gratitude

Yeah, sure we’re all very thankful.  Are we?  When was the last time you were actually, out loud, thankful for something?  We teach our children to say “please” and “thank you” (some people prefer the more succinct “please and thank you”, but its not my fave, and does not ring genuine), but do we teach them to truly BE thankful for what they receive?  Are WE truly thankful for what we receive?

My yoga instructor, the amazing Asia Nelson, challenged me to begin a gratitude journal – write down 5-10 things that I am thankful for…every day.  She promised that I would be amazed at what happens next.

journalShe was right.  When I began to dissect my days and pull out the events that occurred for a positive outcome, I started to notice more and more of them.

There are big moments: a college graduation, a child returning from a trip, a loved one beginning to heal; there are smaller moments: I met a goal, I had a nice chat with my son, a sweet text from a special friend.

I realized that the more I focus on the things to be grateful for, the more I find to be grateful for.  I catch myself leaving a situation and almost subconsciously reviewing and pulling out the gems: the machine I wanted to work on at the gym was free, someone went out of their way to tell me a joke, no one ate the yummy leftovers that I wanted for lunch….Happy

I found that the easiest days to be grateful are the fun days AND the hard days.  The routine days are the ones that offer up the most challenges – but there are reasons to be thankful in EVERY day.  Printers didn’t jam today? Smooth drive into work? Didn’t go hungry? Have a super chatty husband who likes to share his crossfit routine with you every day?  BE THANKFUL!

Here are seem tips for starting your own gratitude journal:

  • Set a routine – I write in mine as soon as i climb into bed.
  • Be thankful for ANYTHING – no rules – people, scenery, words, lessons
  • Elaborate – point form is fine, but the exercise works better if you give a bit of detail
  • Feel the depth of your gratitude…I truly AM thankful for having sweet friends

You can also use prompts if you are feeling stuck:

  • people in your life that you are thankful for (…and why?)
  • your favourite places to go, or dream to go
  • important lessons you’ve learned
  • funniest moments of your life
  • best meals you’ve ever had
  • favourite childhood memories
  • things that made you smile
  • freedoms your country allows you
  • interesting people you’ve met

The list is limitless – its your life, you can be grateful for anything.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it takes a village…

I always admired the idea of an entire village working together for the betterment of raising a decent human being. I assume this still happens around the world, in fact I know that it does – I witnessed it in a Masai village in Kenya. But you don’t often see that here, in urban-ish North America.

I didn’t think we had a village. All along, it has been the hubs and me making all of the decisions, occasionally bouncing things off of friends, teachers, colleagues. One day, my son announced that he would be performing at a high-profile club in Toronto – of course we were going to go, this was so awesome!!! At the last minute, friends of our asked if they would be able to get tickets. We managed to snag some from the performers (it was a SOLD OUT show!) everyone made the 90 minute drive into Toronto. The show was fantastic, our son shone in his performance.
It wasn’t until the drive home that it struck me how amazing it was to have people in our lives who cared about our family, and were celebrating our sons success. It brings me to tears. I have never known this feeling before. We have often gone to see friends kids play baseball or hockey and of course we cheered them on and congratulated them after the game, but never have we ever had someone go out of their way to not only support one of our kids, but to genuinely wish them all the best, being as proud as their own parents. That night, I felt “the village”.

I felt “the village” again a few weeks later, when our family needed one – and if you know what I’m talking about, then you are part of my village. We love you and thank you for being a part of our lives.

When you are grateful for the wonderful people in your life, they just keep appearing.
I am so very grateful.

a single impulsive decision, a lifetime of memories

In 2010 I decided to go to Africa. Just like that…typical.   I can be fairly impulsive – I am a jump first, think later kind of person, committing myself to something that Future Me will have to deal with when the time comes.

A young woman from our church, was leading a group of people to the place that had captured her heart and soul – Kenya. She had been a few times before to work in an orphanage, and was organizing a group to go to a town just outside of Nairobi to help out and gain some perspective. I immediately jumped in. I came home and told my husband  “I think I’d like to go to Africa in September”, gave him a few details and he said “Sounds like a great trip – have fun, we’ll manage here.” Seriously. He is THE MOST supportive guy ever.

