Friendship Garden

Friendship Garden

Friendships are like flowers.  I love flowers.  They bring me joy; they make me happy.  Friends bring me joy and make me happy also.

Some flowers, annuals, only last in our gardens for a season; and some, perennials, have longevity, coming back year after year with repeated beauty.  Some friendships only last for a short time and others last a lifetime.

If you’ve ever had a friendship that has faded over time, you’ve undoubtedly feel some sadness over it.  I know I’ve had a few of these friendships.  Often, they simply faded away since one of us physically moved away from the other.  With both my father and husband serving as career Marines, I have moved frequently my entire life.  Even though these were close friendships at the time, the distance between us eventually won out.

Other friendships ended over a particular circumstance: a difference of opinion, a difference in values, something a little more substantial.  Sometimes these friendships were easily dismissed and other times the termination of the friendship hurt deeply.

The friends that were in my life for a moment remind me of annuals.  They were beautiful and filled in and complimented the garden of my life for a season.

Then, there are those friendships that are so deep, so intertwined, time and distance mean absolutely nothing.  You may see these friends daily, you may go years between seeing them, but when you are together, your friendship and connection never misses a beat.  You would do anything for them, and the feeling is mutual.  They are there to uplift, comfort, support, encourage, and celebrate you.  They are there for you through thick and thin, year after year.

These enduring friendships remind me of perennials.  Their beauty shows up year after year.  They are faithful and always there for you.  Even though they may not be blooming all year long, you know they will be back, ready to show up and delight you.

As I reflect on those “annual friendships,” I’ve decided not to feel bad about them fading away or ending.  Just like annual flowers, who fill in your garden for a season, those friends were there for me when I needed them.  Maybe they were never intended to be long-term friendships.  I am thankful for the gift of them, what they brought to my life and hopefully what I was able to contribute to their lives for the season we had together.

All friendships should be celebrated, no matter how short lived or permanent they are in our lives.  In the same way, every flower is a gift from the earth to beautify our world and fill us with joy.

 

 

Weekend Rejuvenation

Weekend Rejuvenation

When you were younger and still in school, you lived for summer vacation! Remember those lazy, summer days and how bored you used to be?? I sigh to myself thinking, if only I could go back in time. Then at some point you grew up and , thankfully, landed that first job. From those first days of real employment all the way through to present day, no matter how tenured you are in your career, you now live for the WEEKEND! Here are 5 tips on how to make the most of your favorite two days of the week and to rejuvenate for the upcoming week!

 Step 1: Relax

First, you need to UNWIND! You’ve had a busy and, hopefully, productive week. Between your work responsibilities, preparing family meals, running the kids to after school activities, washing clothes and cleaning your home, you’ve been juggling a wide range of activities and are most likely exhausted. Be sure to enjoy some downtime and simply just BE! Don’t worry about your “to do” list or things you should be doing, just relax. If this means kicking back with a movie and pizza, or a family game night, or simply enjoying a glass of wine while listening to music or chatting with your significant other or friends, go ahead and enjoy yourself! Clearing your mind and taking a few minutes to stop worrying about everything you should be doing is the first step of your weekend rejuvenation plan.

Step 2: Exercise

Next, be sure to fit in some physical activity. Yep, good ole fashioned EXERCISE! Many of us spend way too much time sitting behind a desk, hunched over a computer all week. Congratulations to those of you who are dedicated enough to keep up a fitness routine throughout the work week! For the rest of us, the weekend is our time to play catch up. Get out and enjoy some fresh air, go for a walk, a run, hit the gym, the park, or the beach. Take advantage of the extra time available to you over your weekend and get moving! “Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your brain in terms of mood, memory, and learning.” says Harvard Medical School psychiatrist John Ratey, author of the book, Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain. A little extra exercise over your weekend has exponential benefits.

Step 3: Reflect

Now that you’ve had the chance to unwind and have squeezed in some exercise, it’s time to grow a bit reflective. Take some time to REFLECT on the past week, from a professional as well as a personal perspective. What can you celebrate for pulling off without a hitch? What went well? What could have gone better? There are some days I feel like a rock star at work, but then feel as though I failed miserably while dealing with a family member in the evening hours. This isn’t the time to beat yourself up or have regrets.  Reflect, stay positive and make mental adjustments as you plan your upcoming week to ensure it’s the best one yet.

