Tag Archives: inspiration

The Season of Gratitude

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Has anyone else felt that the holidays came at the blink of an eye this year? It was fall, and suddenly it is full-on Christmastime. I hope my American followers enjoyed the Thanksgiving holiday as a time to relax, reflect, and spend time with family and friends. My holiday wasn’t necessarily relaxing, but I am happy that I made the most of spending time with family and friends throughout the week – from Ohio (Cleveland and Columbus) to Michigan (Royal Oak, Rochester, Bloomfield Hills, and Detroit!).

While it has been easy for me to get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the season, from travel planning, to shopping for gifts, to decorating my apartment, I wanted to make sure to spend time reflecting. After all, the holiday season for me is the season of gratitude. I wanted to share a few things that make me feel especially grateful this year and hopefully they will inspire you to think about what you are grateful for as well!

First, I am grateful for creativity. Throughout the fall I have had a huge craving for the arts. If I see or think of something creative, I want to try it! I made candles with my neighbors, which is surprisingly much easier than you would think. You collect old jars you have around the house, melt wax in a pan, pour wax into the jars, and mix in your favorite combination of scents from essential oils or spices (fun fact – turmeric is a great spice to color your candle), and voila – you have a candle! I also painted freestyle with my neighbors in our own version of a “wine and paint” party. This is much more budget friendly and intimate way to paint with your friends – you get to choose the wine, paint at your own pace, and be at the comfort of your own home! I practiced flow painting with family during the Thanksgiving – which was so much fun and also therapeutic. What could be more fun (from an arts perspective) than mixing paint with Elmer’s glue and water, combining colors in a cup, and pouring them onto a canvas in whichever order you would like? You would be amazed how quickly you can look like a professional artist through flow painting! And most recently, I decorated a gingerbread house with my dad so that we could share enjoying the Christmas spirit even though we live far apart. Through all of these experiences, I have found that the arts are one way for me to focus my mind on the present. It helps clear my mind even for a short moment – which frees up space for me to problem solve and reflect in my daily life. It is very rewarding to see the outcome, a tangible and visual example of my work. I look forward to continuing the arts in the new year!

I am grateful for home. I have realized how important it is to have a home – and I don’t mean a physical location. My apartment in Greenville feels like home with all the memories from loved ones, including furniture from my grandma, decorations from my travels, warm candles, and photos of important people in my life. Spending time in Michigan with family feels like home, because my loved ones make it home. Even as my relatives have moved locations, I still feel at home when we are all together. It is the sense of togetherness that makes a place home for me. I can say that my heart feels its best and the most complete when it has a sense of “home.”

I am grateful for flexibility. There is no better feeling than when I have options and I don’t feel “stuck” – whether that means in my life decisions, my daily schedule, or my travels. Flexibility and free time are incredibly liberating and are helping me as I plan for the future. I feel lucky that my job allows me to have work-life balance – to flexibly schedule my commitments at work and at home. I just started the book, “The Power of Now,” and through that I am already realizing that time is imaginary and we should never feel stuck in a situation. Everything can be much more flexible if we separate ourselves from time pressures and worries and focus on the present and what we truly want. I have a feeling I will write a post about “The Power of Now” based on how much it has inspired me in just the first 50 pages of the book.

I am grateful for friendship. As I have moved every year since officially being an adult, and often multiple times per year, I could not be more grateful for the friendships I have made along the way. New and old friends along the way have helped me explore new places, laughed with me on the good days, cried with me on the bad days, and reflected on life. Together we have shared experiences that have helped me grow and prepare for the next phase. I can honestly say I don’t know where I would be without them – thank you to everyone who has been a friend along the way – can’t wait for more adventures together!

What are you grateful for? I hope these reflections help all of us remember to pause and think about the season of gratitude. May the holidays bring you much happiness, joy, and peace this year!

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Symbols of My Grandma

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October 13, 2017 will forever be a date that I remember. It was the day that I learned that my grandma, Nene, passed away. I was broken hearted because I had gone through so many life milestones with Nene and I couldn’t imagine her no longer being in my life. I had the opportunity to write her eulogy, along with my mom, and share stories about Nene’s life from a granddaughter’s perspective. I wanted to pass along my words about Nene to you as she was a person that I, and many of us, can aspire to be.

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“I have spent time reflecting on what Nene has meant to me. I wanted to share a few symbols of Nene with you that will always remind me of her.

First, the rosary. Nene was one of the most faithful people I knew and was also an inspiring model of church principles, treating everyone with love and compassion. I am blessed to have a grandma who guided me in my own faith, encouraging me as she was my sponsor for my confirmation in the church. She answered my questions along the way and was the best sponsor I could ask for.

