proactive gratitude

Long have I been a champion of capturing the blessings in my life each evening in my journal. There is much evidence to suggest that simple actions of gratitude lead to greater happiness (cc:Shawn Achnor's TED Talk: The Happy Secret to Better Work). Listing the plentiful elements of my life that I am grateful for ensures that I end my day reflecting on what matters most & that the things that matter least do not interfere with the abundance of joy my life possesses.

I have contemplated this act to serve as an additional bookend to my day, at the beginning of it. Some days (err.... most days...) I wind up jumping right into the daily grind & do not take the time to set my day up & build my consciousness for gratitude. I have actively been trying to get around this, to boost my energy for the moments ahead of me & essentially embrace gratefulness at the beginning of my day. I have found this endeavor to be relatively simple. As I'm eating my breakfast I keep a journal at my desk & within it, in a few lines, I write out all of the wonderful anticipated moments ahead. I have found that as a result I look at my daily schedule less as a transactional to do list & more as an opportunity for joy, adventure, & blessings. I have also found greater awareness for opportunities that aren't explicitly on my agenda that otherwise may have gone overlooked. Some of the most mundane & repetitive tasks have felt much more exciting when I do this & I cannot help but find myself approaching the day ahead with a positive perspective.

Today I am excited to... work from home in the morning at my freshly cleaned & organized desk, sip warm green coconut tea, share a rare workday lunch with Pat, engage in early childhood education dialogue during the evening's book conversation, pack & prepare for an exciting week in Birmingham, smile at strangers, tackle small tasks & celebrate productivity, continue my exercise routine, respond to emails with delight, scratch the back of Penny's ear, eat yummy leftover pizza for dinner & fall asleep in Pat's arms.

Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)


a break up with clutter

My Dearest Clutter-

I need to be frank with you- things just aren't working out. I know this may have caught you off guard, especially considering how much I have loved & adored you over the years, invited you into my life & even let you move into my home, head & heart. I want to be honest with you because after all we have been through the least you deserve is honesty. Here goes....

I need my own space & less stuff. I have created an outbox thanks to the encouragement of Apartment Therapy's January Cure & I want you to know  that through the outbox process I have given "us" an honest consideration. I have been putting pieces of our relationship into the outbox & have realized that the emotional attachment I once had to you is now gone, I'm sorry. I've even been doing this alongside a dear friend. She's been very supportive with my decision, we check in with each other & talk about our coping process frequently. Maybe you can find support from her clutter since she's letting it go too?

I'm feeling smothered by your words. Every day with you is information overload. I've slowly but surely unsubscribed from all of the emails you send me. Please stop contacting me with your tempting sales to buy more stuff & your unnecessary updates on matters that I am not interested in. It's been somewhat grueling to go through this process, but with every email you send that does not add value to my life I'm actively disconnecting.

I have to admit, I'm feeling sluggish from your grub. I've lost touch with the nourishing foods & cuisine that bring me energy & make me feel healthy. I've stuffed every space I can find in my home with processed, sugar & fat loaded snacks that have ingredients I can't even pronounce. I carry the weight of this with me everyday, I feel less productive because of it's presence & I am unable to think as critically & creatively as I know I can. I'm choosing to rise above.

I can't let you keep taking over my "to do" list either. As a result I never feel like I get anything done & at the end of the day it just feels that there is always more & more to do. I'm going to get concrete, be more purposeful with my time, more thoughtful about my actions & develop the art of prioritizing. There just isn't any room in my day for you anymore. 

Finally, & perhaps the worst of it all, I want you to know that I am stifled by your gossip & negativity. You hold my growth back & make me think less about myself by exposing the flaws of others through gossip columns, tabloids, broadcasts & other sources of unnecessary communication. I'm choosing to liberate myself from the negativity this has induced in my life. I want to set my own definitions & lift up others around me in an effort to lift myself & grow collectively. Your senseless words do not promote my ambitions & therefore I must cut myself off. 

While all of this may feel somewhat harsh I want you to know that I don't resent you (that would only occupy more space in my heart). I'm simply choosing to peacefully detach from you. I hope you understand. 

