Give An Experience Gift This Year!

We all have so much STUFF! We will probably always want more stuff, but research shows that experiences make us much happier than things do. So this year, try giving someone an experience instead of a sweater or watch. We all get tired of our things, but a wonderful memory will never get old. I have listed some ideas so you can give the best gifts this year with none of the wrapping! Double bonus as this also means you will contribute less to landfills!

Give a gift that will be truly cherished!

Getaway Experience:

Give a road-trip – Include a gas card or car rental, a couple of snacks, and a map.

Weekend Get-Away – Especially nice for parents, get a gift certificate to a hotel for a couple and offer to babysit their kids for the weekend.

Help them Fly away: You can buy a friend points on their favorite airline that they can use towards a flight.

Relaxation Experience: 99.5% of us rarely take the time to relax, so give an excuse to take some time to unplug and de-stress. Give a gift certificate for a manicure, pedicure, massage, ancient baths, korean spa, sauna, acupuncture, facial, or meditation or yoga class.

Entertainment Experience: We all like to be entertained. Tickets to a show, theater, comedy club, concert, or movie are usually safe bets.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry Experience: Give a certificate for a restaurant, wine or beer tasting, or tour of a distillery.

Membership Experience: A gift that gives year round, the recipient will think of you gratefully every time they go. Memberships are available for museums, botanical garden, amusement parks, zoos, theaters, movie houses, and more. Chose based on your recipients interests.

Outdoorsy Experience: For those who love adventure and being outside consider lift passes to a ski slope, a park pass for a local national or state park, a bike or snowmobile tour, white-water rafting or rock-climbing experience, dog sledding, hot air balloon ride, or a sailing trip.

Kids Experience: Personally, I always worry if the toy or book I get for a child is something they already own. Which is why giving them an experience is a great option! A week at summer camp, a craft day, tickets to an amusement park, movie passes, or an ice skating, martial arts, or horseback riding lesson will be sure to put a smile on a young face.

Learning Experience: I am sure that most of us are familiar with the “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Who wouldn’t want to learn or expand a skill or area of interest? Give a class! Painting, writing, gardening, cooking, dancing, drawing, scuba-diving, or music lessons are all great options.

Helpful websites when looking for experiences to buy and give: Cloud9Living, GroupOn, Living Social, and Travel Zoo.

I think that when you give an experience, you are giving FUN. What could be better than that?

Happy Giving!

Just a Thought Before You Buy

 Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for what we have and the day after, Black Friday, is a day to go out and consume all the things we don’t. The focus shifts from appreciating all the gifts we already have in our lives to how we can get more stuff. I find this such an interesting contrast!

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Before we all dive head first into the holiday shopping I would like us to try to remember one simple thing: There is no direct link between more things and more happiness. So instead of getting stressed out about giving or receiving the perfect gift lets us take a step back and remember that the things are not so important. Consider a few questions to gain some perspective. What do we want to give to the world? Who and what do we want to support? What is the best use of our time? What impact would we like to make on this planet?

What do we really want to fill our lives with? More shoes and a bigger house? Or more love, experiences, people, growth, and a healthier world?

Okay, now make your wish and shopping list!

Joy is Not About Self-Satisfaction

“The really wonderful moments of joy in this world are not the moments of self-satisfaction, but self-forgetfulness. Standing on the edge of the Grand Canyon and contemplating your own greatness is pathological. At such moments we are made for a magnificent joy that comes from outside ourselves.”
― John Piper, Don’t Waste Your Life 

Standing in awe, looking out in the West Fjords in Iceland

Standing in awe, looking out in the West Fjords in Iceland

When was your last moment of self-forgetfulness?

Stop Pondering, Do Something

“Each day is an adventure in discovering the meaning of life. It is each little thing that you do that day – whether it be spending time with your friends, running in a cross-country meet or just simply staring at the crashing ocean- that holds the key to discovering the meaning of life. I would rather be out enjoying these things than pondering them. We may never really discover the meaning of life, but the knowledge we gain in our quest to discover it is truly more valuable. ”
― Jack Canfield

Hiking in the Alps

Hiking in the Alps

Four Things to Do Every Fall

Every change of season we see the shifts all around us in nature. The leaves are popping with color before they fly away.  The fall is the beginning of going within as the days get shorter and colder. It is a time to harvest the work done so far, to reorganize, communicate what we want, and set boundaries that serve us.

