Tag Archives: inspiration

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!

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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

inspirNational Music: Under One Sky by the Tenors

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Next up on the inspirNational music playlist is Under One Sky by the Tenors. My boyfriend introduced it to me tonight and we have been singing along to the lyrics all night.

The song reminds us that we are all united throughout the world under one sky. The music video captures people from around the world singing the song, “under one sky, our dreams come alive.” It is so powerful to watch and reminds me of my one of my life missions to connect the world. Traveling the world reminds us that we have so much to learn from those who seem different than us. To many people’s surprise, one of the main lessons we can learn from others is how similar we are in our core values, our purpose, our basic needs, and our joys in life.

Watch the video below:

I hope this song leaves you feeling as inspired as it has made me feel. As I begin my last year in my International MBA program, I am excited to embark on my career journey throughout the world, ready to face the opportunities and challenges, and comforted by the fact that we are all under one sky.

Creating Control & Optimism Out of Chaos & Pessimism

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With all of the acts of terrorism, violence, and corrupt politics, I know I can speak for many when I say that I have started to feel hopeless and paralyzed about how to respond to the world. I have spent much time pausing and reflecting on how to best react to and address the events we have recently faced throughout the world. While we can’t control what happens in the world or the cruel acts of others, we should not feel hopeless. There is good in the world, even if it is necessary to dust off the cobwebs. During challenging times, we can remind ourselves that there are aspects of our lives we can control to stay positive.

What can we control?

Our attitude. Seeing the glass half full or half empty is completely in our hands. We can comment on all the negativity around us, or we can encourage ourselves to crawl through the weeds of negativity to find all the things that make us feel warm inside. No matter how terrible the world may feel, there are still aspects that brighten our days, such as sunrise and sunsets, a hug from a loved one, an ice cream sundae, or planning a vacation. As my grandma always told me: “always have something to look forward to” which will help keep your attitude in check.

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Source: blog.mindjet.com

How often we watch the news. Over the past couple of months, I have found myself watching the news more often. While it is important to be an informed citizen, I need to constantly remind myself that the media is providing one perspective of the world, one that needs to tell a story and sell commercials. An interesting point I heard recently is that the world is not necessarily worse than in the past, we just have faster access to information with social media spreading the word instantly at our fingertips. If we think back to the early 20th century when only newspapers and radio were available, people would learn updates much less frequently than we do now. We can watch the news and follow social media, but should control the frequency to not dwell on negative events.

Who we vote for. With the Democratic and Republican National Conventions happening in the United States over the past two weeks, we can’t help but think about the future of the United States. I am taking a holistic approach to voting this election, considering not only special interests related to me, but also to my family, my employer, my  community, the United States as a whole, and the entire world. I have invested more time and energy into this political season than ever before, not only because I am more aware and interested, but also thanks to my law student boyfriend who often challenges my political views and loves to debate with me. With a broad perspective of the impacts of our president, we may change our voting decisions. We should also not only focus on the president, but also the local elections that will have a more prominent effect on our daily lives.

Our daily habits: eat, sleep, and exercise. When life feels out of control, it is easy to eat too much or forget to eat, to not sleep enough, and to forego exercise routines. Out of control circumstances and stress are very taxing on our bodies, meaning that good food, sleep, and exercise are even more critical during stressful times. As my life gets busier and stress increases, I am emphasizing now more than ever that my health needs to come first for my own longevity. Establishing these daily habits in my 20s will be critical as they will likely be the same habits I will have as I move through the older decades of life.

Our hobbies. Spend your free time doing what you love! Or better yet, do what you love as your job. Hobbies bring joy to ourselves, enable us to meet new friends, and spark the same passion and creativity that we experienced at recess in elementary school. No matter how bad our days are, we can always resort to our hobbies to remind us to have a zest for life.

Our kindness to others. One of my favorite quotes is to always be friendly to others because you never know what they are going through. Kindness is especially important in challenging times, as it unites us and reminds of the human spirit that keeps us moving forward. Smile at those you pass on the street, hold the doors for people behind you, treat your friends and loved ones to lunch, and donate to charity. A small token of kindness can go a long with in brightening the world around us.

