As we draw near to Easter, I have been thinking about what good news might sound like right now. Would it sound like peace and reconciliation between vengeful populations? Would it be the sound of the “right” presidential candidate winning the election? Would it sound like rain falling on California’s parched land?
I spent this past weekend celebrating a friend’s wedding in Columbus, Ohio. If you’ve ever been involved with a wedding– yours or someone else’s– then you’re aware of all the fanfare and fuss that surround it. Not only are there standard elements in almost every wedding ceremony, but there are also rehearsal dinners, toasts, first looks, dancing, dining, and so much more. It is an event nearly defined by rituals. Marriage itself seems something entirely different.
In the whirlwind of preparation before the wedding, she and I sat in a moment of quiet reflection. We need rituals, she said. Perhaps they don’t change anything in our physical reality– but in our emotional-spiritual space, rituals occupy a lot of significance.
Gratitude: I’m working on it. It seems that outside the month of November where Thanksgiving is nestled, our culture isn’t a particularly grateful one. We’re consumers by economy, and as a result we’re constantly told to want more, acquire more, dream of more. While there is nothing wrong with more— of the right thing, that is– it can often lead us to feel dissatisfied with our now.
Aaron and I recently decided to sponsor a child through Compassion International— a program that connects vulnerable children with people who desire to be a part of those children’s journeys. Compassion’s sponsorship program has been vetted by research after many years in operation, and I am so excited to share more about this partnership once I start learning more. Our little friend’s name is Santiago and he lives in Mexico. He’ll be turning 5 years old in June!
Back to gratitude: it’s hard to cultivate. I find that often the inspiration to be grateful is based on guilt– our lives are so much better than those of others (perhaps my life compared with Santiago’s) and I am supposed to remember to feel grateful for all the conveniences and luxuries I enjoy.
But gratitude really should not require comparing your situation with someone else’s so that yours doesn’t look so bad. Instead, it’s a manner of acknowledging that while nothing is for certain and that we are far less deserving than we seem to think, good things have come our way. Somehow, despite the offenses we’ve committed, the mistakes we’ve made, or the misfortune we’ve experienced, we still live and breathe in a world in which purpose can be found. That’s worth celebrating.
Building practices: why we need habits
If you’ve been around this blog for a while, you know that I’m a proponent of both ideological change and habitual change. Without one, we can’t really have the other. Our actions are shaped by our desires, just as our desires are shaped by our actions.
So when it comes to gratitude, I don’t think we can just wait until we “feel it.” Instead, we can train ourselves into habits that help us see the realities we hope to see– the myriad blessings in our lives, the good work to which we are called, the truth that sets us free.
I have come a long way in this area. I used to be able to enter the first letter of my favorite brands into my search bar, and their full URLs would pop up. That’s how often I “window-shopped” online. Of course, said window-shopping quickly became real shopping.
There are many reasons to limit unnecessary shopping, but they might not be the ones that immediately come to mind. Avoiding unnecessary purchases can certainly save money, but saving money isn’t everyone’s highest priority. Perhaps there are things you desire more deeply than a stash of cash: courage, generosity, community, purpose, joy… and limiting your shopping can help with those things, too.
I had promised in this Instagram post that stories and photographs from the Sahara would come out this morning, but alas– we have a surprise visitor with us tonight and I’m not quite done editing.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about why most of us hate to wait. We dislike waiting in line at the grocery store. We don’t like to wait for our meals at a restaurant. And we certainly do not enjoy waiting to hear the outcome of something in which we’re deeply invested. At the edge of our seats, completely without control over the situation, we experience a tiny bit of humiliation in the limits of our power. We already know what it is we want, but no matter how much we will we cannot make it so….Continue Reading
Have you ever wanted to drastically change something about your life? Perhaps it was a habit you wanted to quit, or a habit you wanted start. Maybe you wanted to finally “grow up” in an area of your life, such as your finances, your health or your relationships. Perhaps you’re seeking to make a transition in your career or interests, but find yourself doing the same thing year after year. Why does that happen?
When we were in Morocco, our guide got used to us being 10-15 minutes late to everything. Eventually, he got tired of reassuring us and we got tired of apologizing– so he told us this: “In the West you have watch. In Africa we have time.”
I can still hear his accent and see his charming smile as he calmed his weary guests. Whether he ought to have spoken for the entire continent of Africa was irrelevant– I, on the other hand, am certainly familiar with the culture of rushing, even while on vacation. What is it that we love about efficiency?
Words are everywhere. We are constantly bombarded with messages, promotions, updates, advertisements and campaigns, and the majority of it will add very little value to our lives. Despite my efforts to subscribe only to useful newsletters, I can easily receive over 50 automated emails a day. The value of the word– written and spoken– is decreasing. I call it verbal inflation.
