Friday Flash – Motivation

As you head into the weekend, keep heading toward that goal you have set for yourself. Don’t let slow progress discourage you. Little steps add up for big results! It’s about always moving forward – you can’t achieve a goal without first moving toward it. The thing to remind yourself is to

Friday Flash - Motivation

3 New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Want to Make – and Keep!

3 New Year's Resolutions You'll WANT to Make - AND Keep!

There are two types of New Year’s Resolutions. First, the ones that you are making again (lose weight, eat healthy, exercise, get organized, stop procrastinating, blah, blah, blah) Second, the ever popular I-resolve-NOT-to-make-New-Year’s-Resolutions resolution. Both categories are so tired, they should be permanently retired! We are ready for a new-and-improved New Year’s Resolution category – resolutions we look forward to keeping! Here are three that fit nicely into our new category.

  1. The Jar. This idea has been circulating in various forms for the past couple of years and I expect it will be around for years to come – because the results are so positive. The simple premise is you leave a container in a place that you see often and drop in notes throughout the year to commemorate moments, events, thoughts  – whatever you want. At the end of the year you read your notes. I did it this year for the first time, and my husband and I will read through the notes as part of our stay-at-home New Year’s Eve celebration. Our jar was a simple quart canning jar that I left on the kitchen counter – in spite of the fact that it matched nothing! I put a couple of mini notepads inside as well as a pen so that it was convenient to write our notes. I remember some of the notes I dropped in over the past year – a surprise visit from a dear friend, a stupid joke that had us laughing until our eyes watered, the trio of goats that showed up in our back yard. What I’m really looking forward to is reading over the notes I forgot about – and appreciating the moments all over again! As the months went on we found ourselves talking about “a laugh that will make the jar” and referring to events as a “jar moment.” Writing the notes not only magnify the appreciation of what is good or special in the moment, it records a memory to be enjoyed again later. And all for zero cost and a time investment of occasional minutes!

3 New Year's Resolutions You'll WANT to Make - AND Keep!

2. A year of Christmas Spirit. One of the wonderful things about the holiday season is it seems to soften hearts and promote generosity. Giving and acts of kindness are at an all-time high during the month of December. Soup kitchens are overrun with volunteers wanting to help serve and an abundance of carolers cheer up nursing home residents. Then comes January, and everyone is all niced-out. But the needs of others don’t get put on hold until the next holiday. And our own need to get outside of ourselves and help others (which can put our own problems and challenges in perspective) doesn’t end when the last holiday decoration is boxed up. Calendar in a monthly act of kindness, generosity, or encouragement. Whether it is twelve months of support for a specific charity (rocking babies, sorting books, serving food, . . . ), twelve different selections (sending a note of encouragement to somebody, mowing another’s lawn, putting a potted plant on a neighbor’s porch . . . ) or something in between, it’s all good. Not only do others benefit from your resolution, but studies show that such acts of kindness benefit the doer physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The ultimate win-win!

3 New Year's Resolutions You'll Want to Make - AND Keep

3. Blast back to your past. Commit to a year of lightening up, letting your inner child have a playdate, and go retro. Make a monthly date with yourself (or with a pal) to take a step back in time with something you enjoyed from the past. Whether you  schedule an activity (bowling? swinging at a playground?), watching a movie from “the day” (anybody remember Parent Trap?) or indulging in that blast-from-the-past treat (helloooooo Sander’s Bumpy Cake!!), be intentional about staying young at heart!

3 New Year's Resolutions You'll WANT to Make - AND Keep!

Set yourself up for success and productivity by making a New Year’s resolution (or three!) that you will look forward to keeping!


5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone’s Face

5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone's Face

“Be the reason someone smiles today.” Seeing that slogan pop up on social media regularly attached to lovely pictures and happy faces can fade into visual noise after a while. But it’s a terrific daily goal to set. Being the reason someone smiles benefits you as much – or more – than the recipient of your kindness. Oh, I know you’re not kind to get the physical, emotional, and spiritual lift that studies indicate doing good for others result in, but those are wonderful side effects, don’t you think?

Putting a smile on someone’s face is  as easy as offering a compliment or encouraging word. If you want to add a little creativity to the mix, here are 5 more ways to light up someone’s day:

  1. Give the compliment they can carry with them. Type out compliments on some make-your-own colorful business cards that can be found at office supply stores. Smile-inducing statements like: You have a beatiful smile! and That color looks wonderful on you! and Most fun shoes I’ve seen all day! and You are great at your job! Put a rubber band around your stack, carry them with you, and pass them out generously as “needed” throughout the day!
  2. Give a moment of your time. Next time you get good service at a restaurant, fast food place, hardware store, etc., ask to speak to the manager. They will be pleasantly surprised to be summoned for a positive reason and the employee may get props. A couple of days after letting a Best Buy manager know how an employee went above and beyond to offer assistance on, as we found out after the fact, the employee’s day off, we returned to the store. There in the Best Buy entryway was a framed picture of our awesome helper with a sign that proclaimed him “Employee of the Month.” Quite a payoff for a few minutes of time!
  3. Give the unexpected. Pick up some flowers while you’re grocery shopping – a little bouquet or mini-potted roses from the floral section most stores have now. After you pay for them, hand them to the person behind you in line and tell them to have a nice day. You’ll both end up smiling!
  4. Give them a reminder. Let that person whose company you enjoy, but rarely get to connect with, know you’re thinking of them. Use social media to send a bright picture (maybe of something they collect or a place you visited together?) with your just-because-I’m-thinking-of-you message. Sending a text or leaving a voicemail can be just as effective. Recently I remembered an adventure (okay, more of a misadventure) a friend and I had shared years ago and I called her to tell her how it still cracked me up. I deliberately called at a time I didn’t think she’d answer so that she would get the surprise message. I couldn’t get through the message without laughing as I recounted the memory. Which made her laugh when she received it. Mission accomplished!
  5. Give a blast-from-the-past. Send a hand-written thank you note to someone who has touched your life by some act they wouldn’t expect a thank you for. That wonderful role model, or a person whose wise advice has stayed with you, or someone who inspired you to take action. You know – that person who puts a smile on your face just by thinking of them. It’s your turn the make them smile!

Mary Tyler Moore isn’t the only one “who can turn the world on with her smile”* – we ALL have that power. Let’s go forth and use it well!

5 Ways to Put a Smile on Someone's Face

*If you did not recognize that reference, it may indicate that you aren’t in your fifties – please know that you are still welcome here!

Motivational Monday #24

One of the mottoes that became popular in our generation is “Plan your work and work your plan.” So many of us set a goal and tried to work our plan diligently – only to meet with rejection from a third party who seemed to have the power to thwart that goal. The job that wasn’t offered, the submitted writing that was declined, the invitation refused – such obstacles to attaining a long-term goal can leave us with an overwhelming feeling of frustration or failure. We may be tempted to ignore the obstacles or force a  path through them because we are so intent on working our plan. But sometimes an unforeseen event, a perceived obstacle, can be a significant opportunity. Motivational speaker Steve Maraboli  certainly sees it that way; he said:

Motivational Monday #24

Stop Trying to Save Toads

Stop Trying to Save Toads

I see them flailing from my kitchen window. I know if I don’t help, I’ll find them lifeless in the skimmer later. So I stop what I’m doing and head out to save more toads. One would think I’d be a Toad Hero, right? But no. They actually fight my attempts to save them, diving toward the pool bottom or skittering away across the water surface. They dodge the life-saving shallow net I dip in to carry them to safety.

Each successful save is lifted out of the pool and gently turned out on the grass. Yet I receive no grateful croaks. Some of the toads, without even taking a few minutes to enjoy their new lease on life, head straight back toward the enticing water. They’ve already forgotten their panic-stricken flailing from moments before – they only have eyes for the sparkling surface ahead. You just can’t save a toad that is determined to jump back in the pool.

If you have a toad in your life, one that races back to the water no matter how many times you have scooped it out and laid it in the gentle arms of safety, you have two choices. You can either scoop until your arms finally give out, or you can acknowledge and accept the fact that toads have no heroes.

Albert Einstien probably had toads in mind when he said the following: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. 

Motivational Monday #23

Even if you are in a good place in life, you can’t get complacent. You do not grow without movement – which is bad enough. But, as Will Rogers pointed out, it gets much worse because

Motivational Monday #23

Try It – You’ll Like It

LifeHow many of us can say we took a chance on something and surprised ourselves by liking it?

Whether you were encouraged (is that really the word I’m looking for?) to eat your vegetables or try new ones, or you can remember the ad campaigns “try it – you’ll like it” for Life cereal, you can probably relate to the concept of, every once in awhile, stepping out of your comfort zone and trying – and even enjoying  – a new activity.

Now that my children are older, they often coax me into trying new things, possibly as payback for earlier days. But I think more often than not, it’s because they really want me to like something they like or to keep me ‘growing.’ Because of them I have tried going to movies by myself (LOVE it); tried different beers and mixed drinks (VARYING degrees of success); changed up my wardrobe (WAY uncomfortable); and am learning to let them make their own choices in life (SCARY and at the same time FREEING).

I did once volunteer to do the middle-of-the-night segment for Relay for Life, a fundraising walk for the American Cancer Society. I dreaded the getting up in the middle of the night and walking around for hours. When I actually got to the starting point and began walking, I loved the quiet, the feeling of community among the other middle-of-the-night walkers, and the sunrise that I got to experience first-hand. I bonded with my fellow walkers during our relay and we all went to breakfast together. It was a marvelous experience I would not have had if I had walked at a different (read: preferred) time of day! The middle-of-the-night segment is my absolute first choice now. So, as I contemplated challenging myself to do something else I never thought I would do, I realized I don’t have to take on a high-drama quest like skydiving or embarking on a jungle excursion to expand my horizons. The options for doable ways to get outside my comfort zone and expand my joy factor are limitless.

