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PB

Looking for ways to volunteer this holiday season?

Are you interested in lending a hand to those less fortunate this holiday season? Good for you! I knew you were awesome!

 

If you’re looking for some ideas on where to start, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve compiled a list of volunteering and donating resources just for you. The holidays are an excellent time to give back– I suggest choosing something as a family and then spending time to reflect and give thanks after the experience.

 

There are a ton of ways you can pay it forward this season, yo! Check it out!

#GivingTuesday

Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, it kind of kicks off the season of giving. This year that day is November 29th. Check out their website for some awesome ways to volunteer or donate in your community. I’m planning on a #givingtuesday Instagram challenge, so stay tuned.

Sponsor a family in need

So many families are struggling just to make ends meat, so giving their children a magical Christmas and a full belly is out of the question. Well, not so fast. There are ways you can help. Check out this site and adopt a family in need this season. You will be giving them a wonderful gift and letting them know that there are people who care.

Serve food at your local homeless shelter

This is always a crowd pleaser. It gets you and your family right in the heart of the homeless epidemic, humanizing those faces you drive by on your way to the grocery store. It’s a great way to learn about empathy and compassion, as well as, an opportunity to count your many blessings.  The National Coalition for the Homeless is a great place to start to see where you can help out in your community.

Give a gift to child in need

Toys for Tots is still going strong and is hugely popular with kids. You will see your own kids light up when they are able to feel responsible for giving a gift to another child. Just choose a card off the tree, normally located at your nearest mall, and go shopping for that item. Allow this to be a way to open up a conversation with your kids about those that have less than them.  It’s a beautiful way to teach them about the power of kindness. For more information on Toys for Tots in your area click here.

Donate to older foster youth

As someone who used to be a caseworker for kids between 13-18, this is something super close to my heart. These are the kids who often get over looked during the holidays. A great way to give to these kids is to look up your local Independent Living Program. This program is designed to help foster youth transition from foster care to the real world. You can also contact any foster care agency in your community. During the holidays these programs are always looking for donated gifts. Often a gift card and a few supplies that would be useful in their own (future) apartment (towels, linens, cookware, microwave) is the way to go. Even better if you can add an age appropriate personal touch for them to open.

Meals on Wheels

Meals on Wheels has been helping local seniors stay independent since it’s conception in Philadelphia in 1954. It is now in nearly every community across the United States! This program provides healthy meals to our aging neighbors and allows for them to socialize with the volunteers–a blessing to so many who live in isolation. Just go to their website and you can easily find your local chapter and sign up to volunteer.

Spend time with a senior

I read somewhere that around 50% of seniors in nursing homes and assisted living programs don’t receive any visitors. That is HEARTBREAKING!  This site is awesome for pointing you in the right direction if spending time with a senior is up your alley. I think this is another great thing to do with children, and could really make all the difference this Christmas to a lonely senior.

Okay

There is a starting point for you. I hope you decide on something that speaks to your heart on how you can give back this season. So many people are in need of some love and kindness. Are you the one that will provide that to them? Someone out there is hoping so. 🙂

Bonus:

Lending your heart to those less fortunate is proven to combat depression and increase happiness. Woah! You really can’t lose!

Let me know how you plan to pay it forward this holiday season.

Your guide to Staying Sane this Holiday Season

Head into the Holidays with a Plan and your Sanity will thank you

Before going bonkers and saying yes to every invitation for Christmas parties, caroling sessions, walk-a-thons, Hanukkah celebrations, play dates, and booking up every nook and cranny of your holiday, take time to decide what you want your holiday season to look like. I know, *gasp* right? Making this season about you (and your immediate family) is so selfish. Not so! If you have a plan in place, it will be easier to graciously turn down the events or activities that don’t fit into it.  Don’t go in blind, people!

Here are some things you should consider when making your ho-ho-holiday “stay sane plan”:

Commit to not Over Committing

You are allowed to say no. Get this–even to family. If you are saying yes to everything and everyone when you really want to say no, resentment will grow, and honestly, you’re not fooling anyone. Get really clear on the difference between desire and obligation. Yes, of course, sometimes we are going to have to do things we really don’t want to do, but that should be the exception, not the rule. If your extended family is a stress trigger for you, limit your time with them. Practice saying no and letting go of the guilt surrounding it. If you are saying yes to the events that you genuinely want to be at, the authenticity of that decision will be palpable. Quality over quantity. You will get more out of this holiday season.

Schedule in Exercise

It’s easy to get so busy during the holidays that we forget to take time to take care of ourselves. Schedule in some time to get outside; take a walk, go for a jog, hit a yoga class, whatever it is you enjoy that gets your muscles activated and your heart beating a little faster. Exercise is shown to reduce your levels of stress hormones AND stimulate your feel good hormones. It’s a win/win.