And as those voices clamor for our attention, we wrestle with our own need to be heard. Words gush out of us when we’re tired, frustrated, passionate, contemplative or even confused.
So how do we reconcile our need for verbal expression with the fact that everyone– including ourselves– experiences a verbal overload on a regular basis? How do we become powerful speakers (or writers) whose words actually matter?
It’s no secret that we Americans spend billions of dollars every holiday season purchasing gifts for each other. It’s also no secret that many products we purchase are made in industries that have been neglectful (at best) when it comes to the lives of factory workers.
Most of the time, we shop for the best deals: what’s in it for me? Can I get this any cheaper? Can I finish this any faster? We often forget that we’re usually the last person in the story behind the item. Someone else gathered the materials, assembled them, packed them, shipped them, and put them out for display.
Can we really make a difference?
We’re all aware of the social problems associated with fast fashion and cheap food– but we can also feel powerless to change any of these systems of injustice. I have good news for you today: your purchases can make a positive impact on the lives of needy people around the world.
I’m passionate about this issue because I love gift giving. In recent years I’ve reined in my spending and given humbler gifts, but the process of selecting something special for someone special still makes my heart happy. So if you’re like me– and you’re not sitting out on gift giving this year– check out these amazing companies that are doing good things around the world!
Friends might already be mourning the passing of another year and setting hopes and expectations for 2016, but this year isn’t over yet! 2015 still has a good 30 days, and a lot can happen in 30 days.
If you’ve come to the end of this year anxious, tired, and with a little regret, you’re not alone. Time flies and time crawls, but we can feel especially nostalgic in December. Most of us struggled to keep our New Year’s resolutions– and many of us were surprised by unexpected ups and downs this year. For whatever reason, 2015 might not have been all that you hoped it would be.
New Year, Old You?
Somehow we think that January is a good month to change all the bad habits we regret indulging in December. But the truth is, change happens whenever we make it happen— and change is difficult no matter what month we’re in. The reason why years go by and we still haven’t created new habits is perhaps that we’re trying to do it all at once.
There is too much pressure on January, and what we really need to do is to see value in the moments we have right now. I’ve compiled a list of goals I have for the rest of this year (and going into next year). Let’s not lay 2015 to rest just yet!
In the wake of tragedy– whether personal or global– we find ourselves asking questions that often lie dormant when things are going “just fine.”
The challenge of living in this tension we call the human experience, where we fluctuate between exceeding joy and exceeding despair, is choosing to make meaningful the small slice of agency we have, the domain that is ours alone.
One of the reasons why I’ve become such a champion of courage (I even wrote a short ebook on it here) is that I believe it gives us the ability to live with conviction. We can proclaim anything we want, but courage makes those convictions concrete.
I didn’t grow up in a family that watched much American television. In fact, my family didn’t watch any television– we owned a TV for years without actually knowing how to turn it on.
As far as I know, there were no truly strong moral objections to television. There was just always something better to do. My dad was a bookworm and my mom was always busy with something, so I rarely saw anyone watching a show or reading a magazine.
More importantly, my lack of exposure to TV– and all its nightly wonders–became a point of embarrassment. In middle school, I didn’t watch the shows that all my classmates were watching and talking about. I didn’t follow sports. I didn’t know who was in, who was out, who was hot, who was not, and who was the next best thing.
As I gained some independence and some Internet savvy, I decided it was time to learn all these names. Whether or not I had seen their movies or shows, I wanted to recognize these public icons that everyone seemed obsessed with. It was as though our lives would not be complete if we weren’t up-to-date on theirs.
I am so thrilled to have Sheryl from How To Make A Life on the blog today with some tips for self care. The holidays are a busy time, and we need to develop rhythms to practice peace, relaxation, and true enjoyment during this season.
Hello everyone! I’m Sheryl from How to Make A Life. I regularly blog about practicing self care and finding inspiration in your daily life. Today I am thankful Daisy is letting me spend some time with her readers.
For many people, Halloween marks the beginning of the holiday season and one of the busiest times of the year. This time of year is always so much fun but it takes no time at all for our schedules to become full. Sadly, practicing self care becomes an after thought. Today I wanted to share with you a few suggestions for taking care of yourself during the Holiday season.
How to practice self care this holiday season
First, I hope that you have some form of self care routine in your life, if not, I encourage you to check out my suggestions. I thought I would approach self care from three different perspectives throughout the coming months.. The season can be overwhelming but can also be manageable and enjoyed.
Put everything on your calendar
This seems like a logical idea. However, we often receive so many invitations and have various deadlines that we often neglect putting everything down on the calendar. Thus, we find ourselves stressed out and double booked.