  • I could travel to a new destination by myself for a replenishing weekend (a little daunting, but definitely doable!)
  • I could train to run a half marathon or obstacle course. After all, isn’t that just moving a little faster and further than what I’ve already done?
  • I could skip grocery shopping for a month and just live on what we have in the pantry and freezer. Now wouldn’t that force me to get creative with meal planning?! And just imagine what new things I could try with a month’s worth of freed-up grocery shopping time! (Caveat to me: I may end up feeling guilty for having so much bounty that my family could survive for a month on what I’ve forgotten is in the cupboard.)
  • I could make the choice to not use my car to get me to and from work during these nice summer months – what would I see that I would never see driving?
  • I could require myself  to write each day as a way to reach my goal of actually writing a book . . .
  • I could volunteer for . . .
  • I could….

Life is so short. Try something new (that won’t scare your loved ones witless!) to get outside your comfort zone and expand your joy factor! Say YES to something you might usually answer to with a NO.  Often the things we don’t do in life are the things we end up regretting.   – M

Try new things

Inspire us – what did you say “yes” to that you found surprisingly to your liking?

Recess – It’s What’s for Lunch!


There’s no doubt that a break, somewhere in your otherwise routine day, is beneficial and can lead to more productive hours in the aftermath. However, many of us at work spend our lunch time ‘googling’ things we didn’t get to finish up last night, or editing some report for work and yes, even catching up on work emails.

People – that is not really a lunch break!

We’d like to suggest some of the following activities for your lunch hour and hope they provide inspiration for a few ideas of your own!

WalkingTried and true – take a walk: Just a twenty or thirty minute walk will clear your head, burn some calories, add to your 10,000 steps a day and give your circulation a boost. Walking briskly for just 30 minutes a day can result in weight loss even if you change nothing else! AND… walking just 20 minutes a day can reduce your risk of premature death – by a third! Did you know lack of physical activity is worse for you than being obese? I did not know that!

Learn something new: Shut your door or grab your laptop and head to the park to enjoy an on-line class that you can move through at your own pace. Whether for fun (Creative Writing?), to satisfy your curiosity (the History of Comic Books?) or an academic subject to enhance your career, topics abound. You can also check with local community centers, libraries, craft stores and hardware stores for lunch-hour classes. Learn yoga, a new language, or how to antique a dresser in a class designed to get you learning and back to work in a timely manner!

Knit: I know I’ve touted the benefits of this in previous posts, but it’s a very relaxing activity that’s easily portable. It provides a creative outlet for any work-related frustrations the morning may have caused as well as giving one a feeling of accomplishment. You will have visual proof of progress! Any portable crafting activity – needlepoint, cross-stitch, beading, crocheting, hand quilting, plein air painting, sketching, etc… will work. Quite often, I’ll put on a podcast while knitting which provides the added benefit of keeping me in the know!

BicyclingBike ride: Getting on a bike and feeling that breeze while pedaling away always makes me feel younger. When I’m done, I am never sorry for having taken that ride. This activity usually needs to be followed by a shower (for me at least!) so I am quite thankful for the facilities we have here at work. See first point for all the benefits of moving!

Lunch with FriendsEat lunch with others: I rarely do this; I get a little territorial about my lunch break. When I do say yes to the invitation though, it really is a nice break. Kvetching with others is a great change of pace. Get away from your desk, get out of the office building or home office, and talk with someone face to face. It refreshes your communication skills, allows you to interact in a more relaxed manner, provides an opportunity to vent if necessary, and gets you listening – all of which can make your afternoon communications seem easier.

Running ErrandsRun errands: Seriously, this is like a treat to me that sometimes feels like playing hooky. If I can run to the post office and mail off a package and then swing by the store to pick up those few items that I need for dinner that evening, all within my lunch period thus eliminating having to do it on the way home – SCORE!!! Checking off things on our lists makes everyone’s day. Just watch your time so you don’t have to apologize when you get back to the office, and you’ll feel ready to take on the afternoon at full speed. You’re already on a roll – keep up the momentum!

LibraryTake a trip to the library: Plan this for later in the week and you could find that Friday night movie you wanted to see (but just didn’t get to while it was still in the theaters). Bring your list of books others recommended or that caught your eye, and you’ll have an interesting read on hand should you find yourself inside on a rainy day, or an evening with free time, waiting to pick up a child/grandchild from their summer activity, waiting at the doctor’s office, between flights, while traveling….I could go on and on. In my world, there’s always time for a good book!

So, the moral of the post is – don’t waste YOUR time. Just because it is free time doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable. It’s one of your most precious resources – do something beneficial, something you enjoy, something other than work!!        -M

Out to Lunch_2

What are you doing behind your “Out to Lunch” sign?

Motivational Monday #22

You may have experienced setbacks. You may be struggling with difficult issues. Or you may be content with the status quo. Wherever you are in life, it is important to keep learning, keep growing, and keep moving forward, because

Motivational Monday #22                                                                                      Photo by Richard Verdoorn