How To Have 365 Days of Happiness…Guaranteed

TAC-BH-3300_be_happyI’m one of those genuinely happy people but I also struggle with anxiety and ADHD in massive amounts. My life is not perfect. My obsessive thoughts and dark demons accompany me on most days, even when I try to silence them. A few years ago I developed a system called The Happiness Factor for tracking my daily ‘happy’ status. (I’m not going to go into that one here but just so you know my Happiness Factor is 88%.)

Anyway, I can usually dig deep into each days’ happenings and find something good. But, I’ve never tracked my happiness in concrete ways like I’m doing this year.

I don’t believe in making resolutions. But on the first day of the new 2013 year, I made one. It wasn’t one of the ones that I’m going to break after 3 days. This year I made a resolution to have 365 days of happiness

I got an empty big ole’ blue mason jar (aka My Happiness Jar) and some colored post its. I like color so for January I used yellow and white striped post-its. It sits on my nightstand so I don’t forget.

Every night, I capture the one thing that day that made my happy. Some days I’ve logged as many as 11, so I really have to sift down and find the one thing that made my soul sing for that day. Some days, finding even one has been a challenge. Makes you scratch your head at the end of those kind of days.

Anyway…here is Month 1’s happiest moments (January):

Day 1: Hearing Raul Minon sing “Listen to the Rain” on KCPT
Day 2: Buying “hot pink” running shoes
Day 3: Listening to Travis play his guitar in the living room
Day 4: Buying a corn dog, cheese popcorn, Heath bar and Diet Coke at Gibson’s General Store
Day 5: Seeing “Zero Dark Thirty” with Dennis, Rudee and Roy
Day 6: Addressing the Save the Date cards for Travis’ US Army commissioning ceremony
Day 7: Making chocolate chip cookies with Kelsey & Max in Candice’s kitchen
Day 8: Hot steamy shower under the skylight with rain hitting it
Day 9: Holding my Livi all Sunday afternoon
Day 10: Cleaning the Mercedes inside and out
Day 11: Sitting over lunch with Mary at her new bungalow in her pretty flowered sweater discussing life
Day 12: Buying the “Nest” pillow for Gavins new wife’s wedding shower
Day 13: Browsing around TJ Maxx looking for presents for Valentines Day
Day 14: Sitting in church with Den, Candice, Kelsey, Travis, Max, Kaylin and Kiley and singing “I Belong to the King” while I cradled Olivia in my arms
Day 15: Drinking “Comfort & Joy” hot tea at Cockrell Mercantile
Day 16: Working out with Dennis and doing our secret handshake
Day 17: Making biscuits and gravy with Max
Day 18: Weightlifting with Dennis and Kelsey
Day 19: Shopping for scarves with Helen and Max and making magic wishes in the waterfall pond
Day 20: Making my bucket list and sharing it with our old friends Mike & Mary
Day 21: Eating lunch with Kelsey at MiMi’s café (a chicken, walnut and strawberry salad) before I took her back to the airport to go back to Texas. She had a beautiful big mug of hot chocolate
Day 22: Driving to and from Warrensburg with Janece
Day 23: Reading “The Traveler’s Gift” in front of the fireplace with Dennis
Day 24: Long lovemaking session
Day 25: Reading Mickey Mouse to Max as he snuggles on my lap
Day 26: Holding Olivia for 2 hours
Day 27: Eating cheese corn and a big ole Diet Coke
Day 28: Having hot tea with Fawn Brents at the Whistlestop
Day 29: Making a big ole’ pot of vegetable soup/stew
Day 30: Shopping in the Crossroads district with Candice and Livi
Day 31: Walking in the park (2 miles) and saying hello to the sad-looking old man

These are the moments. 31 of them. There were thousands of other significant moments…happy things that made a difference. But these were the ones that at the end of the day, I knew the word ‘happiest’ was attached to each of them.

None had to do with goal setting. None had to do with conquering a huge struggle. None of them had to be broadcast over Facebook or captured in a photo. Most of them had to do with simply being. In 10 words or less.

They don’t teach you this stuff in school. Tucked between kindergarten coloring and 9th grade geometry, you learn to fit into the system. To be like everybody else. I like to think that the most important thing we can ever teach another is how to truly love life and be happy.