Second, a deck of cards: Nene always knew how to have a good time and was the best friend to those around her. She played cards regularly with her friends, often going out to lunch or planning get togethers. I was blessed to join her in some of those get togethers as a little girl, where she taught me Pinochle, Old Maid, and War. She was so caring that when I would cry about the prospect of losing a game, she would make sure I won by the end. I can say with confidence that not many people would do that for others, and that’s just how caring she was.

Third, French anything, starting with French toast and more recently with the French language: Nene made the best French toast I’ve ever had, and I remember vividly eating it at Nene’s black kitchen table, sitting between Nene and Papa Ed, when they would babysit me on weekends. To me, French also symbolizes exquisite taste, which Nene definitely had. She always dressed stylishly and classically like the French. And most recently, while I spent time in Paris and FaceTimed with Nene, she could understand my host mom speaking French in the distance and would respond with “oui oui.” I hope to continue to embrace the French culture that Nene demonstrated to me for the rest of my life.

Fourth, candy: Nene was infamous for her candy cupboard, which was like the holy grail for our family growing up. When all of us would visit Nene, from Sprucewood in Farmington Hills, MI and even in the nursing home, we knew we could find candy. Nene always made sure her guests felt welcomed with treats, and the candy again reinforced how sweet and generous Nene was. She has inspired me to always have treats at home for when guests visit me as well.

Last but not least, chardonnay or vodka, depending on the occasion: Every day was a celebration with Nene. Every time I got together with Nene, we would toast to something, whether I was having apple juice as a little girl, or a glass of Chardonnay as an adult. It always felt like a special occasion. I’ll never forget having my first shot with Nene when I turned 21, or when I made vodka gummy bears for Nene to share our love for vodka and gummy bears. Nene was the perfect example of living life to the fullest and enjoying each day. She was always ready to toast with a glass of Chardonnay or vodka!

As the days pass and we come across these symbols and others, may we be reminded of Nene and the strong faith, love, care, and joy she shared with us. Nene – I know you are already having a great time in heaven and I can’t wait to share a glass of Chardonnay with you there in the future!”

I hope that these words inspire you in the same way that Nene inspired me!

Reflections from Nashville

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Phew! What feels like gust of wind, and my first three months of my post-MBA career have gone by. It all started with a move to Greenville in July, and has since included two trips to Michigan, visits to Charlotte and Columbia, a month spent in Nashville for field sales training, a quick weekend in Chicago, and now back to Greenville. I have been “on the move” throughout, living out of a suitcase, and tonight is one of the first times I have been able to sit and share some of my most recent stories. I am not exaggerating when I say that I have not sat down for more than 5 minutes to relax (besides sleeping at night) in over a month. That phase is now over though, and I am back to “normal” life.

As the hectic few months came to a close last week, I decided to capture some reflections during my flight from Nashville to Greenville…

Living in Nashville as part of my sales training was one of the biggest blessings for me. On the weekends, I spent some time exploring and learning about the culture, which helped me reflect on the lessons I have learned over the past few months.

My first lesson from Nashville is the power of resilience. I have never realized how resilient I am or can be until facing the past few months of struggles…from a shooting of a colleague in my apartment complex, to family health issues, to going through a new challenging work training, to ending a long term relationship after I learned that my significant other wasn’t the person I thought he was. With each challenge, I felt extreme stress…lack of sleep and appetite and spontaneous tears. At the same time, I felt myself grow closer to God, praying consistently, and keeping my focus on my long term goals of good health, happiness with friends and loved ones, and positive impact in my career. I have bounced back from each hardship, potentially with a few more wrinkles and dark circles under my eyes, but also a wider smile to express my gratitude on the good days.

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Country Music Hall of Fame

My second lesson after spending time in Nashville is…country music is a powerful healer. After watching live music almost daily at my hotel and on Broadway Street, I felt tempted to get on stage and pour my heart out. I toured the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Ryman Auditorium, both of which told inspiring stories of the musicians from years past, who are no different than you and me, except for their incredible music talent. If you really listen to country music or just music in general, you realize how much you can connect with the artists as they sing about love, hardship, and daily life. I felt so connected to those performing, and at times empowered by their words, particularly about moving on from those who bring us down. One day you may see a country song written by me after all that I have faced lately :).

