Tag Archives: internal reflection

5 Ways To Return Joy To Your World

medium_369931356Regardless of faith or religious conviction, it’s easy to get caught up in the commercialism of the holidays and forget what the season is truly about.

Here are 5 ways to renew your faith in the spirit of the season:

1. Volunteer

There are many opportunities to lend a hand at this time of year. Food banks, toy drives, parades, local concerts, homeless shelters, church collections for needy families to name but a very few. But don’t let your volunteering stop on December 26th.  Winter itself provides ample opportunities to flex your volunteer muscle.  How about shovelling snow for seniors in your area? Volunteer with Meal-On-Wheels.  Join with the local senior’s center and offer your services to drive seniors to appointments.  And of course food banks and soup kitchens need volunteers year-round.

2. Start A Drive

Hook up with a charity and host a local drive, be it for food, school supplies, medical supplies, clothing, diapers, what-ever.  Get others to help you with collection, packaging and delivery to the charity head-quarters.

3. Donate Items

This is a great one for children. Ask your children to sort through the toys they no longer play with. Take the gently used ones to the nearest donation center. Have your child accompany you to the center and ask them to put the items in the box or give them to the person at the door. Your children will be proud that their toys will go to good homes and be loved by other children.

4. Opt to Give Gifts of Hope

Instead of buying Aunt Marge yet another scarf and Uncle Fred the usual wool socks, donate the money you would have used to purchase those items to a charity.  Give Aunt Marge & Uncle Fred a card with a hand-written (or computer generated) note stating that on their behalf, you have given the gift of hope, and in some cases, the gift of life, to someone who needed it most.

5. Focus on Giving

As each of the other points demonstrate, giving of yourself, your time, your gently used items, and/or your money can all be great ways to keep and instill the reason for the season.  And if and when you do exchange gifts, always remember that it is better to give than receive. Focus on the joy you get when you watch someone open the gift you have selected especially for them because you wanted to get them something, not because you had to get them something. And focus on the joy they get from receiving it.

Bringing Joy to the World, either close to home or far away, will bring joy to your world.

What have you done or received during this time of year that has renewed your faith in the spirit of the season?

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Photo credit: http://photopin.com

Positive Ponderings: Your Last Time?

When was the last time you skipped down the street?
…or enjoyed a good swing?

Wouldn’t you like to do it today?

What are you waiting for?


Photo credit: http://photopin.com

Bright-Side of the Web: Skating on Thin Ice

Before I introduce today’s Bright-Side of the Web, if you celebrate Hanukkah, I want to wish you peace and love and a very

Happy Hanukkah!

In today’s Bright-Side, National Geographic photographer, Paul Nicklen, shares his awesome (literally, awesome) photographs and his adventures as a wildlife photographer in the arctic and antarctic.

If you can’t spare the time to watch the entire program, be sure to watch the first five minutes, although I’m sure you will have a hard time pulling yourself away.

Our polar ice is melting and something must be done. Paul Nicklen will show you why.

Share your comments on this video.


video credit: http://www.ted.com/talks/paul_nicklen_tales_of_ice_bound_wonderlands.html

Recalling Happier Days

The winter holidays of “kiddom” * likely conjure up some of your best memories of childhood.

Gathering at the local toboggan hill, you lined up at the top, mounted your trusty sled and raced your buddy to the bottom both seeing if you could break the record for who would go the farthest and the fastest only to run back up and do it again. Or perhaps you both piled onto the same sled, rushing to get your feet in, legs wrapping around legs, pushing yourselves forward with knitted mittens caked with tiny damp snow balls, tumbling sideways off the toboggan as you neared the finish. You would both grab hold of the rope and scramble up the hill again, toboggan in tow.

Making snowmen at morning recess and hoping the big kids didn’t knock it down by lunchtime.

Writing letters to Santa, wondering if he’ll have time to reply and desperately hoping you’d been good enough all year to get your wish which you revealed in confidence to the big man himself.

Excursions to the tree farm to select the perfect specimen to grace your home for the holidays. One worthy enough for the home-made ornaments.

Rushing through dinner so you wouldn’t miss a minute of your favourite holiday classic.

And on Christmas eve, tuning into the radio to listen to the reports from the airforce on where they last spotted an unidentified object flying through the sky which every kid knew without a doubt or hesitation was Santa, then racing off to bed “uncharacteristically early”*.

In our house, as the Christmas cards arrived in the mail, my mother would tape them to the wall behind our dining room table. As the month passed, the collection grew. Bright and cheery images added to the holiday decor. Inevitably, there would be at least one pair of matching cards, sometimes two, and we would make a game out of trying to find the match.

On Saturday mornings, my father would get up early and drive my best friend and I to the local outdoor skating rink, often arriving at 7:00am. (at least that’s how I remember it).  The place was vacant. We had the entire rink to ourselves. He would leave us to skate to our hearts content. Where he went, if he even went anywhere, I do not know and never considered until only a few years ago. All I knew was, we were alone, we always felt safe, and we were given the freedom to do what we loved. We would practice our twirls and try to add jumps and would race from one end to the other. My father would arrive to pick us up again just as the official public hours would begin and snack bar would open.  We rode home with dreams of olympic glory in our futures; the next Dorothy Hamills.

