California 2016: Day 10 – Yosemite

We spent our second day in Yosemite doing the things we had hoped to do on the first day, but it all worked out.

We did more hiking and got to see a really impressive waterfall, as well as hike to a little lake area where the kids took their shoes off and got in the water. We also saw climbers climbing up one of the really high mountains. They were hard to spot at first, but when looking through binoculars, you could actually see them on the side of the mountain.

On the way out of one area, we spotted a bear so we pulled over. It was in a meadow-like area and far enough away from us that it wasn’t even paying us any attention, but Anya was freaking out. Eric was holding Felix and he kept telling Eric not to get too close. Anya, on the other hand, was panicking and kept trying to pull me away from the grassy area but was actually pulling me into the street, though I kept explaining to her that we were more likely to get hit by a car than be hurt by the bear with as far away as he was.

We also drove for quite awhile on a really scary road to get to the top of the mountain to see a gorgeous view of the valley. On the way, Felix swore he saw a bear and looked for it on the way back down as well. Anya couldn’t stand that he had seen it and she hadn’t, so she kept asking him questions like “Are you sure it wasn’t a squirrel or another animal?”

We were lucky that we had great weather this day and were able to do a lot of hiking. I will leave you with more pictures.

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See what else we were up to in California:

 

San Francisco: Days 1 and 2

San Francisco: Day 3

San Francisco: Day 4

San Francisco: Day 5

San Francisco: Day 6

San Francisco: Day 7

Napa Valley: Day 8

Yosemite: Day 9

California 2016: Yosemite, Day 9

The 9th day of our vacation was also the first full day we got to spend in Yosemite, which also happened to be Father’s Day, which also happened to be one of the few days that President Obama decided to spend in Yosemite as well. While I admit that it was cool that we were in the same area as the President at the very same time, we did have to change our plans a little, because Obama’s presence in the park meant that things were closed off at certain times and this was causing major wait times to get in and out of the places he was visiting. This all caused a slight change in plans but it all worked out.

We ended up visiting the Sequoia Grove and Tuolumne Meadows instead of our original plans. We did some hiking at both of these areas and got to see a huge tree that was carved out in the middle so that you could stand inside it. There were also some beautiful deer in the meadows we walked through.

The day is best told in pictures…

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Read about the other days of our trip:

 

San Francisco: Days 1 and 2

San Francisco: Day 3

San Francisco: Day 4

San Francisco: Day 5

San Francisco: Day 6

San Francisco: Day 7

Napa Valley: Day 8

A Different Sort of Love…

So it’s Valentine’s Day and everywhere you look, there are signs for Valentine’s Day specials, Facebook posts, and couples strolling arm and arm or deep in conversation over a glass of wine or a cup of coffee. There are people who love celebrating Valentine’s Day and there are those who see it as just another day. Some see it as just a Hallmark holiday that makes those of us in a relationship feel like we have to go all out and spend a ton of money for our significant other. But what if Valentine’s Day didn’t have to be about romantic love? What if it wasn’t even about platonic love or the love one might have for a friend or a parent or family member? What if we look at Valentine’s Day as a way to reflect on the love we have for ourselves?

Self-love has always appeared to me as a strange sort of subject, and it’s not something we think about much. But that doesn’t make it any less important. Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves “Do I really love myself? Do I love the person I am? And if I don’t, what is it about myself that keeps me from loving that person?” As a music therapist working in mental illness and substance abuse, I come across people every single day who have serious issues, and much of it goes back to self-esteem and how they feel about themselves, among other things, of course.

How we feel about ourselves dictates the way we act towards others and the way we allow ourselves to be treated. And the way we allow others to treat us flows down to our children. If they don’t see us taking care of ourselves, they won’t know that it’s important to take care of themselves. I know that seems impossible when you think about a child who is selfish and always puts himself first, but eventually that child will grow up and much of what they do at that point will be affected by what they saw and experienced in their own childhood.

So how do you know if you love yourself? I don’t think it’s an all or nothing situation, unfortunately. You may love certain aspects of yourself or your life but absolutely loathe others, and I imagine that the balance of those things puts us all on a sort of continuum of self-love that measures how content we are with ourselves.

