everyday success

Relationships

Everyday Celebrations

When we think about celebrations, our minds run to parties, presents and maybe even a toast or a dance. We’ve a lifetime of celebrations so our mind quickly imagines an event. We know weddings. We know showers. We know birthday parties. Those are the big celebrations, everyday celebrations are a bit different.

Everyday celebrations don’t require hoopla though they may require forethought and planning.  Quite simply, everyday celebrations recognize something special about another person, a person important in your life.

Everyday celebrations can happen every day or every other day or once a week or whatever timeline works in your relationship with the person you choose to celebrate. 

Everyday celebrations come in many forms.  It may be you leave notes for that special person.  When he travelled, my late husband knew to anticipate the cards and notes I slipped into his luggage.  He’d open one each evening before bed but he’d anticipated each message all day long. 

It could be you make a phone call or stop-by for a visit.  It might be you take a few minutes of one-on-one with each of your children.  It might be you establish a date night with your partner or spouse and make it a ritual.

What makes it a celebration?  It’s a celebration of your relationship when you focus on a special facet of the other person.  It’s a celebration when you recognize them.  It’s even a celebration when you hear out their deepest fears because you are caring for them and their unique needs.  It’s a celebration of your relationship when you remember to tell that other person how much you care.

What do you have to do to make it happen?  You’ll need to watch and listen.  To celebrate another person means you are thoughtfully aware of their life experience.  Perhaps your spouse or friend is fearful for their job.  Perhaps your person is training for a marathon, a mountain climb or even a crossword competition.  Well-timed thoughtfulness will encourage them in their endeavor, it will make them feel appreciated and you’ll feel pretty wonderful as well.

What do social psychologists say about everyday celebrations?  It’s like a glue, it helps to strengthen relationships.  They also note that the path to personal happiness is strewn with small, thoughtful acts on behalf of others.


In Your Imagination, You Are Throwing a Dinner Party

For a few moments, let your imagination run free.  You are going to throw a dinner party and you can invite anyone in the entire world – anyone whom you’d like to spend time with. 

Who Would You Invite?

You might start by dreaming up the categories of people you’d like to invite.   Will you invite friends?  Family?  Artists?  Actors?  Political leaders?  Religious leaders?  Celebrities?  Athletes?  Maybe you’ll combine categories. 

Will you want it to be an intimate dinner for two or a party of four or eight . . . maybe even more? 

Now, to add a bit of zing, you may decide to only include the people you most admire . . . living or dead.  That’s right, you might open your gathering up to include people who came before.  If you do that, you might consider Christ, Cleopatra or Johnny Carson. 

What Will You Serve?

You are hosting the event, what will it be like?  What will your guests experience?  How will it be memorable?  Will it mostly be conversation with just a bite to eat or will you create a fabulous meal?  Will you play games?  What about the music?

And, we certainly can’t forget, what will you wear?  Will it be something special so everyone recognizes you as the host?  Or, will you wear something to blend in?

What Will You Talk About?

There’s a reason for your choice of guests, what is that reason?  Your reasons may even become a part of the conversation.  Do you have questions for the people you plan to invite?  What do you want to know at the end of the event that you didn’t at its start? 

How will you turn the conversation so your desired subjects are included?  Will you kick everything off with a welcoming few words?

Time to Say Goodbye

Will you know when it’s time to say goodbye?  How will you feel at the end of your time together?  What will your dinner party have done for you?  What will it have done for your guests?  What will they be saying at the time of their departure?

In the end

In the end, you may wonder why on earth we’d go through this kind of an exercise.  Not only is it a pleasing mental exercise, it’s also illuminating.  It tells you about you; it fills in some of the details of what makes you happy.


Besting Holiday Blues

It’s one of the cheeriest times of the year - but not for everyone.  Some among us have to work at lifting their spirits especially when in the presence of manic happiness.

In Holiday Delights, we looked at many of the ways the season can lift spirits.  Incredibly, that long list is not even a complete list.  Good cheer is the name of the game and that’s when less cheery sensations can also crop up.

It’s everywhere.  The world appears to have be decorated.  People are busily running to and fro.  They look merry, don’t they?  Parties and dinners and concerts and caroling.  It’s all meant to heighten the experience.  But it can also have the opposite effect. 

Instead of cheer, other seasonal emotions can be overwhelmed, stressed, sad and even depressed and depleted.  When others appear to be tripping the light fantastic, some of us are magnifying our personal flaws and worries. 

This is a time when some among us look at our lives and don’t see the life they’d once imagined.  This is a time when instead of counting the good, some are counting the negative.  Try as we might, it can be a time when joy is elusive.  Everyone else seems to have found it but we can’t.

First of all, remember, you are not alone.  I’ll repeat that, you are not alone when you experience holiday blues.  It is so prevalent that it’s the subject of this blog.  Those who are down-hearted can barely stand the fact of the holidays.  They’re just not in a jolly place and they don’t want to go there. 