The trip was more than I could have ever dreamed it would be – it was physically and mentally draining, and it was incredibly rewarding – and we had SO MUCH FUN.

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Snack time in the Ngong slum

I bring this up because my son, who is 20, will be traveling to Africa in a few weeks, with an amazing organization, to dig wells, or build walls – not sure which, and as we are making the final preparations for his trip, my mind goes back to my trip. I can smell the African air – the way the garbage is constantly burning in the slums and carries over the entire town, and the damp smell of the rainforest, and the animal smells on safari. I can feel the dry grass crackling under my feet, and I can hear the noise (lots of noise) of the markets, or of the monkeys in the trees, and the sweet, sweet sound of the children singing.

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Playing games

I remember the taste of the chapati and the garlic french fries that we ordered from our hotel restaurant almost daily, because it was the safest (and most familiar) thing to choose. I also remember the taste of the cold Tusker beer that was so welcomed after a long hot day, and the birthday cake we gladly enjoyed, after singing and dancing around the table in celebration of one of the local women – a woman who was working to finish university to become a doctor. Our gift to her was her first ever brand new pair of shoes to wear on graduation day.

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We were invited to join the graduation party.

I have many incredible memories from that trip, including using THE WORST public restroom I hope to ever, ever see (or not see – that is another story for another time)…and sitting around a campfire sharing stories and songs with a Masaii family (spoiler alert: Oh Canada does not inspire that Masaii jumping dance that they are famous for).

I will share them periodically, but for now, I am beyond thrilled and oh, so very proud, that my son will get to have similar experiences and provide support in a community that could use some help.  xoxo

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Campfire in the Masaii Mara – guitars, songs and stories

 

 

You will be terrible….

Gah!  Not exactly inspiring is it?  I borrowed the idea for this title from another article I read….well, okay I briefly glanced at it, out of a morbid concern about the message.  Turns out, it was a positive/negative spin on motivation.  I am a firm believer in positive reinforcement and positive encouragement – but I really like this message.

The idea behind the post is to just do it.  You are not going to be amazing right off the bat – and that is a pretty important message for us and our kids to have.

We live in an era of immediate gratification, fast food, netflix, credit etc – are all ways that we can get what we want immediately without having to wait.  As parents, I think it’s even harder to teach hard work and effort, success and failure when our kids are being lured by the satisfaction of having whatever they want now, than it was years ago, when we had to wait for a movie to be released, and if you missed it, you wouldn’t get another chance to see it….ever.  (Until years later when they were released on those giant discs, and you had to go to the store to rent a disc player….)

That sense of immediate gratification gravitates also towards our kids achievements.  No one gets left out, every kid gets a medal.

It is important for people to understand that not everything they do is going to medal worthy – maybe’participant medal’ worthy, but not amazing, inspiring or transformative…but it IS important to START – and to persevere.

Read the original message here:http://www.cammipham.com/will-always-suck/

 

The Fun Book Club – is there such a thing?

Have you ever been in a book club? A really good book club? I hope so.  Studies show that socializing is beneficial to your health, it’s really another component of wellness. Take a peek at this article:

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/social-activities-such-as-book-clubs-just-as-important-as-fitness-to-help-you-live-longer-says-study-a6875596.html

Whether you’re an avid reader of the latest best sellers or you prefer the movie version, you can have a lot of fun with a book club.  I am so fortunate to be involved with a group of creative, enthusiastic, fantastic women who make up our Fun Book Club. (It’s actually called The Fun Book Club!)

Each member takes a turn hosting the meeting – but really there’s no pressure if hosting’s not your thing – we all love a night out, so a restaurant is a perfectly reasonable choice. So is a cooking class, a trip to the theatre, volunteering – we are really a social club disguised as a book club 😉 Actually doing those things that I only read about on other blogs!

