Tag Archives: reflection

How to Make Your Vacation Last Longer

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With spring break recently past for many of us, it is easy to experience the post vacation blues. We may stop and think, “I wish I could go back” or “why can’t vacation last longer?” During my spring break, I spent a week visiting family in Detroit and Northern Michigan and concluded¬†the break with a trip to Savannah with my boyfriend. It was the perfect combination of a family vacation and romantic getaway. 12 days later, and it felt like the trips were like a blink of an eye. Back to reality, back to school, and no more trips until graduation. Fortunately, though, a walking tour of Savannah inspired me to make my vacation continue. While outside the Mercer House, I learned about the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, which made Savannah famous. I decided I would purchase the book when I returned home to see how Savannah became a popular tourist destination.

Flash forward and I am now a quarter of the way through the book. I am so glad that I purchased it, not only because it has an interesting story line, but also because it helps me relive the memories from my trip to Savannah. I realized that it is possible to make our vacations last longer! Below are a few tips I have to make you feel like you are still on vacation:

  • Buy books, both fiction and non-fiction, about your travel destination! As I mentioned with Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, it is so fun to relive the memories of your vacation through books. After visiting a place, you feel much more engaged by reading a book about it because you have more context about the story setting. You can easily imagine where the plot is taking place and perhaps learn more about the destination’s history and charm.
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Source: Pixabay

  • Give yourself time to reflect. Don’t over-plan your schedule when you return from vacation. You will need time to readjust to working again and to living your daily routine. With more free time when you return, you will be able to process your travel experiences and help them be properly minted in your memory. You may choose to write a travel diary or blog, to call friends to share your travel stories, or to create digital photo albums. I often jump to my next task when I return from vacation, which delays my personal reflection process. I have been actively working to not over-plan so that I can spend more time reflecting and reliving the exciting travel memories.
  • Contribute to travel forums such as Trip Advisor or Yelp, giving feedback based on your experience at hotels, restaurants, and on excursions. You will engage in dialogue about your travel destination and will be able to share your favorite stories. You may notice comments and questions long after you make your original post, which helps you relive your vacation each time. I have had this experience based on my Trip Advisor review of a Costa Rica horseback riding adventure. Three years later, I am still receiving messages about the number of “likes” or “comments” on my post. It is so fun to be able to talk about Costa Rica again and again!

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  • Make a photo book through Shutterfly or Apple. It is easy to post photos on social media, but there’s nothing like a photo book that combines digital convenience with old fashioned memories in an actual book. A photo book provides a tangible memory of your vacation and you can easily place it on your coffee table for guests to read. Every time you have guests over, they can look through the photo book with you, and you will be reminded of your trip and feel like you are on vacation again.

What other tips do you have that help you make your vacation last longer? As we all return from spring break vacations and are going on the home stretch of spring before the start of summer vacations, may we relive the memories of our great vacations past. And make yourself a promise…. ūüėČ

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Source: Rachel Wilkerson

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

  • ‚ÄúTry 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.‚ÄĚ
    • 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!
  • ‚ÄúForgive someone who doesn‚Äôt deserve it (maybe even yourself). Study a book on forgiveness, such as The Forgiveness Book by Alice Camille and Rev. Paul Boudreau.‚ÄĚ
    • 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.
  • ‚ÄúGive 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.‚ÄĚ
    • Or donate to a charity of choice! We can save so much money by not buying a daily latte ‚Äď 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.
  • ‚ÄúCultivate 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.‚ÄĚ
    • 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.
  • ‚ÄúStrengthen your faith.‚ÄĚ
    • 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‚Äôs adversities.
  • ‚ÄúVolunteer one hour or more each week with a local shelter, tutoring program, nursing home, prison, etc.‚ÄĚ
    • 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!

What I Will Miss About Studying in France

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With a blink of an eye, almost four months have passed and I am now at Charles de Gaulle on my way back home. My winter and early spring in France have been some of the most exciting, challenging, and thought-provoking times of my life, and I could not be more grateful to have studied abroad here.

