Category Archives: Seasonal

What Can We Learn From An Apple?

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One of my favorite fall time activities is to visit apple orchards, indulging in cider and donuts. Last week, I went on a hunt for an apple orchard since they are less common in the Southeast than in the Midwest. I was lucky to find one of the most beautiful apple orchards I have ever seen in Zirconia, North Carolina – Sky Top Orchard! I was amazed that I had to drive up a mountain to an apple orchard overlooking the Blue Ridge Mountains. Nestled near the rows and rows of apple trees was a barn with farm animals and an incredible bamboo forest! I felt like I was traveling overseas when I saw the bamboo forest.

Walking through the rows of my favorite apple trees, I started to think about apple wisdom I have heard over the years. Some of the quotes you may have heard, and some maybe not. Below I wanted to pass along some great messages we can learn from apples:

Apples are a symbol of patience for us to wait for the “one” to come to us (aka our ideal life partner), and to not settle for anyone less. As a woman, I appreciate this quote: “Women are like apples on trees; the best ones are on the top of the tree. The men don’t want to reach for the good ones because they are afraid of falling and don’t want to get hurt. Instead, they just get the rotten apples from the ground that aren’t so good but easy. So, the apples at the top think something is wrong with them, when in reality they are amazing. They just have to wait for the right man to come along, the one who’s brave enough to climb all the way to the top because they value quality.”

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“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.” Apples are a reminder of how much our parents influence us and how we, as current or future parents, have the opportunity to influence our children. As we reflect upon who we are and who we would like to be, we can consider our circle of influences and what values and traits we would like to pass along.

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Apples help us stay healthy by eating them regularly. There are so many ways to enjoy apples and get the nutrients we needed…whether we bake an apple crisp or pie, drink apple cider, or simply eat an apple off of a tree. I took this advice as an excuse to cook apple crisp last weekend…which has been one of my annual traditions (originally with my mom!) since I was born. I know some of you are thinking brown sugar and oats in apple crisp don’t have the same health magic as apples…but they are worth every calorie :).

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“Just because you find one bad apple doesn’t mean you should give up on the whole tree.” This quote is a new one for me, and I find it to be really insightful. We can interpret this in many ways. I am thinking about the people I meet personally and professionally…even if we meet one “bad apple,” we should not lose faith or hope about where we are, what we are doing, or where we are going. Everything happens for a reason, and everyone we meet comes into our lives for a reason.

What other apple wisdom have you heard? Share a bite with the inspirNational community! Happy Fall, Y’all 🙂

 

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Transition to Spring: Lenten Inspiration

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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!

I Am Grateful For…

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With a little over two weeks until Thanksgiving, I am reminded about the importance of gratitude. I have decided to start the month by thinking about what I am grateful for every day. When I think about one new thing that I am grateful for every day, I am reminded about how lucky I am and I feel a boost of optimism in my daily life. I have expanded this reflection into a daily discussion with my boyfriend, which has been very enjoyable to reflect and think about everything that we love about each other. While many of our thoughts are personal, the effects have been so powerful, and I wanted to share the experience with you!

Source: thechineseconquest.com

Source: thechineseconquest.com

This post is an invitation to say “I am grateful for…” every day until Thanksgiving. And better yet, it is a challenge to think this way throughout the year. Where to start? Think about your health, your family, your friends, your job, your daily conveniences, your hobbies, your guilty pleasures…and you will easily create a list. Try discussing what you are grateful for with your loved ones. You will be amazed by the joy, healing, and memories you will experience!

For more inspiration, check out my previous post, Attitude of Gratitude!

What Makes the Fall Season So Special in the United States?

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Meeting people from around the world, I have noticed that they are often surprised by how much Americans love the fall season. To many people (at least in the northern hemisphere), fall means the end of summer and the beginning of winter. In the United States, fall is arguably the best season of the year. Why?

1. Throughout the fall season, tree leaves change colors for some of the most beautiful natural views of the year. Along with the brightly colored trees, the air is crisp and sweet, making it very inviting for you to go outside and explore.

Source: Picstar

Source: Picstar

2. Fall flavors are warm and comforting. In the United States, you will find pumpkin-flavored everything. Pumpkin pie is typically a family favorite, but you will find pumpkin-flavored coffee, pastries, and more! Apple flavor is also popular. The flavors of Thanksgiving are some of the most memorable, including turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and sweet potatoes.

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

Source: bpkwesthartford.com

3. Fall activities bring your family and friends together. Apple picking is a great way to get outside with your loved ones and pick apples that you can eat right off the tree or use in recipes, such as apple crisp or apple pie. Common in the Midwest and Northeastern United States is visiting cider mills, which serve fresh apple cider, homemade donuts and pastries. They also often have farm animals and outdoor activities for you to enjoy while eating your treats. Carving pumpkins is another fall favorite, as you can make a jack-o-lantern to decorate your porch and you can bake the pumpkin seeds for a nice snack!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

My favorite cider mill in my hometown, Rochester, Michigan!