Take Time for Yourself

If you tend to feel like you’re being pulled in twenty different directions during the holidays, be intentional about pulling yourself out of the chaos. Breath deep. Everything will not fall apart if you excuse yourself to have a nice long soak with a glass of wine. Set a new standard with your family, that everyone, including you, gets to enjoy the season of joy.

Be Conscious About Staying Present

My suggestion is to take a minute at the beginning of your day to set an intention of being in the moment throughout the day. It’s so easy to think ten steps ahead and start stressing out about everything you still need to get done, the grocery shopping, gift shopping, tree decorating, present wrapping, meal preparation. Being in the moment automatically pushes those worries out of your head. Whenever you find yourself freaking out about all that’s left to do, take a breath, look around and give thanks. The holidays aren’t about all the ‘stuff’, they are about family, love, connection, and gratitude. Remember that in moments of stress.

Schedule Gift Shopping

I don’t know about your town, but the mall and anywhere near the mall in Boise during the weeks leading up to Christmas, is an effing NIGHTMARE. Save yourself the anxiety and road rage. Take a morning off of work and go early before the swarms come. Better yet, shop online!

Keep a Bottle of Jameson in Your Purse at All Times

Am I right? Probably not. I just thought this was funny.

Make the Decision to Enjoy Yourself!

Laugh, play games you enjoy, eat the foods you like, hang with people you love. Commit to having a good time! You can do it! You should do it! Happy Holidays!!

Do you have any other stay sane suggestions? Let us know! Please.

 

8 Ways to cultivate joy in your life everyday!

‘Tis the Season Plucky Broads!

I know, I know, the season that awaits is supposed to be rife with joy, gratitude and jolly belly laughter, but let’s be honest. For a lot of people the holidays turn into one mandatory event after another; work parties, family dinners, at least 3 Friendsgivings, secret Santa, shopping (for that perfect gift…or 700 of them), ugly sweater soiree’s, fruitcake cook offs. It’s easy to get caught up in it all until one day you realize you CAN’T wait for the holidays to be over already! What gives? This time of year is meant to be joyful but we often become downright miserable. First world problems, poundsignamirite? Let’s work on changing that this year (and keep it rolling all year), shall we? Here are some easy ways to cultivate that ever elusive joy in the weeks to come.

1) PRACTICE GRATITUDE

Like, everyday. I’m saying ‘practice’ for a reason folks. Gratitude doesn’t always come naturally, especially when your life is looking like the day after you threw a party for four that turned into a party of 90.  Make it a habit anyway. I like to mutter what I’m grateful for while walking to the coffee shop in the morning. Sure, I look like a crazy person, but it starts my day off on the right foot. It’s hard to be pissed about the dishes still in the sink, or worrying about my bank account when I’m focusing on the aspects of my life that I’m truly grateful for. Gratitude allows joy to bloom. It’s the sunshine to a petunia. Do it.

2) BRING GRATITUDE TO THE DINNER TABLE

If it sounds like I’m beating a dead horse, take a hint. Gratitude is key. It changes your perspective. Start a family ritual. Every year at my family Thanksgiving some do-gooder inevitably asks us to go around and say what we’re thankful for. All of us, (except the asker) shift uncomfortably in our seats, and curse the asker under our breaths. My older brother has a terrifically honed ‘sigh of disapproval’ he employs. EVERY YEAR. Why? Because we haven’t made it a practice to share with each other what we are grateful for, and it feels vulnerable, and feeling vulnerable is the worst when you’re about to feel really good, followed by really bad, by stuffing your face full of turkey and stuff. If we made it a daily, or even a weekly, family practice, it would be second nature. Joy cultivation. Boom. Check out my post on developing an attitude for gratitude.

3) GO PLAY!

Is there something you love to do but just ‘don’t have the time’? Make time! You can do it. You need to do it.  Your family will thank you and I’m betting you will thank you. Are you a movie nut? See what movies are playing and go see the one you want to see. Love being out in nature? Go do that! Breath some fresh air, skip, talk to yourself-all the crazy cool people are doing it. Live music your thing? Find some, go see it, DANCE. Yes, exactly, like no one is watching. Haven’t picked your flute up in 20 years? Pick that flute up, girl! Whatever it is, allow yourself some unapologetic playtime. It’s not just for kids.

4) PUT ON YOUR MEDITATION CAP

I’ve been really getting into this one. Dare I say, I love it. I haven’t even had any out of body, woo-woo moments, I just love…stopping. There are some great guided meditations on YouTube, or you can just get yourself all cozy, light a candle and shut down that grey matter of yours for a spell. Okay, it’s not like there is a circuit breaker you can switch, your brain will still be all over the place, but it’s worth it. (And, it’s a practice) I like to think of meditation the same way I think of high intensity interval training. Fitness experts say, if you work out with HIIT your body continues to burn calories more efficiently and for longer than if you were to just get on the treadmill and pound out an hour of running at a steady pace. Same with meditation, the effects continue to spill over long after the meditation is over. It’s a work out for your soul. Joy can’t resist itself when meditation joins the party. They fit together like Kanye and what’s her name.