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Every time I go abroad I enjoy reflecting on what I will miss and not miss about the country I have experienced. Below I have captured some of the highlights:

What I will miss about studying in France:

  • Connections¬†to¬†new cultures. By learning French, I am now able to speak the language of 72 million people throughout the world, helping me connect personally with those who speak French. I have found that one of the most rewarding parts of life is connecting with others, and language is the first step in the connection process. My spirits were lifted when I was able to speak French and be understood by others, especially when I started to think in French about a month ago. I am grateful to now be able say more than “bonjour” and “merci” when I travel or work in France, Africa, Canada, the Middle East, and other Francophone regions. As a French student in Paris, it is interesting to think that I actually ended up meeting more¬†foreigners than French people, since the foreigners were in classes with me also learning French. My classmates were from every continent except Antarctica, and often times our¬†only language in common was the one we were learning. Not only did we learn¬†French together, we discussed the differences between our countries and our cultures, related to all facets of life (food, family, history, law, politics, etc.). I was able to connect with so many unique people and develop a better understanding not only of the Francophone world, but of the world of all of my classmates. In many ways I felt like I was in the United ¬†Nations. I truly think that if we all have the opportunity to learn a language or take any class with peers who are different from us, we will develop a better understanding and stronger appreciation for diversity.
  • Freedom to explore.¬†A student by morning, I had the afternoons free to “go wherever the wind blows” as I like to say. Each week I visited a variety of tourist sites, balancing being a tourist with the fact that I needed to rest, stay in touch with loved ones, plan travel, complete administration work for my university, and prepare for my summer internship. It was so refreshing to have some time all to myself with no boundaries except the ones I created. I took advantage of my free time and learned about centuries of history with disciplines spanning from art, to food, to history, to cuisine, to sports, and more. I think it is important for all of us to take a break from our normal regimented routines in order to expand our minds and allow creativity to come to us.
  • Attention to detail. Each French person¬†has/her own specialty and he/she does it well. The boucherie offers excellent meats, the fromagerie offers world-renown cheeses, the vignoble offers wines that make your taste buds smile, and the boulangerie offers breads and pastries better than you would ever imagine. The architect builds some of the most intriguing buildings in the world and the fashion designer creates styles never seen before that change the world of fashion. I will really miss eating gourmet cheese and drinking gourmet wine as part of my regular routine. The ¬†exquisite attention to detail is unlike any other country I have visited before, and inspires me to have my own specialty.
  • Work-life balance.¬†I have observed that the French prioritize¬†life outside of work just as much as work. The strict labor laws in France dictating a maximum of 35 working hours per week encourages the French to spend time with their families and friends, develop new hobbies, and focus on their health and fitness. While our careers¬†are one of the most rewarding parts of our lives, we have to remember that our lives outside of work can also be enriching.¬†This lesson strongly resonated with me when I first studied abroad in Spain and changed my mindset about how I want to organize my life. My experience only helps that lesson grow stronger as I advance in my career and grow older.
  • Ease of travel. With the small size of countries and access to public transportation, you can be in four different countries with four completely different languages in one day. I took advantage of this while in Paris and traveled to Bordeaux, Normandy, Brittany, Strasbourg, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Portugal during the weeekends.

What I will not miss about studying in France:

  • Poor customer service.¬†This was by far my strongest pet peeve, as I often felt mistreated in restaurants and¬†stores. I realize that expectations for customer service vary by country, especially from the United States where tips encourage excellent service. I wish that there was an international code for customer service, ensuring that whether a person is given a tip or not, he/she will treat customers with respect and a friendly attitude.
  • Overgeneralizing about Americans.¬†Almost every day I heard negative comments about Americans. At first, I accepted the comments as many of them were partially true. After a while, though, it became irritating because not all Americans are the same and we have so many positive qualities about us. The United States is fortunate to have one of the best democracies in the world, equal opportunity for all citizens, innovative businesses, one of the best healthcare systems, and the best university education system. I often wondered, if the people who criticized Americans hate us so much, why are they using an iPhone, listening to Justin Bieber, watching American reality TV, following American politics, wearing Nike shoes, and speaking English? I often felt that people made negative comments to follow the bandwagon of what they have heard in the media. With the current United States political election, I recognize that we are on everyone’s radar throughout the world with the controversies discussed on TV. Rather than fighting back, though, I have chosen to demonstrate the positive qualities of Americans by being an ambassador of sorts. This is food for thought for us as you meet others and represent your citizenship!
  • Overcrowded public transportation. The metro and bus system in Paris are fantastic in principle, but they are often so crowded that it is difficult to breath and get on/off the metro/bus. My commute time to class and tourist sites on the metro was not pleasant, and naturally made me have more of a negative attitude.¬†I learned that the metro system has not been updated recently. With a growing population, it will be necessary to add more public transportation options for Parisians and tourists to ensure the safety and health of the population.
  • Public health issues. While smoking in public has decreased immensely in recent years, I was still amazed by how many youth smoke and throw cigarette butts on the streets in Paris. My exposure to second hand smoke was probably equivalent to a pack of cigarettes, which is dangerous! Besides smoking, hygiene was different than I’m used to even after traveling the world, especially oral hygiene. I have learned that oral hygiene is prioritized more in the United States than in other parts of the world, but I hope it becomes more of an international standard. I have learned from my dad (retired dentist) that oral health is significant to overall health. ¬†Overall hygiene, including oral and body odor, will also help make the crowded public transportation more manageable and pleasant for everyone.

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Combining all of my thoughts, I am so grateful for the personal and professional growth I gained from my experience studying in Paris. As always, the people were what made my experience so memorable, and I am happy that social media will enable us to stay connected. I look forward to continue growing and learning about the world as I travel and work abroad throughout my life.

25 Reflections of my 25 Years on February 25th

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On the 25th day of my birthday month of my 25th year, I wanted to reflect on 25 things I have enjoyed and not enjoyed about¬†the world. This reminds me of the¬†newborn baby¬†posts we often see that describe what babies like and don’t like about the world each month. In some ways, I think it is interesting and helpful for all of us (not just newborns) to reflect on what we like and don’t like throughout our lives. The reflection process will help us do a pulse check on how we feel in the moment and will help us make decisions about the future. Below I have listed 25 things that I like and don’t like about the world. I combined both serious and light-hearted topics. I look forward to reviewing this again next year to see how my interests have changed and¬†how I have grown over time.

25 Things I Like About The World:

Family, Friendship, Love, Travel, Mindfulness, Passion, Literacy, Social Media, Democracy, Running, Yoga, Fresh Air, Nature, Sunshine, Free Time, Winning, A New Outfit, Big Hugs, Naps, Hope, Faith, Trying New Cuisines, A Warm Shower, Certainty, Rewards for Hard Work

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25 Things I Don’t Like About The World:

Losing Loved Ones, Terrorism, Stress, Fatigue, Disrespect, Liars, Bullying, Pessimism, Inequality, Miscommunication, Gray Skies, Rushing, Poverty, Doing Laundry, Anxiety, Uncertainty, Cancer and All Diseases, Food Poisoning, Poor Hygiene, Itchy Sweaters, Laziness, Dirty Homes, When My Socks Fall Off My Feet, Self-Pity, Entitlement

Completing this exercise made me¬†realize how difficult it was for me¬†to find 25 things that I don’t like about the world. I believe this is a good sign, as I have a more optimistic outlook on the world at this point in my life and I hope to continue to be that way. I encourage you to try this¬†exercise to¬†see what you learn about yourself and if there is anything you would like to change about your life or the world!

 

 

 

 

inspirNational Holiday Gift Ideas

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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?

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!