 Step 4: Prepare

A very important part of your weekend should be to PREPARE for the upcoming week. While this may not be the most exciting part of your weekend, it’s crucial. Review your upcoming calendar. Evaluate not only your “to do” list, but revisit your goals (personal and professional) and action plan to accomplish those goals.  Are there special events at school or work that you need to prepare for? Now is the time! You’ll be able to enjoy a more leisurely trip to the grocery store over the weekend rather than scurrying around after work during your work week. The few minutes spent planning for the upcoming week will be time well spent and you’ll thank yourself later.

Step 5: Prioritize

As you plan for the upcoming week ahead, be sure to PRIORITIZE your commitments and responsibilities. There are some weeks where you will be able to do it all, and others when you won’t be able to make it all happen…and that’s ok! It is easy to lose track of what really matters to us. Only you know what is most important to you; what holds emotional value to you. I love this quote from Steve Jobs, “Things don’t have to change the world to be important.” This is YOUR weekend, do what is important TO YOU.

Now that you are refreshed, rejuvenated and renewed, you are prepared for a fun, productive, and (mostly) stress-free upcoming week!

Bravery Comes In All Shapes And Sizes

Bravery Comes In All Shapes And Sizes

We like to talk about bravery: facing or enduring danger or pain, showing courage.  We know stepping out of our comfort zone is a means to expand our horizons.  It’s not just something humans face.  Bravery and stepping out of one’s comfort zone is prevalent in the animal kingdom as well.  Enjoy this story of bravery exhibited by one of my favorite animals.

My earliest memory was that of being in a very dark place.  I felt very crowded, heard strange sounds and smelt strange odors.  I was, quite frankly, very confused!  I remember feeling that I was NOT alone, yet there was nobody cuddling or comforting me.  Instead, it felt like somebody was crawling on top of me, or even scratching me.

I felt the urge to climb.  Not sure exactly why, but I just had a deep sense of urgency to wiggle about and climb.  So that is exactly what I did.  I started to squirm about and after what seemed forever, I heard a strange cracking sound and all the sudden I had a bit more room to move.  Here’s when it got exciting!  I most definitely was NOT alone!

Everywhere I looked I saw other babies that looked just like me.  They were also wiggling about and climbing.  In fact, they were climbing on top of each other!  It was fun at first, but then after a while, it started to get tiring.  Everybody was stepping on top and of each other, trying to climb higher and higher.  Buy why??

As I continued to climb on top of what I assumed to be my brothers and sisters, I felt something start to trickle down onto me.  It was soft and scratchy at the same time.  Whatever it was, it was forming below me and making it easier to get momentum and climb higher.

After what felt like a long time, I was able to climb on top of all my siblings!  YAY!  I had made it to the top in what had been a fun game.  But wait, why was I still finding that I had an urge to keep climbing upwards??   No idea, but I did…so I kept going.  All the sudden, my nose and then my head broke free of the soft and scratchy material surrounding me!

WOW, what was going on now??  It just got very bright and my eyes started to burn.  Scared, I decided to just be still.  So, I rested for a while.  My brothers and sisters must have noticed that I had stopped climbing which made them curious as to why, so they kept pushing and climbing themselves.  Eventually a few of them reached the top with me and poked their noses out into the bright open space too.  We were all nervous, but excited at the same time.

After a minute, I decided to be brave and pushed my way forward.  All the sudden, I was out in the open and had lots of room to move!  It was so exciting.  There was still darkness around me, but not nearly as dark as before.  I was smelling the most inviting smell and hearing a beautiful, rhythmic sound, as if it was calling out to me.  When I looked up, I saw a brilliant light shining out in the distance, casting it’s alluring presence onto a dancing surface.

That was all I needed to see.  I immediately got busy and started to make my way down a smooth, slippery slope.  Wheeeee!  This is fun, I thought, as I started slipping down this giant slide with my brothers and sisters.  We had a long journey across the soft, scratchy surface.  This motion felt a little awkward to me, but I assumed I’d master it as I got a little more practice.