5) PAY ATTENTION TO THE GOOD THINGS

Stop, put down your phone and look around you. It’s amazing how many people are going through their lives with their eyes glued to a five inch screen (myself included). We are truly missing out on so much. There is so much goodness around us. Take a break. We are obnoxious! Try leaving that little gizmo behind every once in awhile (Eek! Keep breathing, you’ll live.) Instead, use that time to do some quality people watching. I can almost guarantee you will witness some interaction that leaves you smiling. It’s called being present, my good people. I know you’ve heard it before, but it’s why children are such great teachers for us in the pursuit of all things joyful. Presence. Enter joy stage left.

6) SPEND QUALITY TIME WITH A GOOD FRIEND 

We are a species that needs connection. We need it. So, connect. Get together with a good friend and really catch up. Like, send the small talk packing and get real. (note: I’m not saying you need to get thuper therious. Just real) Simple. Elaboration unnecessary me thinks. If you can’t get together because geography has it out for you, make a phone call. I am a sucker for my friendships and joy just bursts through my ears when I connect in meaningful ways with them.

7) FOR CRYING OUT LOUD, GIVE STRESS A REST

I’m just gonna shoot straight with you here, stress is not a good look on you. So send it off to hang out with small talk. Life is too short to be all tied up in stress. You may think it’s like a rope that is coiled around you, making it impossible for you to move, but it’s really just silly string. Wipe it off. Joy is stifled under the intense stare of stress. Oil and vinegar, baby. Take some deep breaths and take one step at a time. And while you’re at, be gracious with yourself.

8) LOOK UP LAUGHTER ON PINTEREST (ALSO…LAUGH)

Seriously. Do this. If this doesn’t bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart then we need to go a lot deeper than just this one blog post. I’m not kidding, this is gold. What’s better than a picture of someone laughing? I’ll tell you. It’s a bunch of pictures of people laughing all in one magical place called Pinterest. Don’t stop there though, figure out a way to get some laughter into your day. What makes you laugh every time? Get yourself some of that. YouTube is a good place for funny videos. Try that if you’re stumped.

BONUS:

ENGAGE IN ACTS OF KINDNESS

Genuinely smile at a stranger. Make an effort to remember someone’s name. Pay someone a compliment. There are literally hundreds of small things you can do everyday. Sprinkle that kindness. It has a way of coming back to you. Like pollen.

Okay! That’s it. The Joy Cultivation Project can now commence. Thank you for reading all the way to the end. Now, go get yo’self some JOY pie!

 

What are ways you cultivate joy in your life? Let me know.

 

6 tips for developing an attitude of gratitude

1) Make a daily habit of listing what you’re grateful for.

If you like to journal, write them down. If not, intentionally pull what you’re thankful for into focus. Smile while you’re listing these things. For me, smiling makes me really feel that gratitude deep in my heart parts.

Coffee, indoor plumbing, clean socks, mattresses, Autumn. I think you’ll find that it is exceedingly easy to come up with things to be grateful for, even if you’re having a bad day. Honestly, there’s no better time to show gratitude than when you are feeling down. It just lifts you up.

2) Let someone know what they mean to you.

We all have people in our lives that we are thankful for. Reach out. Send a card to a friend letting them know what they mean to you when it’s not even their birthday. Can you imagine?  How about an influential teacher of yore? Look them up on Facebook and send them a message letting them know they made a difference.

3) Say please and thank you often.

All too often we become so busy (or self absorbed) we forget to take the one second of time it takes to say, “please” or “thank you”. Take that one second of time, friends. As a human who has worked in the service industry for a LONG time, believe me, it matters. It will also have that handy effect of being mirrored back to you. Be grateful and kind and you will attract gratitude and kindness. The world is a better place when you say those two words. Please. Thank you!

4) Be present.

Be intentional about this, because goshdarnit, it can be hard to do. Instead of pining over what you don’t have, be grateful for what you have right now. Try to incorporate this into a daily habit. You’re not just going to magically become a person that always lives in the moment and that’s okay! What you can do is setup a daily reminder on your phone that says ‘it’s time to be present, (insert your name here). Then do it, right in that moment.

5) Breath in, and then, Breath out.

Aren’t lungs just the best? Deeply breath in that glorious O2 and allow that rhythm to lead the pace of your day. Slow down, smell the roses. Listen to those birds sing, for the love!

6) Connect with yourself.

Meditate, get a manicure, read that book…something just for you. Taking time for yourself is essential. If you don’t, resentment begins to take up all of gratitude’s space. Which, is rude and kinda ugly. You deserve to pamper yourself.

Do you have different ways that you practice gratitude? I would love to hear them! Write a comment below.