Some questions to ask yourself…

1. Do you allow yourself to take a break from time to time? Do you allow yourself time to do things you enjoy? Many of us don’t give ourselves this kind of time unless we are finished with everything else we have to do, which is never, because the list is usually never-ending. This means that we don’t do a lot of things for ourselves unless someone pushes us. There has to be some sort of balance here. We can’t just go around doing nothing all the time and not getting things done, but we also can’t do anything BUT work, either.

2. How do the people around you treat you? If we are surrounded by people who don’t value our needs, then that will often rub off on us and make us feel like our needs aren’t important. Do you let the people around you talk you out of things you know you’d like or want? Or are they supportive of your desires and goals?

3. Do you mentally beat yourself up if you don’t do everything you think you’re supposed to do? Are you the kind of person who tells your best friend to take a break but then expects yourself to get it all done because “I should be able to handle it?”

4. Do you value your needs and see them as important, or do you always find yourself doing what others need first? If you are a parent or a “giver,” you might feel the need to always be looking out for others before yourself. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing…the world needs people like this. But the truth is, you can’t pour from your cup if it’s empty. In other words, if you aren’t taking care of yourself, then you can’t really do as much as you think you can for other people.

I could literally go on and on, but I won’t. What it all boils down to is that how we feel about ourselves is every bit as important as how we feel in the relationships we’re in. So maybe this year, that is something to ponder. I won’t pretend that I have it all figured out, because I don’t, but it’s something that I’ve been working on in my own life for a few years now. Yes, I said a few years. It’s not an overnight thing…stuff like this takes time and it’s a process.

I suppose it began with the realization that I am not at the top of anyone’s list of priorities. In fact, I’m not even sure I’m #2 on any of those lists, either. The sad part was that I wasn’t sure if I was even on my own list at all. I found myself wanting to do things, but then I would think “but (someone else) would rather I do this instead” and then I would proceed to do what someone else would prefer that I do instead of what I wanted to do in the first place. Of course, there’s a time and place for that, but that’s not every time it comes up. It sounds weird to say but the first couple of times I did what I wanted to do anyway, it felt weird because I hadn’t really done it all that much before. But I can tell you that it gets easier the more you do it, and I am slowly, but surely, starting to sink into a new way of thinking. You should try it sometime!

California 2016: Day 8 (Napa Valley)

For years, Eric and I have been wanting to visit Napa Valley, especially during the period of time that we were really into wine. Unfortunately, these days, it just makes us sleepy. But being in San Francisco, we decided it would be perfect to stop by on our way to Yosemite. We had rented a car the day prior to go to Muir Woods so we drove to Napa ourselves. We weren’t planning on visiting more than a couple of wineries, so we figured it would be ok to drive ourselves. We had considered a tour but they are really expensive and not very cost-effective when you have kids with you.

The roads on the way from San Francisco to Napa are very windy. Unfortunately, Anya got queasy because she was reading, and we actually pulled over and she got out of the car and threw up. Poor thing….she did better the rest of the day, though. Regardless, the views were beautiful!

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I have a friend from grad school who also happens to work at a winery in Napa. Finally…after years of saying we were going, we finally did. In fact, we got to do a wine tasting at her winery (Caymus Vineyards) and she was our hostess! She got us a great deal and we brought home a couple of bottles of wine.

 

 

I accidentally drank a little too much but it was a good time:) We then stopped at a supermarket to pick up some sandwiches for lunch and visited one other winery on the way. Not all of them allow kids, so I had to choose carefully. Also, they all charge tasting fees, which is something we aren’t used to, as most tastings at wineries in Indiana are free.

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After those two visits, we began the trek to Yosemite National Park. We had reserved a room at a lodge right outside the park. We got to stop at Starbucks on the way so we could try to stay awake. Our cell phone service lasted until about 45 minutes away from it; it was that remote! The views while we were driving were outstanding!