4. Halloween (October 31 every year) provides the perfect opportunity to disguise yourself as your favorite character or silly costume that is guaranteed to make your loved ones laugh. Along with wearing costumes, you can eat your favorite candies with little remorse, visit haunted houses, experience hayrides, and go to Halloween parties. Children also have the opportunity to go trick-or-treating, where they visit their neighbors and ask for candy while dressed up in adorable costumes.

One of my favorite personal pumpkin carvings!

One of my favorite Halloween pumpkin carvings!

5. American football, played in the fall, has more spirit than any other sport in the United States. You will see football spirit at all levels, from middle and high school to college to professional football. Americans enjoy tailgating before football games, which involves eating barbeque food, drinking beer, playing games such as cornhole, and cheering for your favorite team. The spirit exists every weekend and has created tremendous rivalries across the United States. I have had an interesting experience with football having moved throughout the Midwest and now to the Southern United States – my loyalties have shifted, but I will always root for my alma mater (University of Michigan) first!

University of Michigan Football Stadium - holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

University of Michigan Football Stadium – holds the largest crowd (over 114,000 people) in the United States!

I hope this gives you a taste of all the special qualities of fall in the United States. Just writing about it makes me grateful that fall is here. I would be grateful to hear why fall is (or is not) your favorite season and how it compares to other seasons throughout the world!

Favorite Ways to Spend Spring in Cleveland

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Source: Quotes Everyday

Source: Quotes Everyday

Finally, the ice is thawing, the birds are chirping, and the sun is shining in Cleveland. As Midwesterners know, the first weekend of spring is a sigh of relief. But, it doesn’t mean that winter is over. Fingers crossed that we only have one or two more snow storms before the beautiful spring and summer weather comes our way.

As we all start spring cleaning in Cleveland, I wanted to pass along ideas for us to have fun along the way. Also check out cleveland.com’s “365 things to do in Cleveland in 2015” for more spring inspiration!

  • Cleveland International Film Festival – now until the end of March – Travel the world from the movie theater at Tower City. I had the opportunity to attend All Stars and meet the director, cast and crew with my colleagues!
All Stars Director: Lance Kinsey, Cast: Fred Willard and Miriam Flynn, Director of the Cleveland International Film Fest

All Stars Director: Lance Kinsey, Cast: Fred Willard and Miriam Flynn, Director of the Cleveland International Film Fest

  • Ukrainian Museum-Archives Easter Bazaar – now until the end of March – Check out and shop for the famous Pysanky eggs! According to the museum website, “in the Ukrainian Easter tradition, it is customary to create beautiful art our of eggs – called Pysanky – that are known all over the world. You can buy these beautiful and delicate pieces of art as well as other Ukrainian artwork at our annual Easter bazaar.”
  • Big Spring at the Cleveland Botanical Garden – now until the end of April – Missing green and flowers and looking for a whimsical experience? Check out Cleveland’s supersized indoor and outdoor springtime celebration. This year’s display is inspired by Alice in Wonderland, featuring the Ladybug Labyrinth hedge maze, larger-than-life flowers, the Mad Hatter Tea Party and more. I enjoyed the botanical garden in the winter and look forward to exploring it this spring!
Source: Cleveland Botanical Garden

Source: Cleveland Botanical Garden

  • Indians Game – April through September – Clevelanders love their sports, and there is so much positive energy in the air during baseball season! This year’s home opener is against the Detroit Tigers on April 10. My heart strings will be pulled – my traditional favorite team against my new favorite team! Be sure to attend a game this season and explore all the exciting new developments in Downtown Cleveland.
  • Cinco de Mayo Cleveland at Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds, Middleburg Heights – end of May – Celebrate Hispanic cultures at this festival, which highlights Cleveland’s connection to Latin American dances, arts, music and cuisine. There are live performances and a wrestling extravaganza.
  • Cleveland Plays Co-Ed Sports – year round – Missing gym class? I know that growing up, kickball was one of my favorite parts of gym class. I joined a kickball team at Cleveland Plays last spring and had so much fun meeting great people who are now my best friends in Cleveland! I plan to continue as a kickball star (or so I think I am 🙂 this spring.
  • Barbecue at the Cleveland Metroparks – year round, weather permitting – One of my favorite experiences last year was barbecuing at Edgewater Park. After a winter of indoor baking and cooking, there is nothing better than grilling hotdogs and hamburgers with sunset views of Lake Erie to celebrate spring and summer.
Barbecuing at Edgewater Park

Barbecuing at Edgewater Park

  • MIX at the Cleveland Museum of Art – year round – if you haven’t yet attended this event on the first Friday of every month, I highly recommend that you go! Every month you can explore the art museum, see the latest exhibits, watch live performances, and enjoy cocktails and food with friends and fellow Clevelanders.

I hope you all have a wonderful spring! Please let me know if you would like me to add any other fun spring activities in Cleveland.