New traditions…

Change. It’s never easy.

christmas tree lot

(photo credit: Steven Dipolo/Flickr)

Today a BIG change in our Christmas tradition happened.

My family will probably think I’m silly and overreacting about such a seemingly minor change. But I don’t care. I’m mourning the change…despite the fact that it’s medically necessary. Yes…I’m still bummed.

Here’s the deal…we’ve always had a REAL Christmas tree. For 32 years. Beginning with the “charlie brown” Christmas tree we had for our very first Christmas in New Orleans. Seriously, it was pitiful…but it was beautiful to me. We were far away from family…in our new home and simply couldn’t afford a big beautiful tree. My sweet husband had to work Christmas Eve; he stopped on the way home and picked up a free, leftover tree. It was small with bare branches. We didn’t even decorate it. It was perfect!

Shopping for our Christmas tree came to symbolize (for me) the beginning of our Christmas celebration. Through the years we shopped at various tree lots, Boy Scout lots, commercially owned lots, “whoever has the best price” lots. We’ve shopped in in the warm and cold, rain and snow, daylight and dark. We used to be a family of 4 scouring the lot for the perfect tree. We’ve had flocked and evergreen. As the kids have grown into adulthood, we’ve transitioned back to just hubby and I on the hunt. Memories of the anticipation, excitement, temperature, sights, smells, sounds, lights, fires in metal drums, sawdust mixed with evergreen boughs on the ground hold a special place in my memory and heart.

Last year we discovered a new reality. Within just a couple of hours of bringing the chosen tree into our home, my hubby came down with what would become a raging sinus infection. He was perfectly healthy prior to the tree entering our home. He has a history of some pretty nasty, seasonal sinus infections often progressing to bronchitis. We had just never noticed it in relation to the Christmas tree before….but it was crystal clear. The tree was definitely a trigger. So out it went! Immediately!

This weekend, after some supportive, comparison shopping with my daughter…we finally decided on an artificial tree. Purchasing it in a big box…bringing it home to the garage…just didn’t have the same “holiday feel” as picking out the perfect tree on a tree lot. My son helped get it out of the jeep and into the garage; so technically, we ALL were involved in picking THIS tree and bringing it into our home.

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New traditions. I sense there are memorable new traditions yet to develop. And hopefully, my husband will NOT be sick over the holidays this year or into the future. Healthy holidays are the plan!

Disclaimer: Christmas is clearly NOT about the tree. I know that. I value that the celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. The Christmas tree in our home is merely a seasonal symbol. I value the traditions which encourage us to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

Thanks for “listening”…I’m feeling better already! That was a fun trip down memory lane. Perhaps some new ornaments and holiday decor will help with the transition…

YOLO!

Jan

 

 

 

 

 

First quarter of 2014 is in the books…

How did you do with your first quarter goals? As we begin the 2nd quarter of 2014, it is important to do a review of your accomplishmentsImage (or lack thereof) in the 1st quarter of the year; are you progressing towards your annual goals?

Historically, I set annual goals at the beginning of the year and like a lot of people I often fell short, even forgetting what my original goals were. Both personal and professional. It becomes too easy to just “wing it”…and at the end of the year you/I am often wondering…where did the time go??

Working at Keller Williams, years ago, I learned the value of setting annual goals broken down into monthly goals and further broken down into weekly goals. . This system, called the 4-1-1 (4 weeks, 1 month, 1 year) is one of the best systems I’ve used for keeping my focus on the big picture – my annual goals.

This year, I’ve added in a quarterly review; businesses (and a lot of schools) operate on quarters and this timeframe just makes sense to me. While this is still short term, it is a bigger chunk of time than the monthly review and gives me a slightly bigger picture of where I am on the road to my ultimate destination – my annual goals. I find it also holds me accountable so I don’t lose track of time and procrastinate thinking “I’ve got 9 months left to accomplish that”. The older I get the quicker time seems to fly by; I’m realizing the value of using this goal review period as a management tool of my time. Let me rephrase that…as a management tool of my LIFE!

You’ve heard it before: Plan – Do – Review – Adjust….repeat…

This would be a REVIEW session:

Don’t forget to WRITE IT ALL DOWN!

  1. Review. Look back at the past 3 months. What did you accomplish? Did you progress toward your goals? What did you do to work towards your goals? What worked and what didn’t?
  2. Evaluate. How can you change things to improve progress? Do you need to bring yourself back on track? Are you happy with your progress and just need to stay the course?
  3. Re-prioritize or verify your priorities.  Make your main focus the MAIN focus for the next 3 months. It’s ok to defer appropriate items to later in the year. Just make sure they are part of your next quarterly review.

Going through this process will help you REFOCUS! Remember – just like your mother used to tell you – you can do anything you want and DECIDE to do! It will require action to make it happen. A goal without action is just a plan. You will never reach your goals without action.

This part is especially true for me: Get out of your own way. Take the actions that are necessary so your dreams can come true! Live with the spirit of YOLO!

YOLO!

-Jan

Tomorrow…

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Tomorrow…the beginning of a brand new year. You can be anyone you want. Accomplish anything you want. I thought I’d share some thoughts from my own reflection, studying, reading, and planning to guide you:

  • The best day of your life is the day you decide your life is your own. No one to lean on, rely on or blame.
  • Life is about the choices you make. Choose wisely.
  • Live your life on purpose.
  • The gift of life is yours, it is an amazing journey, make the best of it.
  • Every single day matters.
  • Love always.
  • Be authentic.
  • Life is now.
  • You are the hero of your own story.
  • Keep your word.
  • Give back.
  • Be grateful.
  • Live passionately.
  • Mentor someone.
  • Forgive.
  • Be present.
  • Don’t “go” through life, GROW through life!