When my children were small, I began the tradition of giving them one new ornament each year.  As we decorated the tree as a family, just before the final one was hung, I would present them with that year’s ornament. My hope is that when the time comes for them to have a tree of their own, to decorate with a family of their own, that they will begin their new lives built on happy memories. Hanging among their shiny new ornaments will / that each ornament they unwrap from their past will recall a happy memory from their childhood days which they can use as a base from which to branch out.

What’s your happiest holiday childhood memory?

* “kiddom” – from A Christmas Story
* “uncharacteristically early” – from Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
Photo credits: http://photopin.com
Video Credits: YouTube



10 Ways to Keep the ‘Happy’ in ‘Holidays’

Today is December 4th. Christmas morning is a mere twenty-one days away.  “Are you ready?”, is the common question you hear. “Finished your shopping yet?”, is the other.
I don’t know much about the other religious holidays that occur at this time of year; I have a vague understanding of some. Christmas is the holiday I celebrate, so all I can speak to is how Christmas is observed in my part of the world, and in my immediate surroundings.

Basically, there is an over-hanging stressfulness that envelopes this holiday. Families are trying to sort out plans about who will be where and when, and is it possible for us all to get together on the same day, and why not, and when will we see you if we can’t?

Then there’s the who-do-we-have-to-buy-gifts-for discussions? Followed by the what-shall-we-get-them brainstorming sessions. Which logically is followed by rushing off to stores whenever the time allows to complete the list of requests and decisions, if you’re lucky. Sometimes you have no idea what to buy someone so you spend hours searching for just the right thing that you hope they will like and use and benefit from.

I’m drawing a bit of a glum light on things. There is of course the other side of this equation; that you really want to get something special for someone because you love them so much and want to shower them with gifts to show your appreciation for their existence in your life.

The difference is the having to buy versus the wanting to buy. 

But regardless, there is shopping involved and generally a lot of it with many people spending more than their lifestyle can afford thus bringing on the dreaded PMS: post-merchandise stress. How are you going to pay off your credit card when you are barely making payments for your monthly household expenses?

With twenty-one days to go before the big day, I feel it is an appropriate time to reflect on the meaning of this celebration; at least the meaning as I see it.  To me, Christmas is meant as a time to surround yourself with loved-ones. To spend quality time and celebrate the joy that they bring to your life.

Yes, there are some gifts. Gifts of items that people have been needing, some are things that people just want. But in our house, over the years, the gifts have become less important and the gathering more so.

Today, the only people I buy gifts are for my children and spouse. We have done away with gifts to extended family and friends.

Making New Traditions

For friends, and this was mutually agreed upon years ago with a sigh of relief from all, we make time to spend time together. The holidays get so busy that sometimes the month goes by and you realize that the time you spent with friends, if any time was spent with friends at all, was quick and impersonal. So, each of my friends and I set a date to get together for a dinner out – no-one cooks – and we make sure we have hours available to sit and enjoy each other’s company. We give each other the gift of our time; a precious gift indeed. And this gift comes with a bonus; it has the wonderful effect of de-stressing us during this busy time and fuels our spirit to face the foray.

For family; that being brothers, sisters, parents, nieces, nephews, grandchildren; everyone that isn’t your own children or spouse, we began a tradition about twelve years ago that we still carry on today. Rather than buy all sorts of gifts that no-one needs, we gather for dinner (on the big day or another one), and at some point before dinner, each of us puts money in a pot. There is no set amount. Each donates what they feel they can afford. No mention of it is made. We just catch up on news in each others’ lives and mill around the kitchen preparing the feast while nibbling on goodies set out to enjoy. Once the meal has been devoured, the pot is retrieved and the money is counted. Suggestions are made as to where this year’s donation will go and one or two options are selected as a group. We have bought fruit trees for Africa, medical supplies for needy regions, bicycles for rural Cambodia, mosquito nets for areas with malaria, donations to local foundations and hospitals.

We started this tradition when my children were six and nine years old. They never once asked why they couldn’t get more gifts. Instead, at the beginning of December, they would start saving their pennies and doing extra chores so that they could donate too.

With my in-laws, the numbers are much smaller, but the tradition is same.  However, rather than donate to a pot, each of the families selects a charity in need and the children make a short presentation about why they selected the particular group and present the other families with an information card or small poster as a token of the gift. The amount donated is never revealed; it is only the gesture that is shared. Each gives what they can afford.

