Tag Archives: Christmas

Embrace Joy

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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.

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Source: etsy.com

 

Holiday Reflections

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And just like that, the holiday season is over! I’m sure we have all had some time to reflect over 2014 and dream about 2015 and beyond (or if not, I hope this post helps us begin the reflection process). I had a wonderful two weeks celebrating Christmas and New Year’s with family and friends. Below I am sharing inspirNational insights from my holiday celebrations that I would like to remember throughout the new year:

  • Discuss and share your new year’s resolutions with your family and friends. For the first time ever, I spent time reflecting and planning for 2015 with friends and actually wrote down my resolutions. I also divided my resolutions into categories (career, health, and relationships) to help me stay organized. By sharing them with my peers, I feel more accountable and having goals will help me turn my vision into reality.
  • Simplify your life. Think about what matters to you most and focus your energy in those areas. Avoid distractions and prioritize your daily tasks and expectations to help reduce stress and promote a positive lifestyle. I drank a Trader Joe’s beer called “Simpler Times” over the weekend, and the great name reminded me of the importance of simplicity in life. Throughout 2015 I hope to simplify my life by staying organized, decluttering, and prioritizing the activities and relationships that bring me the most joy and fulfillment.
  • Be grateful and share your gratitude with those closest to you. As we all know, life can change with the blink of an eye, so it is important to appreciate the things and experiences we have. This reminds me of a powerful quote – “You don’t know what you have until it’s gone.” – so we should be grateful for all that we have today. It is also important to express gratitude, whether that means saying “I love you” often, spending time with our loved ones, or giving gifts.
  • Maintain holiday cheer throughout the year. December holiday decorations help us feel spirited and festive, but when January rolls around and we take them down, we often lose the holiday cheer. If we think about it, though, the premise of the holiday season is to spend time with the ones we love, reflect on the year, and indulge in our favorite treats. We can maintain this holiday cheer by continuing to plan family and friend get togethers and continuing to decorate. I plan to have winter themed decorations until the next big holiday in order to avoid the winter blues and keep the holiday cheer alive.
Source: Flickr

Source: Flickr

I hope these holiday reflections inspire us to begin the new year in a positive light. Happy 2015!

The Giving Season, Including Yourself!

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Is it just me or is Christmas approaching way more quickly than most years? The Christmas season is one of my favorite times of the year, with holiday brunches, gift exchanges, community festivals, shopping, wrapping, baking, and enjoying time with family and friends. While I have enjoyed all the hype before Christmas, it has taken a lot of preparation and I’m sure I’m not alone in that I almost want a “holiday” from the holidays.

With the theme of the giving season, it is so easy to get wrapped up in everything and everyone else, and lose sight of ourselves (including our health and overall wellbeing). Martha Beck, an American sociologist, life coach, best-selling author, and speaker, wrote an inspiring article in this month’s Oprah Magazine about treating ourselves during the holidays. She reminds us of the gifts we all want, and to not forget about ourselves during the hustle and bustle of the season.

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What gifts should we ask for ourselves during the holidays? Martha Beck discusses the following:

1. Time. She reminds us to make time for ourselves, whether that is through meditation, relaxing, or simply resting. We can also save time (and therefore have more time for the things that truly matter) by avoiding mindlessly surfing the Internet or watching television. I have made this a personal goal over the past few months, making sure to give myself at least one night of “me” time per week, making sure that I reflect, rest, and rejuvenate after the constant stimulation involved in working and socializing.

2. Stuffless-ness. She discusses how we don’t always have to ask for tangible gifts. We can give ourselves (or ask for) experiences and time with family and friends. This was a theme in my holiday shopping this year – for example, I gave my brother and sister-in-law a “date afternoon” out in Philadelphia for a holiday tour. She also describes how traveling reminds us of the limited items we actually need to live our daily lives – and anything extra just adds clutter, literally and figuratively, into our lives.

3. Acceptance. She inspires us to accept ourselves and our life circumstances with gratitude. She also discusses forgiveness and permission as common topics people want for themselves. By letting go of what no longer serves us, we lift weight off our shoulders, which enables us to move forward and grow into bigger and better people.

In addition to Martha Beck’s thoughts, I’d like to add a fourth gift that I think we should give to ourselves:

4. Inspiration. It’s a big world out there with people full of wisdom and experiences to share with us. We can be inspired by their words and actions if we are willing to open our eyes, ears, and minds to learn from and get to know them. As I have mentioned before, I am constantly inspired by other people and have quoted that I am inspired to inspire others, as they have inspired me. Whether we are traveling or in our hometown, we can be inspirNational in our everyday lives.

Enjoy the last couple weeks of the Christmas season, and as you’re giving gifts to others, remember to treat yourself as well!