Begin your new book…tomorrow. It just so happens that THIS tomorrow falls as the FIRST day of the NEW YEAR!

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Have a safe and happy celebration wherever you may be.

Make it a good year!! And remember…

YOLO!

~Jan

Oh the places you’ll go…

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You have brains in your head and feet in your shoes

You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

You’re on your own and you know what you know

And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.    ~Dr. Seuss

You guessed it! Goal setting time for the new year….my brains are busy trying to decide where my heart and shoes are steering me. So many options.

YOLO!

Jan

If you want something…

“If you want something, go get it. Period.”

I absolutely love this video clip. Don’t let anyone steal your dreams.

In honor of Father’s Day – I’m sharing this clip of this wonderful advice given by a father to his young son.

We had an amazing Father’s Day here! First church, then lunch with our son, a wonderful phone call to my Dad, followed by dinner with our son, daughter and her fiancee. Our children claim they did NOT collaborate on gifts for their Dad; yet the gifts were perfect compliments to each other. An amazing coincidence? Or children who actually KNOW their dad? I choose to believe the latter. No matter what, the house was filled with smiles, laughter and love.

Richard has always been a dreamer and has followed his dreams without regret. I hope our children have learned the ability to do the same. Life is to short to do anything less. Enjoy.

YOLO!

Jan

 

I’m not old…I’m living in the moment!

Watching birds at our backyard bird feeder and bird bath has become a daily ritual for my husband and I…when we slip into “bird” conversation, ie. mention a species of bird we think we saw, attempt to identify a newcomer or describe the activities of birds in the bird bath…I often immediately judge us as “old”.

Geez – we sound like your father! Papaw used to love feeding the birds. He fed the birds every day at the store (we owned). It’s one of the many fond memories I have of the time he lived and worked with us.

And please don’t let our adult children hear our conversation…they will laugh and DECLARE us as OLD!!

As I’m sitting in one of my favorite chairs, feet propped up, with a clear view of the bird feeder and bird bath, sipping a cup of hot tea while I “wake up”…I notice a robin taking a rather aggressive bath in the bird bath. I think to myself, “only a couple of days ago, that bath was frozen solid”. It’s amazing how the birds NOTICE when things have changed, the water has thawed and not only can they now drink the water…they can bathe in it too. I wonder how good that must feel to the bird. He really seems to be enjoying it! (I know how dreadful I feel when I haven’t had a shower in just a day!) How incredible that they are so in tune with their surroundings…I mean…how do they find our measly little bath in this big ‘ol world?

Anyway…all this is going on in my head. I again smile and internally tease myself about being…getting…”old”…

Suddenly I realize…I’m not OLD!

I’m living in the moment!

Isn’t this what I’ve been striving to do? Savor each moment of NOW. Notice what is going on around me. Live in THIS moment.

Perhaps “old” people have simply learned to notice THIS moment. Perhaps the stage of life they are in contributes to that ability. When I was in my 20’s, 30’s and even 40’s I was so busy with LIFE pulling me in all different directions that I’m confident I didn’t savor each moment…or even notice the GIFTS of each moment. Looking back, I wish I could change that.

I can however change my perspective from this moment on. I will allow myself, heck…I’ll ENCOURAGE myself to live in THIS moment.

Observe. Listen. Live. Be fully present.

So children…laugh if you will…go ahead and call me old; I know that I am living and loving THIS moment…and enjoying the sound of YOUR laughter…it’s one of the sweetest sounds there is.

My backyard friends are calling…

(image from fungopher.com)

YOLO!

Jan

Health = Wealth

Today is the first day of the rest of MY life!! Have you heard that before? Have you embraced the concept? I am!

I’ve made a commitment to MYSELF this year to get healthier. I’m convinced that Health = Wealth. Without health we’ve got nothing…make that I’ve got nothing.

While visiting family over the holidays, we celebrated the one year anniversary of sobriety for my brother-in-law, Bryan. We are very proud of him! I am confident the journey to that one year mark was not always an easy one! During one of our gatherings, someone offered me a glass of wine…I hesitated because Bryan was present…I didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable. His immediate response to me?

MY drinking problem has nothing to do with how much YOU drink.

WOW! What a great statement that is…and I need to apply it to MY drug of choice…FOOD!

For years, I’ve allowed myself to be sabotoged by those around me…and it’s time to STOP! I can go out to eat with my family, I can go to someone’s house for a meal…but I, and I alone am responsible for what goes on my fork! So for now on…my mantra to the food pushers around me is:

MY eating problem has nothing to do with how much YOU eat.

As much as I want those around me to be at their healthiest too – I cannot control the choices they make. I can only control what I put on MY fork and into MY mouth!

Beginning today – I’m focusing on :

  • eating REAL, whole, fresh, organic, unprocessed foods
  • eating lots of colorful fruits and vegetables
  • eating foods with plenty of fiber
  • eating foods with healthy omega-3 fats

I am owning the responsibility for what I put on my fork. I challenge you to do the same!

It’s time for us to become the healthiest versions of ourselves possible!

YOLO!

Jan

Donkey in the Well

One day a farmer’s donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally he decided the animal was old and the well needed to be covered up anyway, it just wasn’t worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbors to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone’s amazement, he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well and was astonished at what he saw. With every shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer’s neighbors continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon, everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and trotted off!

Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a stepping-stone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up!

—anonymous

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

  • Free your heart from hatred
  • Free your mind from worries
  • Live simply
  • Give more
  • Expect less
Shaking some dirt off my feet today and stepping up and forward…
YOLO!
Jan