Fall is a time of organizing your life for the winter season ahead and looking more inside your body and mind to reflect on your life.  What do you really need? Where should you be putting your energy? It is a good time to take a week or two and do a fall cleanse, nourishing the lung and large intestine with the right foods and deeper breathing.  Acupuncture and other alternative therapies can help with any seasonal transition. I see many people suffer colds this time of year as the body adjusts to the changes around them.

As someone who loves the summer, I have a difficult time saying goodbye to the long days of sunlight, warm temperatures, and the potential for a day at the beach. Fall is a time for letting go. 

Things to do for fall:

1. Focus on deep breathing to nourish your lungs

2. Organize, Organize, Organize: prioritize projects in an excel sheet, clean out closets, get your finances in order, throw stuff out, and accomplish the tasks that have been sitting on your to do list. 

3. Cook yourself nourishing meals with all the fresh produce being harvested right now. Make extra and freeze to enjoy this winter. 

4. Get outside and play in a forest, near a waterfall, pumpkin patch, or apple orchard!

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The Seeds You Plant in Your Mind

“A man’s mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must, and will, bring forth. If no useful seeds are put into it, then an abundance of useless weed seeds will fall therein, and will continue to produce their kind.”  James Allen

The idea of the mind as a garden has always resonated with me. Just as we weed our gardens we must do the same for our minds. We must weed out the negative thoughts, prune away the things that are not serving us, and plant and nourish what we want to see bloom in our lives. 

Sunflowers in the Sky!

Sunflowers in the Sky!

“Think for a moment of a tomato plant. A healthy plant can have more than a hundred tomatoes on it. In order to get this tomato plant with all these tomatoes on it, we need to start with a small dried seed. That seed doesn’t look like a tomato plant. It sure doesn’t taste like a tomato plant. If you didn’t know for sure, you would not even believe it could be a tomato plant. However, let’s say you plant this seed in fertile soil, and you water it and let the sun shine on it.

When the first little tiny shoot comes up, you don’t stomp on it and say, “That’s not a tomato plant.” Rather, you look at it and say, “Oh boy! Here it comes,” and you watch it grow with delight. In time, if you continue to water it and give it lots of sunshine and pull away any weeds, you might have a tomato plant with more than a hundred luscious tomatoes.

It all begins with that one tiny seed.

It is the same with creating a new experience for yourself. The soil you plant in is your subconscious mind. The seed is the new affirmation. The whole new experience is in this tiny seed. You water it with affirmations. You let the sunshine of positive thoughts beam on it. You weed the garden by pulling out the negative thoughts that come up. And when you first see the tiniest little evidence, you don’t stomp on it and say, “That’s not enough!” Instead, you look at this first breakthrough and exclaim with glee, “Oh boy! Here it comes! It’s working!”

Then you watch it grow and see how your thoughts create your desire.” Louise Hay

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Nobody Knows What They Are Doing

“Unless you are already dead — mentally, emotionally, and socially — you cannot anticipate your life 5 years into the future. It will not develop as you expect. So just stop it. Stop assuming you can plan far ahead, stop obsessing about what is happening right now because it will change anyway, and get over the control issue about your life’s direction. Fortunately, because this is true, you can take even more chances and not lose anything; you cannot lose what you never had. Besides, most feelings of loss are in your mind anyway – few matter in the long-term.” Thomas

I remember being a teenager thinking about my future and seeing it clearly defined. First A (college degrees), then B (career), then C (marriage, house, 1.5 kids). The future was bright, clear, and guaranteed. I was following the steps, getting good grades, and ensured 5 gold stars at the end of finish line.

Now, it seems the finish line is in fact a bar that is continually rising higher and higher above all of our heads. The steps have disappeared. We now realize that life is not guided by a certain set of rules that guarantees A,B,C or X,Y, Z.

So, we are all just winging it. Floaters and dreamers trying to make the best next step with the knowledge we have, a bunch of educated guesses. The advice available around relationships, health, career, and finances is varied, ever-changing, and conflicting. Our relationships, career, health, and finances fluctuate and we can’t predict with certainty how any of it will turn out. We make the decisions we think are best for us and many times they are shots in the dark.  Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t but being able to go with the flow and having faith that things will eventually turn out okay will get you through a lot. No one knows it ALL so get really good at a few things, think outside the box, take risks, and keep moving forward with an optimistic attitude.

Don’t let “I don’t know” stop you. Neither does anyone else. We are all just figuring it out. And when in doubt “fake it til you make it.”