It's not you, it's me.


happiness is routine

(source: Pinterest) 

Ever feel like your life is a broken record of mindless & predictable routines? I do. Frequently. This year, in an effort to attend to the pursuit of mindfulness I'm being more intentional about ways to infuse happiness mindfully into my days. 

First day's moments: Before reaching for my iPhone to read emails, check Instagram, or whatever my typical groggy morning habits are I try pausing & treating my first morning moments to myself. By my bed I hang a bright pink sticky note that reads "Quiet your mind before starting your day" it's my simple reminder to pause & pay attention to the way I feel, the morning sounds outside my window, the glow of early sunshine & all other features of a fresh new day. I've found it much more peaceful to wake-up this way than immediately rushed by action items & the hustle to get to my first assignment. 

Experiencing everyday tasks: Pat has a philosophy he calls "wash the dishes" meaning that since we are often so hasty to get through our tasks & begin the next one we end up spending our time just going through the motions- rather than focusing on the present mission, like washing the dishes. How often do we really wash the dishes to wash the dishes? I know anytime I wash the dishes all I can think about is clearing out the sink & getting to my next action item. Next time, truly wash the dishes- embrace the aroma of the dish soap, feel the smooth textures of the dishes on your finger tips, create gratitude in each new dish as it become cleansed & ready for another blessed meal to rest upon it. Focus on the senses & the gratitude of the chore rather than just plowing through it. 

Smile: Smiling is an instant mood booster for me. I've made it my commitment to smile in the times when I typically wouldn't- like making the bed, or driving my morning commute. It's even a way to share happiness with others, like when you're on the phone with a customer service representative or in line at the bank- when others see a smile (or even hear it, yes when you smile & talk your voice rings of happiness) it's contagious & spreading happiness is a reciprocated gift to yourself as well.

Embrace nature: Even though I live in a metropolitan area there are so many opportunities to appreciate & be mindful of what's around. When I'm walking somewhere I like to notice the ground below my feet, admire the big fluffy clouds above & the colors of the sky, listen to the chirps of birds or the rustle of tree leaves and fill my lungs with the air all around me. This awareness makes me happy & it also makes the walk through the parking lot or a trip to the dumpster significantly more enjoyable. 

Attitude of gratitude: At the restroom in my office there are no paper towels & only a very old & very slow hand dryer. At first I was so frustrated & impatient with the hand dryer that I finally gave up drying my hands & went back to work with wet paws. One day I finally became fed up with my cold & drippy fingers that I decided to use the opportunity to amp up my current attitude. Now every time I visit the hand dryer I make it a point to think of five specific things I am currently grateful for, it's made my experiences so wonderful that I have even stuck around for a second push of the button to continue counting my blessings. 

Are there mundane tasks that are taking the joy out of life or pushing pause on your day? Do you often feel like you move from task to task without any real joy until you can do something for yourself? Think of one or two moments or activities in your day that you can make joyful to boost happiness & mindfulness. Once you start with simple awareness I promise you will begin to uncover many more opportunities to make happiness your routine. 

Happy dish washing-


happy 20 fourteen

Oh how energizing the start of a new year can feel. Setting goals, committing to projects & preparing for the adventures ahead always seem to stimulate my spirit. One thing I'm working to be more mindful of this go-around is less time thinking about what's coming & more focus on the present moments. This realization has come so blatantly to me through the process of planning a wedding- too often I have found myself caught up in the end result that I have missed opportunities to savor the sweet moments along the way. To me, it's the genuine, surprising, and simple moments along the way that make the larger occasions what they are.

To slow down & embrace the stepping stones of the exciting things in store I'm being more intentional about journaling, reflecting, meditating, connecting with others, and blogging. For the moments when I'm tired, or feel that my plate is spilling over, I am slowly building my consciousness & holding on to my personal commitments- even if it means two sentences in a notebook to capture my thoughts at the end of a very long day, or a small chat with an old friend between meetings. I'm striving to ensure that the most important things to me remain my top priorities. 

Wherever the black & white text of this simple little "blog" end up my hope is to continue to capture & share my "ah-ha" moments, honest sentiments, small & large victories, & general thoughts about life, love & the pursuit of happiness. 

right now & today-