On to February. The journey of discovering what really makes you happy is soul-stirring. It makes you realize that perhaps doing less and being more really is a good life mantra. And it makes you realize that these are the moments that really matter.

(It’s not to late to start your own Happiness Jar. It’s perpetual. All you need is a jar, some colored scraps of paper and a pen. At the end of each day, simply jot down the one thing that made you the happiest that day. One moment. One thing. In 10 words or less. You’re on your way to 365 days of happiness. Guaranteed.)

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A 5-Step Weight Loss Game Plan

Jenny was just plain tired of the heat. She was tired of wearing long pants to her son’s baseball games in the summer, tired of her thighs rubbing together until they were raw and tired of the embarrassment she felt for being overweight. So last December Jenny made a decision. She was going to lose the weight. She didn’t know how she was going to lose the weight. Or, even when she was going to lose the weight. But she knew in her heart she was definitely going to lose the weight.

You’d never imagine that this slender size 6 wife and Mom of 3 had ever been 100 pounds overweight. She’s bubbly. Engaging. Talkative and energized. She’s got gorgeous long auburn hair and a smile to match. So when she casually mentioned that she’d lost 100 pounds the year before as I perused her garage sale, I just had to know more. How she did it. Why she did it. What was her magic bullet, her trick?

The One Thing at a Time Diet
Jenny told me there was no trick. She woke up the day after Christmas and decided that she was important. That she mattered to herself, and to her family and to God. So she took the ‘one thing at a time’ approach to weight loss. No fad diets. No insane workout schedules. Very little calorie counting. And no deprivation. Jenny simply decided to take care of herself. That’s it.

“I decided that I would start taking care of myself, as well as I take care of everyone else. I started small. Simple things like doing my hair in the morning and shaving my legs every day. Those little things were the catalyst to my 100 pound weight loss.” Jenny joined Weight Watchers Online and worked the program. She even deviated from the program. But Weight Watchers Online combined with Jenny’s intentional declaration made all the difference. The pounds came off slowly but steadily at the rate of about 3 .5 pounds per month. She added in some light exercise in the form of Piyo (a combination of Yoga and Pilates).

Fighting Back Fear
You can tell from Jenny’s smile that 100 pounds lighter feels delightful. She still battles her inner demons…the ones she fights when she wakes up in the morning and still believes she’s a size 22 until she pats her tummy and checks her hips and assures herself she hasn’t gained the weight back.

Jenny just went back to work after 14 years of being a stay at home Mom. She’s reveling in the fact that she can wear shorts to the ballpark. “I wanted to feel young, to be active with my kids and to end my never-ending adult battle with weight.” Jenny went from fat to fit in just under a year with her basic principles of self-care, moderate eating and light exercise. But her true inspiration comes from fielding kid stuff and the joy of being a Mom. “I’m more relaxed now…not so anxious and uptight.” As the weight melted off, so did some of the worries. “Losing weight isn’t about what you eat, it’s about what you think.”

Jenny’s 5-Step Weight Loss Game Plan:
1. Decide. You are important.
2. Take care of yourself. Put yourself first.
3. Eat moderately. Smaller portions. Less junk. More water.
4. Keep the demons at arms length and don’t believe what they tell you. They are lies!
5. Enjoy your life. Celebrate your success.

7 Ways To Be Brave When Your Knees Are Shaking

Hurricane Sandy just hit the East Coast. Horrifically, some lost their lives. Some lost everything they ever worked for. Some lost their homes for the short-term and some simply lost some sleep.

Manhattan was literally blacked out and taking on water in the subway systems. The David Letterman audience wasn’t there for the monologue and the Good Morning America Extreme Weather team was reporting from all over the East Coast.

Sometimes life can feel like a hurricane, things swirling about us threatening to destroy our sanity and our safe places. But what if some of those places we believe to be our refuge really aren’t that safe? What if our sanity needed shaking up a bit. What if it’s time for us to start over in a new place, in a new life, in a new destiny.

Maybe you’re a little too comfortable.

Maybe life is a little too easy.

Maybe it’s time to s-t-r-e-t-c-h.

