Category Archives: Holidays

Transition to Spring: Lenten Inspiration

Standard

With 17 days left until spring (hallelujah!) and 40 days of lent for those who follow the Catholic tradition, March is a time to prepare for positive change in our lives. Writing this from home with family in snowy northern Michigan, spring seems far away, but I am reminded to have faith that spring comes every year. Spring is a metaphor that new beginnings and positive changes are always ahead of us and should keep us motivated in this crazy thing called life.

I recently read an article from St. Peter’s Church in Columbia, South Carolina (originally from www.upperroom.org) that inspired me and how I would like to be during Lent and the upcoming spring. Regardless of our religious or non-religious traditions, we can look at the Lenten season, or the end of winter and the beginning of spring, as a time to soak up a few more days to bundle up indoors, reflect individually and with our loved ones, and make changes before starting the new spring season. Below I am sharing some Lenten inspiration from The Upper Room and adding some of my own thoughts for how we can be inspirNational and make positive changes over the next 40 days.

Ideas You Can Try for Lenten Season

  • “Try an electronic fast. Give up TV, Facebook, texting, tweeting, e-mail and all things electronic for one day every week (or everyday of Lent!). Use the time to read and pray (or reflect for those who are not religious). Learn more about fasts at http://devozine.upperroom.org/articles/unplugging.”
    • I am committing to spend at least one hour each day fully disconnected, setting my phone aside, and appreciating nature. I find that I come up with my greatest ideas and solutions to my challenges when I am disconnected and in nature. Perhaps this will inspire you to do the same!
  • “Forgive someone who doesn’t deserve it (maybe even yourself). Study a book on forgiveness, such as The Forgiveness Book by Alice Camille and Rev. Paul Boudreau.”
    • We should constantly remember to let go of what no longer serves us. Holding grudges only hurts us more and prevents the healing process for us and for those around us. Practicing forgiveness will help us heal and continue to grow as people as the new spring season begins.
  • “Give up soft drinks, fast food, tea or coffee. Give the money you save to help folks in different parts of the world who are in crisis.”
    • Or donate to a charity of choice! We can save so much money by not buying a daily latte – I have found that avoiding extra expenses and making food and drinks at home helps me save so that I can give back in the future. As President of the Moore School of Business MBA Student Association, I am currently raising money for the Special Olympics as part of the Duke Fuqua MBA Games competition in April. Special Olympics is a non-profit organization offering training and competition in 19 Olympic-type sports to 40,000 children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The MBA Games provide an opportunity for MBA programs throughout the United States to compete in field day style games while raising money for the Special Olympics. You can learn more about donating to my Moore Hands team here: https://www.firstgiving.com/team/343067.
  • “Create daily quite time. Spend 10 minutes a day in silence and prayer. See how it can help you add spiritual practice to your daily life beyond Lent.”
    • While prayer is part of my daily life, I also spend time reflecting through yoga, writing this blog, and relaxing in nature. We all have our own ways tospend quiet time and it is important to make it part of our daily routine.
  • “Cultivate a life of gratitude. Write someone a thank you letter each week and be aware of how many people have helped you along the way.”
    • While we may often feel grateful, it is easy to focus on the negative, such as the challenges we face each day or as we prepare for the future. By focusing on gratitude each day, we can feel a glimpse of hope and happiness as we go through challenges. We can also make others feel more appreciated by spending more time thanking them.
  • “Strengthen your faith.”
    • This reminds those of us who are not faith-focused to spend more time determining which form of spirituality heals our souls, helps us grow as people, and helps us contribute most to the world around us. It will make us stronger people and better able to face life’s adversities.
  • “Volunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home, prison, etc.”
    • This inspires me to be more active with volunteering again. As a graduate student with two jobs and school extracurriculars, it is easy to get wrapped in my own routine and forget what brings me the most joy and has the greatest positive impact on the world. I imagine others face a similar challenge. Over the next 40 days, I plan to volunteer for the Special Olympics as part of the Duke MBA Games and will continue to regularly volunteer to help the community.
narnia__winter_to_spring_by_voroindo

Source: themiddlepage.net

How will you make positive changes throughout the Lenten season as you prepare for spring? I hope these insights provide food for thought as you reflect on the winter and transition to spring!

Advertisements

I Love…

Standard

With winter blues and the news destined to make us feel negative, it is a breath of fresh air that we have finally made it to February, the month of love. I am a little biased because it is my birthday month, but I am happy that Valentine’s Day brings us a cheerful holiday to celebrate this winter. With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I wanted to share a post about some things that I love, besides of course my family and friends. Hopefully this will help inspire you to step away from the negativity in the world and reflect upon what you love too.

kiss

Source: Cool HD Wallpaper

I love… good health. It is so easy for me to take this for granted because I am healthy on a normal basis. A recent bout of the flu reminded me how hard it is to be sick and how refreshing it is to finally heal and feel better.

I love… cuddling. It is so simple yet so comforting and always brings a smile to my face. If we all spent a little more time cuddling with our loved ones or furry friends, I really think the world would be a happier place.