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San Francisco: Days 1 and 2

San Francisco: Day 3

San Francisco: Day 4

San Francisco: Day 5

San Francisco: Day 6

San Francisco: Day 7

2017: January into February

It is really hard to believe that January has already come to a close…what was typically my most difficult month of the year actually turned out to be mostly ok this time around…

Travel:

  • January Wellness Weekend – This is amazing and happens at exactly the right time. Since I’ve been going to this in January, I have felt so much better this month.
  • Weekend away with the kids
  • Anniversary weekend away
  • Family vacation - Right now we are thinking about going to Greece!

Reading:

  • Read 30 books. (4/30)
  • Read 2 “self-help” books or books about fostering creativity. (1/2)

Writing:

  • Daily Q&A – Still keeping up with this!
  • Post in my blog at least 5 times a month or 60 blog posts. (5/60)
  • Work through the Right to Write. (43 chapters) (4/43)
  • 500 Writing Prompts – 3 writing prompts a month (36 total) (3/36)
  • Work through Writing Better Lyrics. (2 chapters per month, 24 total) (2/24)wpid-wp-1483131403684.jpg

Spiritual:

  • Practice and complete a daily devotional. I have been able to keep up so far!

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Music:

  • Create one new Singalong packet for my Singalongs (for work). (0/1)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano. (0/3)
  • Work on learning at least 3 of the modes. (0/3)
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces. I have a new book about listening to Beethoven’s piano music that I intend to use for this purpose. (0/10) - I started reading this book and I am starting to listen to some of Beethoven’s first concertos.
  • Earn at least 20 CMTE’s (continuing education). (0/20) - I am working on a CMTE course right now.

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation.
  • Fix the other part of the deck and stain it.
  • Wash windows and glass doors in the house.
  • Go through and re-organize the pantry. I did this on a whim this past weekend and I LOVE how much more organized it is.
  • Go through refrigerator. I am adding this to my list.
  • Go through freezers. I am adding this to my list.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory - We attended a birthday part here and the kids had fun.
  • CMoe
  • Game Night
  • Movie Night
  • Gatti Town or Chuck E. Cheese
  • Make a home video with the kids.
  • Paint with the kids.

Service:

  • Provide at least 3 meals at the Ronald McDonald house. (1/3) - We made a meal this past weekend and had a great time doing it. We need to schedule our next visit.
  • Volunteer at the soup kitchen at least once.

Physical/Health:

  • Run the 10-mile River Race in May. - I have been running short runs on my treadmill and working more on speed training, but I will need to start really training for this in a few weeks.
  • Complete at least 5 fitness challenges. Doing these kinds of challenges helps me to keep carving out time to do something physical and it gives me a chance to focus on some areas that I feel like I need to work on. (1/5) - I finished my first fitness challenge. I need to choose my next one. 
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water on most days. - I may not be drinking exactly 64 ounces every day but I am drinking a lot more and I can tell that I feel better.
  • Do something active at least 3 times a week. - I have been able to get something in 3 times a week, even if it’s just a short ride on the stationary bike we have.

Miscellaneous:

  • Eat at 8 new restaurants on our list of places to try. (0/8)
  • I plan to cook at least 10 international meals this year. (0/10)
  • Take at least one day to “retreat” and work on my writing, music, etc.
  • Do something nice for myself at least 20 times. This could mean taking a bath, spending time playing the piano just for fun, buying a piece of clothing that I want, reading a book by the fire even when I still have work to do, or anything that contributes to the idea of doing something nice for myself. (0/20)

Travel has picked up quite a bit so some of these things are not as far along as I’d hoped they would be. That being said, I’m sure time will even out and I will have more time for them at a later date.

How is your year going so far?

 


Need Help Planning a Trip?

They say that January through March/April is the busy season for travel agents because the holidays have finally passed and everyone is looking forward to spring break and summer plans. Now is the time do think about what you want to do this spring/summer!

I actually (mistakenly) always thought that it was more expensive to book trips through a travel agent, but the truth is, you just might find a better deal. It’s true that for some of the trips we have planned in the past, we have been looking for a specific type of hotel and we couldn’t get what we wanted through an agent, but in a lot of situations, we actually got a better deal, so it is always a good idea to have them price something out for you. If it’s better, then it’s better, and if it’s the same price, then you’re getting out of having to do all the work and letting her/him do it for you. There is just no reason not to have your agent check pricing for you.