All the sudden, the most amazing thing happened!  I heard a very interesting sound and caught the most wonderful scent, and then felt a cool sensation wash over me!  I scooted backwards, then started to crawl again, this time more rapidly.  Another cool sensation washed over me.  This happened a few more times until I finally felt a big rush come over me and I was free of the soft scratchy surface!  And suddenly I was…what?  I could move freely, effortlessly, majestically.

This ease of motion made me feel so happy.  I started moving my little flippers as quickly as I possibly could.  A few of my brothers and sisters were right there beside me.  We felt happy, free, alive and overcome with joy to be off on a new adventure.

I’m not sure where I am going, if I’ll stay with my siblings or see my Mom or Dad along my journey.  If I don’t see my Mom again, I am thankful that she left me in a safe place to grow and spend time with my brothers and sisters when I was just a tiny baby…sea turtle!

Baby sea turtles have the odds stacked against them when it comes to survival!  They must face countless predators as they enter the ocean and then as they frantically swim for days to get to the (relatively) safe haven of the Sargassum Sea.  It is estimated that only 1 in 1,000 sea turtle hatchlings survive to adulthood.  As you watch them emerge from their sandy nest, all this concern and impending danger is momentarily suppressed.  Instead their intense bravery, tenacity, and adorableness is enjoyed by all blessed to observe their grand entrance into this world.

I am fortunate to volunteer with the Topsail Turtle Project.  They are based out of Topsail Island, NC.  To learn more, follow them on Facebook or visit my Giving Back page here on the site.

Gratitude – Can Hit At Any Moment

Gratitude – Can Hit At Any Moment

For years I’ve been hearing about the benefits of keeping a Gratitude Journal.

I must confess, I’ve tried the practice off and on throughout the years but haven’t been successful at keeping up with it.  I think my struggle stemmed from thinking it was something that I needed to do at the end of my day, right before heading off to sleep.  Let’s be honest.  As a busy mom, military spouse turned entrepreneur, who tends to stay up later than she should on most nights, writing in any kind of journal right before I finally fall into bed just doesn’t happen.

So, I’ve started journaling in the mornings with much more success!

Does it happen every morning?  Nope!  Does it always focus on gratitude?  Nope!

Frequently I’m writing down my goals, capturing on paper what my life looks like when I’ve accomplished them.  Sometimes I’m simply working through a concept or thought I’ve been contemplating lately.  Other times, my journaling is simply a “brain dump”; aimlessly writing whatever comes to mind.  If you’ve never tried a “brain dump”, I invite you to try it out.  You may notice your stress level dramatically decreasing simply by writing e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g down that is weighing on your mind.  It’s as though your brain can now relax because it realizes that you’ve got things under control.

More often than not, I simply take notice of things that I’m grateful for.  Gratitude doesn’t have to be written down for it to count.  (Thank goodness!)

When you set out to be more grateful, you’ll find yourself looking for things to feel gratitude towards.  Then after a while, something magical happens.  You’ll find you don’t have to try as hard to find things for which you are grateful.

Take this evening for example.  I recently purchased new towels for our master bathroom.  This simple act feels like a luxury to me.  Our old towels certainly still work.  They get the job done.  But do you know the feeling when one day you notice that your towels simply aren’t soft any longer?  There have been times in the past when I would have dismissed that thought immediately.  We may have been on a tighter budget and buying new towels simply wasn’t a priority.  And remember, the old towels still get the job done.

My mindset has shifted.  Every day I shower.  It’s usually a task that is done at the beginning of my day and, in partial, helps to set my mood for the upcoming day.  Why would I not want to make that experience as luxurious and pleasant as possible?  I’m pretty sure using sand- papery feeling towels is not the best way to start my day feeling pampered and refreshed!

So tonight, as I was folding my brand-new towels, that I had just washed and dried with the assist of lavender scented wool dryer balls (If you don’t know about them, girl, reach out to me!  Love them! You can use your favorite essential oils to create whatever scent you’d like.), I felt a flood of gratitude wash over me.