I love… sunshine. Especially in the winter when it is rare. Now that I am experiencing my first southern winter, I can tell you that it makes a huge different to see the sun regularly even when it is cold outside. The rays soothe the soul and remind me that spring and summer will come.

download

Source: Pexels

I love… day trips on the weekends. So often I spend the weekends catching up, cleaning, and preparing for the next week, especially when I am at apartment in Columbia, SC. It is SO important for me to take breaks though, and one of the best ways for me to make sure that I take a break is going on a little weekend escape. Fortunately, Columbia is within driving distance of many exciting destinations. A couple weekends ago my boyfriend and I took a weekend trip to Charleston and it was the perfect amount of time away. We spent the day wandering the streets, feeling more like locals now that we have visited there a few times. We had a delicious dinner Coast, a seafood restaurant downtown. We spent the evening on King Street, going to some of the swanky bars and enjoying Jeni’s ice cream (the best part of Columbus, OH ;)). If you need a break – go on a day trip!! It makes a world of a difference on your next week.

I love… music. For those who know me well, it is rare for me to not have something playing, especially when I am at home. I listen to all genres of music and secretly love to sing along. I often say that my life is a playlist, because almost all hit songs from the past 25 years I can pinpoint to a particular life phase or moment in my life. I have also made a new year’s resolution with my boyfriend to practice playing piano again (I played pretty well for over 6 years when I was growing up). We have practiced a couple times and played duets, including songs from the award-winning La La Land movie and other love stories. A little music, whether listening, singing, or playing, goes a long way in brightening my day.

I love… free time. My yoga instructor recently inspired me to spend more time pausing, not scheduling anything, and allowing myself to simply be. Every week I am working on allowing myself free time to let my mind wander, relax, and do whatever brings me joy at that specific time. The free time helps spark creativity and refreshes me when I go back to my daily routine.

All of these things bring me warmth this winter and brighten my days when they seem gloomy. I hope that Valentine’s Day inspires you to focus on what you love about the world too. Whether it is your family, friends, home, job, new outfit or that leftover piece of chocolate cake in the fridge – we all have something to love in life!

Home for the Holidays

Standard

Happy Holidays to all of my inspirNational followers! I hope that you have enjoyed a festive month this December. With only a couple days left of 2016, I am reflecting on what it has meant to me to be home for the holidays. Over the past month, I have completed my second to last semester of graduate school and have made the long road trip from South Carolina to Michigan, spending time in various cities in between to get together with friends and family. I have been fully engaged in spending time with loved ones, which has been wonderful for me to disconnect a bit from the real world and to reconnect with friends and family who I have not seen in almost a year.

home-holidays-5x7-tatertotsandjello-com_1

Traveling throughout 2016 has reminded me of the importance of home. I have absolutely loved living abroad and exploring, but it is even more rewarding when I can go back home to share memories with my loved ones. Home is what helps me relax, reflect, and rejuvenate to learn and grow from my past experiences and prepare for my next adventures. Traveling has also taught me that home is not a place, but the feeling I have when I am with family and friends. This has explained why I have often felt at home, even when I have lived and traveled throughout the world, especially this year. With the feeling of home, then, all of us can experience home at several points in our lives as we move and go to new places. I have found that I feel most at home when I am with my mom and dad since I have known them my entire life, followed by other family members and lifelong friends. As my family, friends, and I have moved and traveled to new places and have had different experiences, we always go back to the “old days” or “how it always was” when we get together. It is such a comforting feeling especially with all the changes we face in our daily lives. My feeling of home as a connection to people has taught me that the people in my life are what matter most to me. I couldn’t be more grateful for my family, friends, and inspirNational followers who have helped me feel at home and have learned and grown with me over the years. I hope that whether you have traveled home or not this holiday season, that you have felt at home by reconnecting with your loved ones. May 2017 bring you much happiness, love, and inspirNational adventures!

Embrace Joy

Standard

With the holidays upon us and the end of the year approaching, I wanted to set an intention for this holiday season. Over the past few days, I have had a few experiences that have reminded me to embrace joy. While Thanksgiving last week encouraged me to pause, reflect, and express gratitude next to family and friends, the Christmas season is inspiring me to embrace joy.

embrace-joy

Source: The Dill Loop

On Monday, I had dinner with my university’s director of corporate and foundation relations, who is like the brand ambassador for joy. She lights up every room she enters, finds connections with those who surround her, and shares joyful stories that express her love and hope for the world. With the life experience that she has, it could be easy to be cynical and pessimistic, but she has reminded me that a joyful attitude can surpass any life circumstance at any age. She has become one of my role models and mentors who I aspire to be like now and into the future.

Last night, I attended my favorite hot yoga class in Columbia, SC, and my yoga instructor encouraged me and the other yogis to find joy in our daily lives. She reminded us that the first step in finding joy is letting go of what doesn’t serve us or what brings us down, and then to be grateful for everything we have. She invited us to set an intention for a yoga practice, which inspired me to set an intention not only for the class, but also for the coming weeks. My intention is to embrace joy. Thinking about the past few decades of Christmases, I have found that this season reminds me each year that magic exists. I think back to my childhood days of making a Christmas list for Santa Claus, singing Christmas carols at school, decorating Christmas cookies, and spending the holidays with loved ones. While many of the traditions have changed, the feeling of magic and joy still remains. So far, I have embraced joy by decorating my apartment for Christmas to help brighten the gloom of taking final exams over the next couple weeks. I look forward to attending a Cookies and Kegs party this weekend for a study break with my classmates. I am trying to find little ways to embrace joy each day to help me get through the daily grind of the student lifestyle before my holiday break begins.