Here’s why.

We really want to go to Greece this summer. We’ve been thinking about it for years and I think we are really going to do it this year, but we were really discouraged by the fact that flights are almost $1500 apiece. That’s almost $6000 in just flights for the four of us and nothing else. When I looked in one of my supplier’s databases, I was able to find flights for the four of us and 3 nights in a hotel room in Athens for right around $3600. Yes, you read that right. $3600. Over $2300 cheaper than doing it outright and by just purchasing flights, we still wouldn’t have any hotels included in it. For $3600, we could get flights for all of us and 3 nights in Athens at a hotel. And this is before my agent discount. This is a deal I could get anyone. Is it the hotel we would have chosen on our own? No. It’s not. But that $2300 savings is the difference between us being able to actually go, even if we have to stay in a hotel that we wouldn’t normally have chosen, and not being able to afford to go at all. I will also add that there is nothing wrong with the hotel we would stay at. We just typically prefer smaller bed and breakfasts or apartments, and this hotel is a chain. But like I said, it is going to be totally worth it to spend 3 nights there if it gets us that kind of savings.

So, please always check with your travel agent to get pricing. You never know what you will find.

Other reasons to use a travel agent, besides the fact that they might get you a better deal:

1. They have access to all kinds of suppliers that are offering different deals that you would know nothing about. Sometimes suppliers offer deals that only agents have access to.

 

2. They can make sure you are booking a service with a reputable company. There are a lot of scams out there.

3. More than likely, they have a network of other agents to ask specific questions to if they don’t have the answers.

4. If something goes wrong with your trip, she/he might be able to help get things sorted out. The very first trip I booked had a glitch. I got a call early one morning from my client who was in London and had missed their flight to Vienna, which meant they were going to miss their train to Salzburg. I was able to call the supplier to have the hotel notified that they would be arriving late and I was able to get the name of the train station my client needed to go to and the times for train options that evening. I was also able to start their insurance claim.

6. Speaking of insurance, travel agents can get you a great plan…and on any big trip that has non-refundable parts to it (like flights) really should be insured in case you need to cancel for a covered reason. And anytime you leave the country (if you live in the US), you really need insurance because it’s very likely that your primary insurance does not cover you medically when you leave the country.

All this being said, please contact me if you need me to check any prices on anything. It is worth a try, and it costs you nothing to have me check something for you. You can contact me through email at RachelM@MyAmbassadorTravel.com. I will also be adding a travel contact page on my blog that will make it easier, but that is the way to contact me for now!

 

Easy Make-Ahead Grab-and-Go Breakfasts

We are always racing around in the mornings, trying to get to where we need to be. Yes, I know we should get up earlier, but that never sounds like a great idea the first time my alarm goes off, so we have tried to find ways to cut down on breakfast time. Of course it would be nice if we had time to make a nice sit-down breakfast, but I don’t see that in my future anytime soon. I typically eat a piece of fruit for breakfast, but it is also nice to have a little more than that when I have a long day to get through and most likely won’t have time for lunch.

1. Banana Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies wpid-wp-1485264767214.jpg

We’ve been making these for awhile now. We found them on Skinnytaste.com and they are super easy. All you really need are over-ripe bananas, oatmeal, and chocolate chips. They take only a few minutes to whip up and about 15 minutes in the oven. We make a batch and make sure to put them in the refrigerator after a few days to keep them good for longer. They make good snacks and even desserts if you want something light.

2. Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Protein Balls 

We just discovered these a couple weeks ago. I kept seeing them come across my Facebookwpid-wp-1485264767225.jpg feed so I finally decided to try them. They contain oats, peanut butter, honey, flax seed, vanilla, and a few other things, but they aren’t hard at all to put together. The best part? They are no-bake. So you just mix all the ingredients and put them on a wax-covered cookie sheet and they sit in the freezer for at least an hour. Then you remove them and put them in an airtight container and store them in the refrigerator. You can find the full recipe here. Like the cookies, these make good snacks.