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Inspiration from the Country Music Hall of Fame

Similar to the country music lesson, I have been reminded how dancing soothes the soul. Nashville has no shortage of places to dance, and I took advantage of many of them. I have never felt so liberated to dance however I want whenever I want. While Nashville is known for bachelorette parties, I was happy to also run into a couple bachelor parties and had a blast. Every kind of dancing you could imagine, from salsa to line dancing to R&B, I was doing it. I have learned in yoga class that our hips carry a lot of our stress, so dancing helps us let go of that negative energy. So if anyone ever critiques your dance moves, just tell him/her that you are relieving stress and there can be no judgement :).

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Inspiration from the Country Music Hall of Fame

And finally…being far away from loved ones has reminded me the importance of a strong support network. I met the best community I could have asked for in my new apartment in Greenville. My friends from high school, college, and grad school have been there every step of the way through phone calls and weekend visits. I couldn’t be more grateful for them and many of you reading this post.

Nashville, and the country music that went along with it, was a strong reminder that I, and all of us, can bounce back from our struggles through the support of family and friends. We are often stronger than we give ourselves credit.

While a few more hours of sleep are in order now that I am back home in Greenville, I feel empowered and eager to start my next chapter. And I can’t wait to share more inspirNational stories along the way. The inspirNational me is back…using travel as an opportunity to reflect, become a better version of myself, and help others do the same.

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.
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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!

inspirNational New Year

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Catching Fireflies has always been one of my favorite Michigan gift stores. I can always find the perfect gifts for friends and family, as each gift has a personal, thoughtful, and creative touch. If you ever have the opportunity to visit Rochester or Berkley, Michigan, I highly recommend that you visit their stores!

On the latest e-mail I received from Catching Fireflies, I read some inspiration that I wanted to pass along to you. The messages have helped me organize my new year’s resolutions for the year.

Inspiration for a lot of my goals in 2017. “Find what brings you joy and go there” -Jan Phillips. This quote inspires me to make more creative lunches (exciting foods bring me joy and if we eat everyday, why not focus on good foods?). It also inspires me to have more fun working out. While visiting my mom in Traverse City over the holidays, I had a lot fun going to yoga sculpt and cardio barre classes that were very uplifting. I am on a mission to find fun workout classes in Columbia and soon in Greenville after I graduate. I am also creating a bucket list of activities I would like to do in Columbia before graduating – I am hoping for a great last semester full of joy!

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Source: Catching Fireflies

Inspiration for writing and reflection. “Everyday, write down the good stuff. Read it back and you will see a wonderful life.” -Anonymous. I am using this to inspire my blog this year. It is so much fun to share my inspirNational stories and lessons learned, and it is especially fun to look back at old posts and see how I have grown over the years. Don’t be afraid to share your voice too – whether privately in a diary or in blog posts!

Inspiration for my relationships with others. “Kindness matters.” -Anonymous. I am inspired this year to not only be kind to the ones that I love, but also to those I have just met. Kindness heals the soul and helps many of us get through life’s challenges – no matter where the kindness stems from. We all have the opportunity to make a difference in the world, simply by being kind.

Inspiration for my outlook. “Some see weeds, others see wishes.” -Anonymous.

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Source: Catching Fireflies

While I am most often an optimistic, I can be challenged to worry about and dwell in problems until they are solved. I am going to take on 2017 with a positive outlook, and when I am tempted to see weeds, I will remember that others may view my situation as wishes. I hope this little message can inspire you too!

What is inspiring you in 2017? I hope the new year makes all of your wishes come true!

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.

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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

 

The Joy of Saying “No”

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Over the past two months, I have been re-adjusting to graduate school, which has been a good test of my prioritization and time management. It has also reminded me of the importance of distinguishing between what I want to do and what I have to do. An exciting new experience for me has been finding the joy in saying “no.” I have been actively working on saying “no” to help myself slow down, not over-commit, and enjoy each moment for what it is rather than worrying about the next moment. I wanted to pass along a few “tricks of the trade” that have helped me say “no” and feel good about it.

  • Set goals that are both professional and personal. Make sure you are balancing your time to incorporate both sets of goals and focus your time on those goals rather than other aspects of life. Regularly check-in on your progress.
  • Structure your schedule by month first, then by week, and then by day. This will help you realize when you may be over-committing at one point of time and will help encourage you to plan for breaks and rejuvenation.
  • Cultivate an attitude of gratitude. Appreciate what you have, rather than worrying about what you don’t have and having FOMO (fear of missing out). A grateful mindset will help you look at your life differently and not feel like you have to keep adding more aspects to your life to feel happy.
  • Spend more time being still and reflecting. This has been a weekly reminder at my yoga class, to be still. I have realized that taking time to pause has helped me reflect and recharge so that I can be fully engaged in work and fun.

I hope that these tips will help you slow down and enjoy each day. How else have you found joy in saying “no”?

Source: Pinterest

Source: Pinterest