If you haven’t already, sit down with your calendar and block off the dates of family events, parties, work events, and concerts. Additionally, it is a good idea to plan when you would like to go shopping (for groceries if you are having a dinner party and Christmas shopping). I also encourage you to schedule on self care event per week. This can be scheduling a haircut or mani/pedi or coffee/girls night out with friends.
Putting things down on a calendar will enable you to have a better view of your time. This will also help you with knowing if there are events you need to say no to.
Review your calendar
Have things changed? Do you need to reschedule events? What needs to be done this week? Acknowledge that life can change quickly and activities and events may need to be triaged as needed on a weekly basis.
Make a List
Prioritize what needs to be done first. Do you grocery shop once per week? How many nights will you be having dinner at home? It helps to have an idea of what need to be done. I have found that writing the activities down in my calendar helps me more than keeping a mental list.
Make this the first thing you do each morning after getting out of bed. When we become stressed and overbooked, our bodies hold tension. Rather than hitting the alarm clock and rushing out of bed, practice simple stretches such as neck and shoulder rolls, side and back bends. Continue to do this throughout the day when you feel tight. If you need some suggestions for simple stretches throughout the day, visit my pinterest board Stretch.
When life becomes hectic, it is not unusual to find yourself holding your breath or breathing shallow. If you find yourself sighing, you are likely holding your breath. Throughout the day, practice slowing inhaling and exhaling. This can be something you practice while waiting in that long line or sitting at a stop light.
Make Time for Yourself
Rushing through the day does not make you accomplish things faster and often creates more havoc. Each day make sure you are taking at least 5 – 10 minutes to just be. Look through a magazine or watch a TV show. Call a friend just to check in.
Research shows that daily acknowledging three items you are thankful for helps to improve your mood and overall health. This time of year can become extremely stressful to the point that slowing down to think about three times each day can be difficult. This is a great time of year to begin the practice of a gratitude journal. Before bed each night think of what has happened that day. There have been days where for me it was someone held the door open or the car in front of me purchased my coffee. Try to look at the day differently but it’s also ok to use some of the same items (like your husband and kids).
These suggestions are not new but when practiced on a regular basis can truly make a difference. If you are looking for additional thoughts on self care, I encourage you to read How to Create a Self Care Box.
I hope by implementing a few of these suggestions you will have a less stressed and more enjoyable holiday season.
Do you have a self care routine? What works for you? I would love to hear your thoughts and ideas.
We’ve all heard the adage that hindsight is 20/20, but that’s no consolation for poor decisions made. We can easily become so wrapped up in self-punishment for the past that we experience very little life in the present.
While all of us have regrets– large and small– we also have the agency to choose what to do with them. And specifically, there are lifestyle choices we can make to minimize the likelihood to regret our present decisions in the future.
Minimalism doesn’t solve everything
After I wrote 5 Minimalist Secrets to Saving Money, I quickly realized that I did not intend for it to be a catch-all solution to better financial management. There are just a few philosophical aspects of the minimalism movement that are particularly helpful for those trying to spend responsibly.
It’s the same, in my opinion, with regret. If we consider ourselves minimalists (in one or many areas of our lives), then we are forced to approach our decisions with useful principles.
Ultimately, I don’t think that minimalism– or simple living of any variety– should be about the financial bottom line. It should help our daily lives reflect more what our deepest desires and core values are. And when that happens, it’s very likely that our list of regrets will shorten, if not disappear altogether.
I used to roll my eyes when older people would say, “Youth is wasted on the young.” Now I’m one of those old(er) people.
The past few weeks, my vision has started to get blurry. I have a hard time reading screens especially (which is why my posts have become less frequent), and need to look away or close my eyes after about half a minute of screen time.
I finally made it to the optometrist who told me that the surface of my eyes is chapped. I’m going to have to stop wearing contacts until things heal, which can take a while. Though I don’t love wearing glasses, I’m grateful that my vision should return to normal eventually. Then the thought of permanent damage got me thinking.
We take our health for granted… until we don’t.
I was fortunate enough to not have to experience too many health issues growing up. I would get sick a few times a year, but I would always bounce back.
Losing dependable vision the past few weeks has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to have a physical disability. I also felt convicted for how I’ve taken my eyesight for granted for so many years– it has never failed me, until now.
Choosing to value our bodies
I come from communities where there’s a lot of focus on the mind and heart. We talk about issues of education, spiritual formation, positive thinking, growth mindset, and more; most of our focus is on the immaterial.
But I believe that salvation is holistic. I believe that healing is about mind, body and spirit. Our bodies are just as important as our minds and hearts, even if there’s not nearly as much literature covering physical health as there is covering philosophy, religion, policy and humanity.