So, I promised you 10 ways to keep the ‘Happy’ in ‘Holidays’ so here are my suggestions in no particular order:

  1. Shop with a list and a budget and stick to it. Can you decrease your list?
  2. Make time to be with your friends
  3. Make time to sit down with your family and share your favourite holiday movie
  4. Play your favourite holiday music, loud, and sing along while you are doing your holiday preparations
  5. Make time for yourself; unwind in a hot bath, read a book, just be sure to relax
  6. Take the time to create traditions
  7. Focus on giving; volunteer, donate
  8. Stay mindful of your mood; if you’re upset, it probably isn’t worth doing
  9. Reduce your must-do list; what can you ask someone to help you with?
  10. Evaluate your priorities. Create memories that people will cherish.

In twenty-two days it will all be over. Start thinking now about what will really matter on December 26th.

Share some of your holiday traditions.

Photo credit: http://photopin.com

Bright-Side of the Web: Before I Die…

“It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget about what really matters to you.” Candy Chang.

Join Ms. Chang as she describes her experiences turning neglected spaces into constructive ones.  With this particular experiment, Candy says, “Thinking about death clarifies your life.”

As we bring November to a close and step into the time of year where people start planning their resolutions, think about Candy’s message.

How would you answer the question:
Before I die I want to…

30-Day Challenge: Day 30! Yipee!!

Well, how did you do? Did you make it all the way without stumbling?
If you stumbled, did you shake it off and keep going, knowing it was but a mere bump and nothing to make you give up?

I’m proud to say that I stayed away from bread for the entire month.  Not once did I have sandwich bread, bagels, croissants, waffles, english muffins, muffins of any kind or pizza. 

How did I find a month without bread? Ok, not bad, sort of hard, sort of easy.
I never once craved it but it made it more difficult to think of what to eat.  My go-to toast and jam or egg and cheese on an english muffin made me have to reach for something else or modify my standard fare – just eggs with no toast for instance.  

I did, I admit, eat more pasta than I usually do which perhaps was the reason I didn’t crave bread.  I also ate a few crackers.  They weren’t on my list so I felt they were ‘safe’ but I did limit them to much less than I would have had normally.
I had hoped that this challenge would kick-start some weight loss for me but not even a pound was shed (likely thanks to the pasta).

What’s for dinner tomorrow? Likely pizza. I did miss pizza.

Share your experience with your 30-Day Challenge.
Are you planning a 30-Day Challenge for December? What will you do?
And don’t forget to answer ‘Before I die, I want to…’ 

Video credit: http://www.ted.com/talks/candy_chang_before_i_die_i_want_to.html

Bright-Side of the Web: The Beauty of Pollination


In keeping with this week’s posts on Simplification and Gratitude, I bring you:

The Beauty of Pollination

This video has been seen over 21 million times. Why?
Because we humans marvel at nature.

Nature can teach us so many things.

Stop  ~  Look  ~  Listen  ~  Absorb  ~  Relish  ~  Learn 

Always amazing, ever breathtaking, be it your first or twenty-first time
and definitely A Bright-Side of the Web:

video credit: http://www.YouTube.com

Happy Grateful Day, Again.

Today marks Thanksgiving for my American neighbours to the south.

As stated in an earlier post, Canadian Thanksgiving happened more than a month ago.  It seems a bit odd that these two virtually equal events would be celebrated at such different times of the year but looking on the Bright-Side, it gives yet another time to stop and ponder for all that we are grateful.

We all lead busy lives, rushing to do what must get done and adding what didn’t onto the list of yet-to-do’s.  Planning for this, accomplishing that, starting the next thing; with head down, nose to the grind-stone, forging ahead.

It is nice to be able to stop and reflect on all the good in our lives, even if we have to be told to do it.  And with Thanksgiving as a national holiday, the collective stopping is refreshing and enlivening.

So whether or not you are officially celebrating Thanksgiving today, take at least a moment out of your day and make a mental list of all the blessings in your life. You may be surprised at the length of your list.

Happy November 22nd, Everyone!
I am thankful you stopped by.

What are you thankful for today?

Photo credit: http://photopin.com

Sometimes Simple = Best

Life is hard, period. 

However, there are times when things are definitely easier than others.

What is hard for someone, may be easy for others, and vice versa.

Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves and make things more complicated than they need to be. And then there are times when we don’t try at all and wonder why it didn’t work out or go our way.

Sometimes the best solutions are the ones that are so simple they don’t even cross our minds.

How simple? Think:

Peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
Grilled cheese sandwiches.
Cheese and crackers.
Milk and cookies.

In other words: Comforting. Familiar. Easy.

Can this way of thinking be applied to problem solving? Often, yes.

Sometimes we struggle so hard and long to find a way to:

resolve a conflict;
repair bad feelings;
lift someone’s spirits,

when a simple, heart-felt hug will do.

When your child is upset, just sitting beside them holding their hand may be all they need to feel better – to know that they are not alone and they are loved.

Life is hard. Simplify it when you can.

What do you do to simplify your life?

 Photo credit: http://photopin.com

Positive Ponderings: Lifestyle Coordinator

If I had the power to change your title to


Lifestyle Coordinator,


what would you do to help your next client:


photo credit: http://photopin.com