PhotoXpress.com

Celebrate good times with spouse to strengthen your bond

Tough times don’t necessarily bring a couple closer, but the way you celebrate big and small successes can strengthen your bond. A study by the University of California-Santa Barbara, reported in this January’s Redbook that couples who celebrate together–everything from completing a home project to earning a promotion or reaching a small goal–have the happiest, most trusting, and most committed relationships.

“When your partner receives bad news, the best you can do is try to ease his pain,” says the study’s lead author Shelly Gable, PhD. “But when you share in his excitement, it boosts happiness becasue he feels like his joy is yours too.”

While you should try to be supportive during the bad times, look for small successes to celebrate in your day or in your week. Celebrate even movement toward a goal, and especially accomplishment of a goal. Friends have a way of enthusiastically supporting one another, but sometimes with a spouse it is easier to become mundane about hearing the minutia of their day or the mini-steps toward their professional or personal goals. Instead, listen for things you can celebrate together. Make a toast. Cook a special dinner. Give a big hug. Mail a card. Send an email. Plan a date. But don’t let the sun go down before cheering on your sweetie.

Speaking of things to celebrate as we enter 2010, I’m happy to report more than 1,300 readers visited LifeGems4Marriage in December and approximately 8,000 people visited the blog since its inception. Thanks for reading and for helping me celebrate what marriage can be.

Happy new year! Don’t forget to read 10 tips for making 2010 less busy and more productive.

What is Your True Path? How Can You Achieve Your Goal?

Several times a year, particularly at each New Year, I think it’s helpful to reevaluate where you’ve been recently and where you are going in your life. A few different people recently provided me with tidbits of wisdom about their chosen paths and how to achieve their goals, and together they provided an “aha” moment.

The first friend noted that even if you are “on the right path” it doesn’t help if you are just sitting on it, not moving. How true. Just imagine yourself sitting and having a snack on your true golden path and not moving an inch. What do you need to give yourself a kick in the pants to get moving? Do you need to remove an obstacle in front of you?

During another discussion, I realized that we should visualize our path being on water, not on land. What could be more appropriate since many people view water as a symbol of life? Picture yourself in a lovely sail boat. If you are in your boat and on the right path but not moving, you are actually drifting and will end up farther and farther from your goal.

The final piece of wisdom came from a teacher friend. She used the boat analogy in the context of learning. We rarely learn in a linear fashion, but more with fits and starts, as with sailing in different conditions. To reach an objective, we need to continue to navigate with a series of tacks (as any sailor knows), rather than sail in a straight line, as a result of outside influences (wind, waves). This analogy applies well to learning something new or working toward a goal. The winds are the outside pressures of the world.  Some days the winds will be with you, and sometimes against you. The waves are the obstacles of life. Rarely is there a perfectly calm day, and some days there are tremendous storms that you must weather. Many people find family, friends, prayer and faith in God sustains them during these turbulent times. Sustained effort is required to make it through.

I recently finished reading a book my brother sent me called Sailing Grace by John Otterbacher, in which a young and seemingly healthy man suffers extreme heart trouble over several years. After too many heart surgeries to recount, his options were limited to heart transplant or go on living in hopes another traumatic heart episode did not occur. Even this dire health situation didn’t keep him from his dream of sailing the world with his wife and two daughters. They eventually spent more than five years at sea and in various harbors along the way, despite his chest pain. They encountered frightening and life-threatening storms and saw amazing sights. While I myself can’t imagine taking such a risk, they kept their focus on their dream, made continual adjustments, and achieved it. It puts our smaller obstacles in perspective.

What’s your dream? What are your goals this year–for your relationships, spiritual growth, career, children and family? What’s standing in your way? If you’re on the right path, are you moving in the right direction? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and keep your eye on the goal. I hope the winds are blowing in your favor.

10 Steps to Make 2009 Less Busy, More Productive

Are you busy or fruitful? I heard this question recently, and it caused me to think about how the busyness of life can keep us from the important things, the goals we want to achieve in our families, relationships and professional lives. I’m not one to make resolutions each year, but I am one to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Look back at your 2008—was it very productive? Or were you frequently overwhelmed by your to-do list?

 

Here are some strategies I’ve tried to use to make my life less busy and more fruitful. (I’m a work in progress.)

1.      Set goals based on your talents and true calling. What is your passion? Write down some smaller steps to help you reach your goal.

2.      Spend more time thinking (or in prayer/meditation) and reading good books and less time watching TV. These activities boost creativity and energy and help us focus.

3.      Reduce your intake of negative news. As a Journalism major, this was tough for me, but I’ve gained more than an hour a day of time and reduced my anxiety level.

4.      Consolidate errands, go online or do without. Do you really need a new outfit or another car wash, or can you spend the time/money elsewhere?

5.      Delegate, ask for help or just say no to things you do not want on your to-do list.

6.      Stop complaining to those who cannot correct a situation. Address problems with the appropriate sources, but don’t waste everyone else’s time over it.

7.      Make peace. Resolve conflicts with people in your life; you’ll spend too much time and energy stewing over unresolved conflicts.

8.      Encourage and help others, especially the less fortunate.

9.      At the beginning of each day, think about what you’d like to accomplish (write it down) and the attitude you would like to project to others.

10.  At the end of each day, evaluate how you did on #9, and consider what changes you may need to make.

So, what are your goals for ‘09? Please share the time-saving tips that have worked for you. And best wishes for a happy and most productive new year!