I’m thankful that I have the luxury to make purchases that might not seem essential but will aid in creating the comforting home that I strive to create for my family.  (Well, at least those fortunate enough to use the master bath!)  I look forward to my shower in the morning and wrapping myself in these new, soft, lavender scented towels.

Finding things to be grateful for doesn’t have to be a chore.  Open your mind to notice the little things in life that bring you joy.  Note them, go ahead and write them down if you feel inclined, and enjoy the positive effects of a grateful heart.

Back to School, Music to My Ears

Back to School, Music to My Ears

This is fun: revisiting a blog post from a few years back when I was working from home, but in the corporate world vs. as the entrepreneur I am today.  There have been a few changes/improvements with my new gig!

  1. I am no longer required to work an 8-hour day, for somebody else. I am more present with my family, set my own daily agenda and priorities, with no guilt attached.
  2. I no longer need to work IN my home office. I was still working on a desktop and land line (gasp) when I originally wrote this blog post for my employer’s blog.  Today my business can run entirely from my mobile phone.  So, wherever I travel, if I have WiFi (Hello, Peru, Boise, ID and Boone, NC this past summer), I am able to connect with and run my business. 
  3. My kids are older, so no longer asking what’s for breakfast. Now the interruptions sound more like, “Mom, can I have some money for…”.  The interruptions aren’t nearly as frequent as they were those 5+ years of working from home in my corporate job.  If you are reading this and your children are young or still babies, there IS light at the end of the tunnel, Mama.  Hang in there! (And enjoy this time!)

Otherwise, I do still work from home – now chasing my own goals and dreams – so this blog post still resonates with me.  I hope you enjoy it. – Bec

I have to admit, the sound of the school bus driving by my home on this crisp, well…humid actually, August day, is music to this work-at-home-Mom’s ears!  Of course, I love my children and delight in spending time with them, however, summer vacation can prove to be a challenge at times.

I’ll be the first to admit that I envy their lackadaisical summer schedule.  They get to stay up late watching movies, sleep in until embarrassing hours – ranging from late morning for my younger child and almost afternoon on some days for my teenager, and then complain about how they have nothing to do!  Many days I have been working in my home office for several hours before my daughter even rolls in, inquiring about breakfast.  Breakfast?  That was hours ago.

Don’t get me started on the inquiries about food, all-day-long, during the summer.  These little people want breakfast, lunch, and start asking, “What’s for dinner?” by midafternoon.  Can’t they see that I’m busy making things happen in my office?  I’m not watching Netflix on my laptop in here!  I’m accustomed to grabbing something quick for lunch, oftentimes leftovers, and eating at my desk.  I can assure you, it’s not a well thought out meal, and I’ll worry about dinner later.

Every parent deals with, “I’m bored!” and “There’s nothing to do!”  But the work-at-home parent has the joy of hearing comments like these much more frequently.  It’s easy for my children to come visit me in my office during the day.  In theory, and at times, this is truly enjoyable and something I am thankful for!  However, when the conversation turns to how bored they are, my patience starts to wear just slightly thin.  I would welcome a day comprised of sleeping in late, taking a leisure bath after my brunch (because face it, it’s almost noon), and watching some of my favorite movies to help pass along the day!  I’m just not so sure my boss would welcome this summertime schedule!

Then there is my all-time favorite question, “How much longer do you have to work today?”  Well, I owe my company 8 hours today, so I do the math.  I am fortunate enough to have a fair amount of flexibility in my schedule, so I canaccommodate the occasional request and scoot out on some fun adventures with the kids from time-to-time.  I do know full well, however, that I will be back in my office later that evening – after dinner has been prepared, eaten, and the dishes are cleaned and put away.  And the kids will be back to their busy schedules of movies, books, and games.  And to think that they are in a hurry to grow up!

Yes, I love my children and love spending time with them also.  Yes, I’m jealous of their summertime “first-world problems” of boredom and nothing to eat.  But what I really want is a nice quiet day in my office!  So, as the school bus drives by in the morning and a smile starts to brighten my face, I’m just anticipating a quiet and uber-productive day in my home office!

Until, “Hey Mom, what’s for dinner?”