Our work ethic. Work hard, seek opportunities, achieve goals, and see results. One of the most rewarding feelings for many people, including me, is success in my career. It goes back to Kindergarden when I loved to receive a star sticker on my test or a smile from my teacher. Now I am grateful for recognition for hard work and empowerment to follow my dreams. Careers can provide us with a consistent and clear path, including promotions for jobs well done, which may help us feel stable when other circumstances are unstable.

Our involvement in the community. Giving back to others is one of the best ways to remind ourselves and others that there is good in the world. Volunteering is one of most joyful life experiences, allowing us to contribute to causes related to our passions, and meeting people along the way. I have had wonderful opportunities to volunteer at A Child’s Haven and through United Way in Greenville, SC this summer. I am reminded to always give back to the community I call home to brighten the lives of others and my own life along the way.

I hope these suggestions help remind us to find areas we can control in our lives to ensure we feel optimistic. I’ll conclude with a strong reminder for everyone: Good Will Prevail!

Dare to be Different

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While enjoying bubble tea in Greenville with one of my MBA friends this morning, we discussed our career plans and he paraphrased a Steven Spielberg quote that guides him. He said in order to be successful, we can either aim to be the best or aim to be different. This quote really stuck with me because more often than not, I am focusing on striving to be my personal best, which is a great objective, but I can also take pride in being different. Each of us has our own individual strengths that we can contribute to the world. This is what makes us inspirNational, seeing and offering new perspectives to the world. Rather than directing ourselves to follow the herd and the path others expect us to take, we should dare to be different.

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Throughout the first few weeks of my summer internship, I have learned that being different has allowed me to stand out, meet genuine friends, and try new things. While conforming to our job’s cultural norms or our home’s cultural norms is part of society, we should also stay true to ourselves and contribute our diverse experiences to the community around us.

One little way that I dare to be different is to wear accessories that tell my story. I have received compliments on what I have been wearing, and it has been so fun to tell my peers the unique stories about each of my accessories. For example, I have a pair of black and white newspaper-patterned sandals that I designed as a Christmas gift from my first employer, which I have been able to describe and tell them about the newspaper connection to my interest in writing. I have also worn my butterfly necklace and earrings, which I purchased in the Monteverde cloud forest in Costa Rica, and have been able to tell people about my adventurous trip to Costa Rica and interest in travel, speaking Spanish, and sustainability.

Another way I dare to be different is to try new hobbies that spark my interest. Over the past week, I have gone boating in the Charleston harbor, experienced my second wine and painting class, attended my first barre class, bought my first adult coloring book (finally joining the decade’s trend for adults :), and started my first indoor vegetable garden. Most people succumb to labels and say they are a runner, a foodie, a golfer, a hunter, etc. I have realized that I am not the kind of person to do just one hobby – I am creating my own label as citizen of the world who likes to experience new things and be local wherever I am visiting or living. If that means hiking, I’ll hike. If that means painting, I’ll paint. I know I like to be active, healthy, creative, and social, so as long as the hobby meets one of those objectives, I am willing to try anything with anyone.

I am also working to spend more time alone, allowing myself to reflect and listen to the inner voice that guides my happiness and life direction. Tuning into our inner voice grounds us and encourages to follow our own path, despite what the external noise and societal pressures may tell us. It is also important to make sure the environment where we spend our alone time inspires us and allows us to feel true happiness. I have discovered that my personal happy space can be in any beautiful nature scene, the greener the better, or inside listening to music with no agenda. My goal has been to make sure I give myself time for these personal happy spaces every week, and ideally for at least a short amount of time every day.

Finally I am daring to be different by offering a smile and compliment to everyone I meet. Throughout my life I have been told that I am so positive and cheerful all of the time, which was originally phrased and received as criticism, but I am now changing my mindset. I have realized that there is so much negativity and sarcasm in the world, and it’s about time that we have a few people who stand up for optimism and genuity. I have noticed that all the executives and leaders I have met across organizations have an aura of optimism, confidence, and genuine connections with others. To the “haters” out there, this is food for thought as we determine our career ambitions and role in society. As the common quote says, those who are crazy enough to think that their ideas and dreams are possible (and are optimistic about them) will be the ones who achieve them.

How will you dare to be different?