The host chooses the book for her meeting (sometimes it comes down to a vote). Some great picks so far for us –  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel, yearofyes-motherlode-tmagArticleFuriously Happy by Jenny Lawson, Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes.

She then takes over controls of the club for the month i.e. sends out reminder emails and….uhhh…that’s about all there is to running the book club.

The meeting has to have a fun component to it. That was
a loose rule butthe most important rule, and it has been pretty cool to see how it’s played out with each host. Usually she decorates in the books theme, gives us lots of yummy treats … and we’ve fallen into the awesome habit of the take home loot bag – so FUN! (One meeting was made up of food, drink, manis foot bathand pedis!!)

We met at a restaurant for our Christmas meeting, and we invited the husbands to come along.  We didn’t talk about books at all, really just had a fun night out.  We were all kind of giddy and excited anyway, made even more so,when the men decided to reconfigure the seating plan and moved all of the tables into a large square so that we were all facing each other!  It was great because most of the men knew a few of the other men, so it wasn’t awkward at all, and given that these women were handpicked for the club, because of their fabulous personalities, it’s only logical that the husbands would be able to hold their own, and they did.

Oh! Oh! Oh! – The most exciting part of our book club is the SHOPPING PART!! YES – there is shopping involved!!!!

I borrowed this idea from my friend Michèle (thank you so  much Michèle!!) each month,we all put $25 in the pot, and draw for a winner. The winner m
ust use her jackpot to buy somebikini topthing cool for herself and present it at the next meeting. How awesome is that?? I know its got nothing to do with books, and we all realise that we are each paying $25 every month, so we should break even, but using authentic awesome woman logic, we ignore that fact and celebrate each winner every month!Its really awesome to see what each person chooses to treat herself with – one woman bought some bikinis to take with her on her hone2523850043_ae9f7128ee_oymoon, another bought a beautiful christmas figurine to remind her of her book club friends (awwww) and we wee all on the edge of our seats when Shannon pulled out that beautiful blue box with the white ribbon – you know what I’m talking about!

Be careful little eyes what you see…

Negative thoughts are a way of life in North America – and you probably don’t even realize that you do it.
There are even “positive” posts on Facebook and instagram – that are anything but, and they are affecting the way you think about situations, other people, and ultimately yourself.18839989152_9a8a255472_o

I saw an ‘inspiring’ post that read: “Don’t stress over what you can’t control.”

WTF?

How do you feel reading that? I know how I felt – I just realized that there is a shitload of stuff out there that I can’t control… and guess what?  Now I feel out of control and stressed about it!

A more positive, truly inspiring message might read something like : Step out confidently and own the day.
or how about this one:
I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.  Actually, I really like this one – say it with me: I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.  I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough.  I am strong, I am beautiful, I am enough!! 

Feel better? I thought so.

Sure those don’t directly address stress, but we already have stress in our lives, we all have things we can’t control. Don’t give it any more power than it already has, by bringing it into your moment.

(I wanted to make a Kanye joke here, but that pretty much goes against what I’m trying to get across…)

Focus on the good stuff, seriously, FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF.
By reframing your words, you will reframe your thoughts…and it feels sooo good!

You are awesome.

I was at a conference recently and we were challenged to come up with our personal mission statement. Actually we were encouraged to go up to the microphone and proclaim our mission, and what we would do if money were no object. (Guess which one is easier to answer…)

So, after thinking long and hard about yachts and cottages and Fiji, it was time to come up with my own inspired mission.  I knew that to truly honour the exercise, and myself,  my mission would have to be rooted in something that comes naturally, my ‘gift’ as it were. So I came up with this.

My mission is to help you become a better person.

Wait.

Scratch that – you’re already awesome.

My mission is to help you see that you ARE a better person than you think you are, that more things are possible than you can imagine, that good things can happen to everyone – ESPECIALLY YOU, whether you think you deserve it or you don’t (spoiler alert – you do deserve it)!

I want to UPLIFT as many people as i possibly can.

There, thats more like it.

you can do amazing things

 

….more to come….