Bravery is mostly taught to be a guy thing. You know, Gladiator and Braveheart. The Wild West. Warriors and weapons. Women seldom hear the words “Be brave.” So I’m going to tell you.

Be brave.

I even want you to join a club. It’s free and it will teach you how to be braver than you ever knew how. It’s called the Brave Girls Club. You can check it out by going to http://www.BraveGirlsClub.com.

But how can you be really brave when your knees are shaking? How can you be brave when you want to run away and hide? That’s a girl thing. Wanting to be taken care of. Wanting to be comforted and shielded from harm. A girl thing. NOT a woman thing.

A woman has to be brave. A woman who wants to control her own destiny MUST be brave.

Bravery is learned. You get braver every time you take a step toward making your own decisions without relying on what everyone else thinks. You get braver when you speak up in your own defense, even if it’s simply to tell a waitress she brought the wrong order. You get braver when you decide that your life is your own, and that it’s magical and spiritual and that it really, really matters.

Be brave.

Here’s 7 ways to be brave when your knees are literally shaking:
#1: Breathe. B-R-E-A-T-H-E. When emotion overwhelms you, breathing can center you. Take a deep breathe and start again.

#2: Make eye contact. Don’t look down or around or at your feet. When you’ve got something to take care of, let your eyes make the statement.

#3: Wear an amazing bra and underwear. There’s something about feminine power that’s unleashed when you look good underneath.

#4: Pray. God is on your side. He wants you to be brave. He made you strong and confident. Own it.

#5: Call a friend. Tell her to tell you to ‘be brave’. Have her kick you in the butt if you need it. Sometimes knowing you have an ally in your corner makes all the difference. (This isn’t about asking her opinion…this is to say I’m going to do this and I need you in my corner.)

#6: Don’t overthink. Women get paralyzed in their own heads. Don’t retreat…attack. Move forward. Be brave.

#7: Pretend. No one can tell the difference. They don’t know your blood pressure is on the rise or that your palms are sweating. Pretending (faking it) is sometimes the best way to getting what you want.

I was a 23-year old ad agency exec (aka grunt) who knew I was severely underpaid. I was also privey to what others were making. My boss called me in at review time to give me a $3,000 raise. I told him “I was more valuable to the firm.” That’s all I said. I am more valuable. His response…”you’re right”. Your raise is $7,000. I was brave. (Oh alright, young and maybe a bit arrogant and stupid too.)

If I hadn’t been brave, I’d have been $4,000 poorer.

I would’ve resented the staff I knew was making more than me, while I was doing better work.

I probably would’ve quit soon thereafter to go to a better job.

But I didn’t have to because even though my knees were shaking and I thought I was going to cry, I said my peace. I was brave.

In spite of what’s going on in your life, be it a hurricane or a thunderstorm or a broken relationship or a broken heart, you can be brave. It’s in you.

Art image by Mae Chevrette (she’s got really, really cool art…check out her Etsy shop at http://maechevrette.etsy.com )
Thousands of brave women subscribe to The Brave Girls Club (www.BraveGirlsClub.com) created by Kathy Wilkins & Melody Ross. Join them.

5 Simple Steps for How To Get More Of What You Want

My grandson Max is almost 3. He asked me if I wanted to be a pirate for Halloween and I instantly said yes. The way he presented it to me was irresistible. He got in close, he made eye-contact and he waited for an answer without flinching.

He knew what he wanted. He wanted Grandma to be a pirate. So guess what…I’m driving to US Toy to hunt for pirate hats, eye patches, a hook arm (for Grandpa) and wondering which thrift store I can hit to buy a white blouse and a vest. I’ve even turned this into an opportunity to buy some tall brown boots I’ve been wanting since last season. I’ll be adding gold necklaces and huge gold hoops to top it off and there may even be a parrot perched on my shoulder.

Secretly, I’m wanting to look as good as Penelope Cruise co-starring with Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Never downplay the influence of a 3-year old in getting what he wants. You can use this same magic to get more of what you want in your life whether you’re ordering a meal, asking for a raise or or buying a new house.

5 Simple Steps for How To Get More Of What You Want:

#1: Know what you want. Do you want to be a pirate or Cinderella? Do you want to trick or treat around the neighborhood or go to the mall?