3. Overnight Oatmeal

I honestly don’t remember where we got this idea, but from time to time, if we want something more substantial than just a piece of fruit or one of the other ideas mentioned above, we make this. It just involves putting oats in with water or milk and letting it sit in the refrigerator over night. I make sure the amount of liquid covers the oats by probably half an inch. After you make it a few times, you will get a feel for how much liquid to put in there, depending on if you like your oatmeal soupy or thick. Of course, you can put whatever you want to sweeten it. I prefer a little bit of honey, but the kids like to add peanut butter and raisins. This is a little messier than the other two, but still a somewhat healthy option that sustains you for a bit.

What do you usually have for breakfast when you are in a hurry?

Books: 2016

I will soon be removing my page on my blog that lists the books I read in 2016. I wanted to share them here in case anyone needed some good recommendations for their own reading list!

 

1. Come Away With Me by Karma Brown - This book was absolutely amazing and made me cry at the end (in a good way) when I realized what was going on. Definitely one of my favorites this year. I read it a couple of months after my miscarriage and it was the right time.

2. Eve by William Paul Young – A very interesting way of explaining the story of Adam and Eve.

3. The Daylight Marriage by Heidi Pitlor – This was good but not for the faint-hearted…kind of creepy…

4. The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood - Creepy, but in true Atwood fashion…if you have read The Handmaid’s Tale, then you know what I mean.

5. The Balance Project by Susie Orman Schnall – Good story that has something we can all learn from: how to balance our lives.

6. The Other Daughter by Lauren Willig - This was a book club read that had an unlikely love story.

7. Travel Career Development - You should only read this entire book if you are taking a travel planning course like I did. 

8. The Art of Hearing Heartbeats by Jan-Philipp Sendker - Not a bad book but not at all what I expected.

9. The Forgotten Room by Karen White, Beatriz Williams, and Lauren Willig - I really loved this book and how it tied in one room with three different women in three different time periods….very cool how it all comes together.

10. The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert - A long but interesting read. I liked it, but I couldn’t really tell you why.

11. The Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes - For all those needing a self-confidence boost…a must read.

12. The Life Intended by Kristen Harme – A sweet love story though it doesn’t start out feeling that way.

13. The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey – Another sci-fi book about apocalyptic events…

14. Little Bee by Chris Cleave - Wow. An amazing read, especially in light of the current refugee situation…really gives you something to think about.

15. Rhythmic Medicine by Janalea Hoffman - A book I read for “work” that had some interesting insights into how to use music to treat physical conditions like high blood pressure, etc.

16. My Very Best Friend by Cathy Lamb - A story about lifelong friendship and standing up for the people you love.

17. The Lemongrass Hope by Amy Impellizzeri - One of my favorite books of the year….a story about where you would be had you made a different choice and what you would do if you had the chance to go back and make a different choice.

18. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty - I know the “mommy wars” all too well….interesting, but serious story about parenting and what goes on in other peoples’ homes.

19. Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey - Another one of my favorites this year…all about the different kinds of love and how none of it is strictly black and white…sometimes the things we do are done out of love, even if they may seem “wrong” to the outside world.

20. The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick – A story about a woman finding herself…and finding love with a man other than the one she married. 

21. Where’d Ya Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple - A quirky story about a mom pushed to her limits…sound familiar?

22. Room by Emma Donoghue - The perspective this book is written in is amazing. I don’t know that I could have managed to write something from the perspective of a child and gotten it right. Wow. All the things we know because of the world around us is amazing when you think about this child who lived much of his formative years in a form of locked seclusion.

23. Grey by E.L. James - Fifty Shades of Grey from Grey’s perspective…yeah….don’t judge.

24. The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – Another book that makes you think. This is a book that seems to be on all the book lists and I can see why. So many elements to this…including the idea that none of us are all good or all bad…we are human and we make decisions in the best way we know how.

25. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey - I had seen the movie a few years prior but had never read the book. I’m so glad mental health care has improved since this book was written!

26. Follow You Home by Mark Edwards - A really creepy story about a young married couple traveling around Europe only to find something creepy in the woods of Romania that follows them home to England.

27. ’74 and Sunny by A. J. Benza - I wish I could have liked this story. I typically don’t like memoirs that much, so maybe that was the problem.