“The number one goal should be to try to become a better person, partner, parent, friend, colleague etc. — in other words to grow as an individual.”

You Don’t Have Time

“You might think, ‘I’ve got time to follow my dreams.’ You don’t have time. Life is short. The current life expectancy is 24,869 days. While some of us will live more days and some fewer, either way you have only a precious number of days to live this life, and so you do not have time to put off your dreams. It is now or never. If you don’t do it now, you will keep putting it off, and you’ll never do it. The time is now!” Rhonda Byrne

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I love the summer, the smell of the grass, the warmth, the vibrant colors, the activity. It is my favorite. I try to stop time as I stand outside with my arms spread wide, breathing deep, and look into the sunny sky. I lie in hammocks, wear sundresses, take rides on scooters, swim in lakes, hike mountains, walk barefoot in the grass, and dine alfresco. If I just soak it all in will it stay with me longer? Can I press the pause button?

There is no pause button, I’ve looked.

It is August already. The time goes by no matter how hard we try to hold on. So today, wake up and take some action, any action. Get clear on what you want or at least try something new if you don’t know what you want but are unhappy. Put your big girl/boy pants on and be brave enough to work towards a life that will make you feel fulfilled.

 

Choosing Kindness Over Winning

A Story for Your Heart

In Brooklyn, New York, Chush is a school that caters to learning-disabled children. Some children remain in Chush for their entire school career, while others can be mainstreamed into conventional schools. At a Chush fundraising dinner, the father of a Chush child delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he cried out, “Where is the perfection in my son Shaya? Everything God does is done with perfection. But my child cannot understand things as other children do. My child cannot remember facts and figures as other children do. Where is God’s perfection?” The audience was shocked by the question, pained by the father’s anguish and stilled by the piercing query.

“I believe,” the father answered, “that when God brings a child like this into the world, the perfection that he seeks is in the way people react to this child.” He then told the following story about his son Shaya.

One afternoon Shaya and his father walked past a park where some boys Shaya knew were playing baseball. Shaya asked, “Do you think they will let me play?” Shaya’s father knew that his son was not at all athletic and that most boys would not want him on their team. But Shaya’s father understood that if his son was chosen to play it would give him a comfortable sense of belonging. Shaya’s father approached one of the boys in the field and asked if Shaya could play. The boy looked around for guidance from his teammates. Getting none, he took matters into his own hands and said, “We are losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we’ll try to put him up to bat in the ninth inning.”

Shaya’s father was ecstatic as Shaya smiled broadly. Shaya was told to put on a glove and go out to play short center field. In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shaya’s team scored a few runs but was still behind by three. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shaya’s team scored again and now with two outs and the bases loaded, with the potential winning run on base, Shaya was scheduled to be up. Would the team actually let Shaya bat at this juncture and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shaya was given the bat. Everyone knew that it was all but impossible because Shaya didn’t even know-how to hold the bat properly, let alone hit with it. However as Shaya stepped up to the plate, the pitcher moved a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shaya should at least be able to make contact. The first pitch came in and Shaya swung clumsily and missed. One of Shaya’s teammates came up to Shaya and together they held the bat and faced the pitcher waiting for the next pitch. The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly toward Shaya. As the pitch came in, Shaya and his teammate swung at the bat and together they hit a slow ground ball to the pitcher. The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could easily have thrown the ball to the first baseman. Shaya would have been out and that would have ended the game. Instead, the pitcher took the ball and threw it on a high arc to right field, far beyond reach of the first baseman. Everyone started yelling, “Shaya, run to first. Run to first.” Never in his life had Shaya run to first. He scampered down the baseline wide-eyed and startled. By the time he reached first base, the right fielder had the ball. He could have thrown the ball to the second baseman who would tag out Shaya, who was still running.

But the right-fielder understood what the pitcher’s intentions were, so he threw the ball high and far over the third baseman’s head. Everyone yelled, “Run to second, run to second.” Shaya ran towards second base as the runners ahead of him deliriously circled the bases towards home. As Shaya reached second base, the opposing shortstop ran to him, turned him in the direction of third base and shouted, “Run to third. As Shaya rounded third, the boys from both teams ran behind him screaming, “Shaya run home.” Shaya ran home, stepped on home plate and all 18 boys lifted him on their shoulders and made him the hero, as he had just hit a “grand slam” and won the game for his team.

“That day,” said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, “those 18 boys reached their level of God’s perfection.”

Story retold as described from Wayne Dyer’s book, The Power of Intention.