A few thoughts:

Confide in a friend, in a professional counselor, in your pastor or spiritual guide.  Talking can help.  It’s important to express your feelings.  Plus, your friend, counselor or pastor offer helpful insight.  They might even help to change your perspective.  If nothing else, interaction with another who is caring helps.

Watch the sugar and alcohol.  An excess of sugar and alcohol can put our body chemistry into a tailspin that heightens sadness and depression.  It’s not the calories that matter here, it’s what sugar and alcohol can do to start or heighten an emotional downturn.

Get rest.  A good night’s sleep can calm even the most anxious.  Unfortunately, a down-hearted period can be accompanied with sleeplessness.  Follow all the healthy sleep rules.

Exercise.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, you say.  It’s 19 degrees and who wants to be out of doors?  Wherever you do it, work up a sweat and get your heart pumping.  You’ll sleep better.  Plus, regular exercise can actually help to dissipate an emotional low.

Count!  That’s right, be sure you count.  Find one or two things each morning that are good.  At bed time, ignore the failures of the day and instead look at whatever could be construed as good.  Don’t forget to count.

Choose.  Select one or two holiday traditions and enjoy those.  It could be listening to music.  Perhaps it will be singing.  You may choose decorating a tree or baking cookies.  Whatever it is, do it and savor the moment.

You may not achieve holiday glee but that’s not the purpose here.  Taking it small and easy as you protect your emotions will help you fashion your unique path for your holidays.


Holiday Gift-Giving Made Easy

Do you have a list of all the people you like to remember with a gift at the holidays?  I keep my gift list on my computer because I’d otherwise forget who is supposed to be on the list and then I’d overlook someone.  That would be awful, wouldn’t it? 

The list on my computer keeps me from forgetting.  Besides, I then look at last year’s list and remember what I gave.  It’s all meant to make life easier.

This year, I printed the list, shook my head and decided it is just too long.  I’m naming this the year of change, the year when I’ll pull back, when I take the time to reconsider whether a gift is still suitable.  I’ll also decide what kind of a gift that should be.

On the other hand, I may decide to keep most of the names and change the kind of gift I’ll give.  Gifts are meant to celebrate the spirit of the season and not necessarily the value of the object.

The spirit of the season, not the value of the object.

Let’s look at a couple of questions to ask when looking at your list:

  1. Why do I give to that person?  Are they someone I value?  What do I want to achieve by sending a gift?  Of course we gift those who are dearest in our lives.  We may also decide to gift people whom we value even though we don’t often see them.
  2. What is the right kind of gift for that person?  What types of gifts express the value I place on that person?
  3. Can I sort my list into gift types?  My kids and immediate family get special gifts that are chosen each and every year.  What friends and less immediate family?  What about more distant friends or family whom you value; can they be grouped for similar kinds of gifts?  And, don’t forget neighbors, the postal person and other service providers. 

Every gift doesn’t need to be unique and hand-selected each and every year.  In fact, certain kinds of gifts when given each and every year take on their own life.  Often, your recipients anticipate their arrival and are delighted at their arrival.  Here, I’m thinking of pears from Harry & David or a wreath from Christmas Greens Shop.   What’s especially wonderful about these gifts is that they are quick and easy yet they make your recipient happy.

Okay, so let’s now take a glance at types of gifts that can feel personal yet can send the special message you wish to send.

Seasonal.  The aforementioned pears and Christmas wreaths fit here.  There are loads of choices from jams or nuts to poinsettias or Christmas cactus.  What suits your gifting style?

Donations.  Whether you give to the same organization or to a different one each year, honoring others through a donation makes everyone feel good. 

You might decide to choose the organization that best serves an immediate need such as the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.  For that you could choose to support international medical assistance teams through Clarion Global Response or the Red Cross

Or, you may choose to give to the same organization every year.  That links you most closely to that organizations mission.  If you wish to express the strength of your commitment to a specific organization, you may even enclose an item that organization sells – from a Red Cross back pack to a Women for Women cookbook, there are many possibilities to increase understanding of that organization’s work.

Homemade.  Whether you bake or knit or paint, your giftees will surely enjoy something you created by hand.

Books – CDs – DVDs.  You may choose to share your favorite-of-the-year with your giftees, whether it’s a book, cd or movie.  Or, you may choose a special book, piece of music or movie for each of your giftees.

Presentation

Just as we make a split-second assessment as we meet someone new, so, too, do we make instant decisions about gifts.  How the gift is presented sets the stage for delight.  That doesn’t mean you need to spend fortunes on wrapping.  Whether you choose newspapers or maps or the paper bought at the store, making it visually satisfying changes the experience.

By the way, if you are a disaster at wrapping, why not buy a gift bag or a nice box?

When gifting a donation, there are many choices.  You can have the organization do all the work, sending an announcement to your list of recipients.  Or, you may choose to download their announcement so you can personalize it. 

Back to the original point, gifting is in the spirit of the season – in your own special voice.