28. The Couple Next Door by Shari Lepena - A twisty story about betrayal, a missing baby, and the fact that we really don’t know what goes on inside people’s minds.

29. In a Dark, Dark Woods by Ruth Ware - Another creepy story that was well written…it all unfolds at the end and it’s brilliant. I can’t wait to read more by this author.

30. The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon – Yet another creepy story with a hint of the supernatural. This is another author I have on my list to read more of.

31. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot – Not a book I would normally read but my book club chose it this year, so I did. It’s crazy what they can do with genes and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that everyone’s cells are stored somewhere in the world.

32. Behind Closed Doors by B.A. Paris - Creepy thriller about a controlling husband and a woman trying to break free.

33. The Girl Before by Rena Olsen - A story that begins with the reader not knowing what’s really going on, but eventually the story unfolds…very well-written and an intriguing storyline.

34. A Writer’s Book of Days: A Spirited Companion and Lively Muse for the Writing Life by Judy Reeves – I read this one month at a time as I wrote using the writing prompts in the book.

35. Dad Is Fat by Jim Gaffigan - This is a great book if you ever need something light and hilarious.

36. The Choices We Make by Karma Brown - Another great book from Karma Brown that has you thinking about ethical dilemmas.

37. The Vanishing Year by Kate Moretti - Another twisty book that leaves you wondering who you can really trust.

38. Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson - This was a good book to end the year with, as it was hilarious (laugh-out-loud hilarious at some parts) at the right time of year.

What were your favorite books of the year?

Quotes from 2016

In 2016, I had a daily calendar with Zen quotes. As the year went on, I kept the ones that really spoke to me, so I thought I would share them here, in no particular order…

 

“Being aware of your breath forces you into the present moment – the key to all inner transformation. Whenever you are conscious of the breath, you are absolutely present. You may also notice that you cannot think and be aware of your breathing. Conscious breathing stops your mind.” Eckhart Tolle

“The biggest cause of suffering is being here, and wishing you were somewhere else.” Ajahn Brahm

“Confidence, like art, never comes from having all the answers; it comes from being open to all the questions.” Earl Grey Stevens

“The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours – it is an amazing journey – and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day our life really begins.” Bob Moawad

“Your sadness, your fear, your loneliness, even your despair is so fragile, friend. It can break open at an moment. A single note in a piece of music can do it. A kind glance from a stranger. The feeling of the spring breeze on your face. A reflection of a bird in flight. In any moment, your sorrow can shatter into nothingness; it has no more reality than that, no more substance than a shadow.” Jeff Foster

“Who are you in the silence between your thoughts?” Gil Fronsdal

“Go all the way with it. Do not back off. For once, go all the goddamn way with what matters.” Ernest Hemingway

“Stop measuring days by degree of productivity and start experiencing them by degree of presence.” Alan Watts

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” Louise Erdrich

“It is important to acknowledge our feelings – all of our feelings. Our feelings are the pathways to our souls and need to be acknowledged and dealt with – not just the “good” ones - all of our feelings. Of course, there are some we’d rather not have or own and when we do, they will take us into our deeper selves, where we have so much to learn.”

“Sorry is how we learn to love. Your heart isn’t breaking. It hurts because it’s getting larger. The larger it gets, the more love it holds.” Rita Mae Brown

“Loneliness is the human condition. Cultivate it. The way it tunnels into you allows your soul room to grow.” Janet Fitch

“Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this, too, was a gift.” Mary Oliver

“Maybe happiness is this: not feeling like you should be elsewhere, doing something else, being someone else.” Isaac Asimov

“Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness.” Allen Ginsberg

“Just let go. Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into your consciousness.” Caroline Myss

 

 

 

2017 Intentions

It’s so hard to believe that another year has literally just flown by. 2016 has been a difficult transition year, so I really hope that 2017 is better. This is what I have planned for the year:

Travel:

  • January Wellness Weekend
  • Weekend away with the kids
  • Anniversary weekend away
  • Family vacation (We don’t really know where this will be yet, thought we’ve tossed out several ideas that include Florida, Myrtle beach, northeastern states, Niagara Falls, somewhere in Canada, some European destination, etc.)