#2: Don’t overanalyze. Women especially play through at least 5 different scenarios of outcomes before we do anything. I call this the ‘retreat mode’. We talk ourselves out of things before we even get started.

#3: ASK. You have to ask for what you want. Make eye contact. Don’t flinch. You have to let it be made known than you WANT SOMETHING. It’s okay to want something. It’s even better to get it. If you don’t ask, the answer will almost always be NO.

#4: Be more childlike. Don’t question every single thing you do. Be silly. Be yourself. Allow yourself some fun. I thought about the last time I’d dressed up for Halloween and it was in 1986, when my daughter Candice (Max’s Mom) was 1 year old. We even hosted a Halloween party that year. She was Superbaby and Dennis and I were Supermom and Superdad.

#5: Go with it. Once you decide, don’t waffle. I’m over 50. Dressing up like a pirate for Halloween isn’t exactly ‘mature behavior.’ But the excitement I feel for this Halloween and being with Max all dressed up outdoes my last 25 Halloweens all put together. In other words, celebrate!

Life doesn’t give us what we deserve. Life gives us what we ask for. So ASK. And then go celebrate when the answer is yes. Arrrgghhh Matey!

How To Create Your Very Own Dream Board


Goal: To create a magnificent piece of inspiration in under an hour (or two) that encourages you to pursue your very own beautiful life.

Materials:
• Old magazines (libraries sometimes give these away if you don’t have any or ask your friends)
• Scissors
• Glue-stick
• Colored markers (yes, you can use crayons)
• Large poster board (I prefer foam core because I save these for years!)
• Fabric, buttons, embellishments of any kind to add
• Good upbeat or soothing music (depending on the mood you want to create to)
• Cup of tea or a Diet Coke
Hint: This is a perfect project to do with a girlfriend (don’t invite anyone who doesn’t know how to dream…they’ll kill the project.)

How-To Dream: Most of us have tucked our dreams away deep down in the recesses of our hearts. Sometimes this happens because we’ve failed at something and are stuck. Sometimes we were never taught to dream at all and we have to be taught. Perhaps we’re living too comfy, cozy and need to stretch a bit. Wherever you are, it’s ok. Open your heart.

How-To Start: Start by flipping through the magazines. As you flip the pages, I want you to start listening to your heart. Tear out pictures that you love. Lots of them. No editing allowed. Focus on what colors draw you in and inspire you. Let the pictures pile up.

If you have particular things stored on your computer (your Pinterest boards, quotes you love, pics of family) that you want to use, print these out. If beautiful houses inspire you, use home decorating magazines. If you’re a foodie (which I’m not other than eating it), use gourmet food magazines.

You might have 50 or 100 pages of inspiration by the time you’re finished. Watch for words that inspire you and really, really let your dreams come out. Don’t filter your dreams. They are real. They were given to you for a unique reason. You matter. No dream is to big or unreasonable or impractical.

If you’re arty, draw your dreams. If you’re like me, cutting and gluing will be as good as it gets.

How-To Edit: Now, start sorting. Stack up all the pictures and start editing them down. You might have pictures of puppies or families or Italy or the beach. Look at the pictures and decide what you really want your dreams to be. Are those really your dreams? Or are they someone else’s dream? Differentiate.

Edit and start gluing. Overlap photos and words and turn it all into a whimsical treasure that belongs solely to you and your heart. .

Add fabric or embellishments, buttons or old pics. Use the colored markers to draw borders or words with

When you’re done gluing and drawing, stand back. Take a picture if you can. Post your dream board where you can refer to it often and don’t let anyone put a damper on your dreams. They are YOURS. They belong to your life. They are no one else’s. (I post mine in my closet so I can see it everyday, at least twice a day.)

When You’re Done: Celebrate! Do a happy dance. Call a supportive friend. Smile.

Dreams are real. They exist. It is up to you to create the life you want to live, no matter what it looks like today. I want you to make your life your DREAM come true. And I especially hope that your Dream Board will inspire you to do it.

Dream BIG and never, ever, ever give up on your dreams!

Love-Cheryl XXOO