As we all face our daily routines over the next few weeks, I hope that we can make an effort to embrace joy and let the holiday season be as magical as it was when we were children. Regardless of whether we celebrate any of the December holidays, the festivals and decorations can remind us to take the time to find joy in the world around us.

download

Source: etsy.com

 

Valentines To Remember

Standard

Happy Valentine’s Day, inspirNational!

DSC04610-350x203

Source: discoverexplorelearn.com

I hope that we all take some time today to say “I love you” to those who bring joy to our lives. We often focus on our significant others (if we have them) on this day of love, but there are many valentines in our lives that we should not forget.

  • Ourselves. Remember to send some lovin’ to yourself today! On the day of love, we often think about everyone else but ourselves. We put ourselves through a lot each day, whether we are working or in school, experiencing life’s changes, maintaining our health and happiness, or staying in touch with loved ones. Let’s be grateful to our minds and bodies for carrying us through the journey of life! Take a nap today, pamper yourself, do your favorite hobby, or reward yourself with a treat to remind yourself that you love “you.” After all, if we don’t love ourselves, it is hard for us to give and receive love from others.
  • Our parents. Remind your parents how grateful you are for all that they have taught you and helped you with throughout your life. By living with a host family in a new country, I am constantly reminded how lucky I was to have such supportive parents while I was growing up. My parents taught me how to always do my best, to make smart decisions, to cherish each day, to explore the world, to respect others, to say “thank you,” to save money, to take care of my belongings, to be tidy and organized, and to welcome guests into my home (and have awesome parties :)). Living in a new environment reminds me that my family values do not exist everywhere, which makes me grateful for the expectations my parents had (and continue to have) for me.
  • Our faith. We all find faith through different outlets, but where we can relate is the little voice coming from our soul. That little voice comforts us, keeps us going each day, reminds us that we can get through life’s challenges, and helps us find hope and love in our lives. I have noticed while in Paris that I am drawn to churches and feel overwhelmingly emotional when I enter them, thinking about all of my loved ones and reflecting on my life. While I am not a devout churchgoer, I am grateful for the strong morals, endless hope, and faith in the world that the Catholic church has provided me throughout my life.
  • Our friends. Think about all the people who have helped you celebrate the joys of life, who have wiped the tears from your face, and who have just sat and listened to you share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns about life. I strongly believe that our friends are our chosen family and in many ways deserve the most of our gratitude. Being thousands of miles away from my best friends, I am so grateful that they continue to stay in touch with me while I embark on this international adventure. I am also grateful to the new people I am meeting in France who are willing to start new friendships. It is very rewarding to share travel experiences with new friends!

I hope these thoughts inspire you to be grateful for all the valentines in your life. May you find peace, joy, and love on this special day!

Happy Holidays from inspirNational!

Standard

As we travel near and far throughout the year and especially this holiday season, may we remember that “life brings us to unexpected places, but love brings us home.”image1

Moving to South Carolina and soon to France have both been unexpected for me, but very exciting at the same time! I have started the holidays in Virginia and Ohio, and now will be home in Michigan for the next couple weeks. I look forward to starting the new year Parisienne style! Wishing you, your family and friends a joyful and relaxing holiday season. See you in 2016 with more exciting inspirNational insights from around the world!

inspirNational Holiday Gift Ideas

Standard

How can you show you appreciate your loved ones and friends this holiday season? Here are a few inspirNational ideas:

  • Give the gift of exploration. Plan a trip to explore a new place, near or far, with your loved ones. LivingSocial and GroupOn consistently post great excursions and adventures near you. Hotels often offer holiday packagaes and airBnB provides affordable lodging options throughout the world. Exploring will bring you new insights and memories you will never forget!
  • Give the gift of creativity. Especially if you have been craving arts and crafts, make an art creation for your loved ones. Paint a picture, design a scrapbook (Apple has great digital scrapbooks you can make!), or make a blanket! I enjoyed painting wine glasses-turned-candle holders for my family this year. You can also purchase art class subscriptions, such as wine and painting classes, to encourage your loved ones to be creative as well.
  • 12196080_10153756082319559_3837647999765978955_nGive the gift of homemade cuisine. I have loved the trend of recipes and ingredients sent to your door, making home-cooked meals much easier than ever before! There are also great custom wine deliveries, snack deliveries, and pet food deliveries, that make a “staycation” possible, customizable, and fun!
  • Give the gift of reflection. Purchase yoga or meditation classes to help your loved ones relax and reflect as they enter the new year. There are also reflection books, such as The Five Book, which help you think about your vision for your future that will make you that happiest version of yourself.

What other inspirNational gift ideas do you have?