Reading:

  • Read 30 books. (0/30)
  • Read 2 “self-help” books or books about fostering creativity. (0/2)

Writing:

  • Daily Q&A – This is a book I have that has a question each day that I have to answer.
  • Post in my blog at least 5 times a month or 60 blog posts. I have neglected my blog for quite a bit of time and I would like to get into posting a little more regularly. (0/60)
  • Work through the Right to Write. (43 chapters) (0/43)
  • 500 Writing Prompts – 3 writing prompts a month (36 total) (0/36)
  • Work through Writing Better Lyrics. (2 chapters per month, 24 total) (0/24)wpid-wp-1483131403684.jpg

I have several other books I am looking forward to reading/writing with, but I am really trying to make this list of goals realistic and possible, so I will re-evaluate in a month or two and see if I can possibly add something.

Spiritual:

  • Practice and complete a daily devotional. I received Journey to the Heart: Daily Meditations on the Path to Freeing Your Soul by Melody Beattie, so I will be using this one. In fact, I have already started it.

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Music:

  • Create one new Singalong packet for my Singalongs (for work). (0/1)
  • Learn at least 3 new Classical pieces on the piano. (0/3)
  • Work on learning at least 3 of the modes. (0/3)
  • Listen to 10 classical music pieces. I have a new book about listening to Beethoven’s piano music that I intend to use for this purpose. (0/10)
  • Earn at least 20 CMTE’s (continuing education). (0/20)

Home and Organization:

  • Complete Bonus Room Transformation.
  • Fix the other part of the deck and stain it.
  • Wash windows and glass doors in the house.
  • Go through and re-organize the pantry.

Family:

  • Inflatable Fun Factory
  • CMoe
  • Game Night
  • Movie Night
  • Gatti Town or Chuck E. Cheese
  • Make a home video with the kids.
  • Paint with the kids.

Service:

  • Provide at least 3 meals at the Ronald McDonald house. (0/3)
  • Volunteer at the soup kitchen at least once.

Physical/Health:

  • Run the 10-mile River Race in May.
  • Complete at least 5 fitness challenges. Doing these kinds of challenges helps me to keep carving out time to do something physical and it gives me a chance to focus on some areas that I feel like I need to work on. (0/5)
  • Drink at least 64 ounces of water on most days. I need to get back into the habit of drinking more water.
  • Do something active at least 3 times a week. This can be running, riding the exercise bike, walking, or strength training, or whatever.

Miscellaneous:

  • Eat at 8 new restaurants on our list of places to try. (0/8)
  • I plan to cook at least 10 international meals this year. I typically like to focus on one country a month, but based on my experience last year, I think it might be a good idea to recognize the fact that some months might be busier than others. (0/10)
  • Take at least one day to “retreat” and work on my writing, music, etc.
  • Do something nice for myself at least 20 times. This could mean taking a bath, spending time playing the piano just for fun, buying a piece of clothing that I want, reading a book by the fire even when I still have work to do, or anything that contributes to the idea of doing something nice for myself. (0/20)

 

Last year, I made it a goal to also recognize when something became too much or was no longer meeting the need a goal was intended to meet and allow myself to cross it off the list, so I plan to keep going with that idea in 2017. I am slowly getting better about not freaking out every time I don’t finish something completely. On the other hand, I could always add something, too!

Another big area that I think I desperately need to work on in 2017 is continuing to surround myself with positive people who make me feel good about myself. I have realized recently how important it is to have appropriate support in order to be the best you can be, and this is an area of my life that kind of needs an overhaul. I can feel myself already beginning to set boundaries with the people in my life who don’t do this for me. It’s really nothing personal; it’s just that I want a more fulfilling and satisfying life and I deserve that; we all do. I’m hoping that making this kind of change will continue to help me to increase confidence in myself and help me to be more comfortable with who I am.

Along with surrounding myself with people who are supportive and encouraging, I also need to spend more time in environments that are positive for me and doing things that foster creativity and make me feel fulfilled. This is all part of a larger plan to take better care of myself.


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