Holiday Happiness!

Holiday Happiness!

Expectations and stress seem to increase in the weeks leading up to Christmas day…we need to make the perfect meals, wear the perfect clothes, and of course, buy the perfect gifts!  While it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that holiday happiness lies in the art of celebrating it perfectly, I’m finally realizing that true happiness during the holidays comes from some surprising places that are wonderfully imperfect!  I truly believe that holiday happiness is as simple as reassessing our priorities so that we are not only happier this holiday season, but are better at spreading the joy too!

Christmas happiness.

Creating Holiday Happiness!

Some people may grumble and gripe about the holidays–too much family, too much food, too many obligations…but what if we concentrated more on creating special memories and making deeper connections with those we love and associate with, perhaps then, the holiday season would become more synonymous with true happiness for each of us!

♦  This time of year always reminds me of the year my father was diagnosed with leukemia in the early weeks of December nearly twenty years ago.  It gets me thinking about how impermanent life can be.  Holiday happiness can be as simple as realizing that we may not know for sure who will be around the table next year.

So let’s be sure to:

· Invite family over and savor their company.

· Find one thing to appreciate about every person we are with.

· Share a funny or poignant memory of a time you spent together.

· Allow them to do the same for you.

♦  Rather than be harried and impatient as we check off our holiday “To Do” list, let’s focus more on the goodness of others this time of year!  I loved that my mother always seemed to see something greater in me that I saw in myself.  If someone is seen as special and gifted in some capacity, they often rise to the occasion.  Why not treat people as we would want to be treated ourselves…we might be amazed by the responses.  This is a gift we can give others that will keep on giving all year long–perhaps even a lifetime!

Wayne Dyer quote.

♦  Building upon past successes is a sure way to bring about holiday happiness.  Understanding our strengths and how to leverage them is key to achieving more in less time with less work–and for me, that is the epitome of holiday happiness!  Santa doesn’t reinvent the wheel each year, he knows the things he does well and sticks with them!  Enjoy your holiday traditions, but have reasonable expectations of yourself and others…that’s not to say you can’t change things up a bit on occasion!

(My grandmother used to hang this same Norman Rockwell picture in the entryway of her home during the holidays.  As a child, I loved seeing how happy Santa seemed to be as he made something special for each boy and girl.  By sharing holiday happiness with others, we can truly capture the magical feeling of this season!)

Norman Rockwell Santa

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony!”  Mahatma Gandhi

♦  Keeping the right focus on this wonderful time of year helps us devote more of our time and energy to our faith, family and friends…after all, isn’t that what Christmas is really all about?  Do the things that you and your family love to do together during the holidays.  This season really can be a time of true happiness and fulfillment as we focus on the things that make it such a special one to celebrate!

Temple Square nativity.

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and singing glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill towards men.”    Luke 2:13-14

Christmas all year long.

May an abundance of happiness be yours during this special season! 

I’d love to know what Christmas traditions make you happiest. 

–With love, Mary

The Thank-You Season!

The Thank-You Season!

In this day and age of continuous negative news cycles and disheartening social media onslaughts…did you ever stop to consider that we all have the power to make life a more positive experience, not only for ourselves, but for others, as well.  I believe that our ability to express a sincere, “Thank You” has the potential to motivate, create good will, make peace, and solidify friendships, love and commitment like few things can!  In this season of Thanksgiving, let’s seriously consider these two compelling words…and perhaps in the process we’ll become more mindful of using them more often all year long!!

Thank You season!

“Remember, being happy doesn’t mean you have it all…it simply means you are thankful for what you do have!”   Tribute Journal

The Power Of Saying Thank-You!

♥  Saying thank-you creates an attitude of gratitude!  Imagine my delight when I heard that a few of the first words my sweet, two-year-old grandson, Elliot, learned to say were please and thank you!  This important lesson of learning to be grateful for what your parents and other loved ones do for you at such a young age can’t help but have a profound influence on your view of the world around you.  I’ve certainly found that the amount of appreciation I am able to express has a dramatic impact on how I relate to others and my perspective of their thoughtful contributions to any situation they may encounter.  An attitude of gratitude seems to nurture a genuine hope in all the good things that life has to offer.  As parents, isn’t this one of the greatest desires of our hearts–at least as far as our children are concerned?

The Tahnk You Season! Teaching children gratitude.

“Having an attitude of gratitude everyday makes us more aware of the many blessings that come our way!”  Jake Wilding, Elliot’s fun dad

  Saying thank-you promotes helpfulness!  It seems like such an obvious conclusion, but researchers who conducted a Harvard Review study on gratitude found that receiving a sincere thank you has a significant impact on our ability to be helpful.  Their findings showed a more than 50% increase in the amount of additional help that was offered as a result of appreciation being expressed; it’s validation that our contributions are meaningful.  All I know, is that I can vouch for the fact that when my husband notices the things I do to help make our household run more smoothly, it enhances my feelings of being valued, making me want to work even harder to show my strong commitment to our marriage.

Thank You quote.

“I appreciate you…especially your heart!”  Tom Wilding, my kind hubby

♥  Saying thank-you keeps us humble!  While we’d all like to think that we can forge ahead in life relying on little more than our own skills and ingenuity, the truth is, we need each other!  I have a dear friend who worked as a charge nurse on our maternity and NICU unit for many years until her recent retirement.  Her leadership skills were impeccable, she respected the doctors on our staff, but most importantly, she always took the time to express her genuine gratitude for every nurse she worked with and each one’s unique and individual talents.  You see, while she was very capable in her own right, she had the foresight and humility to realize that it took a tremendous amount of teamwork to give our patients the quality care they deserved, so she was always quick to say thank you and be appreciative of the everyone’s valuable contributions!  Acknowledging that our success in life is dependent upon the special relationships we have with others, and expressing gratitude for the efforts they make on our behalf to help us become the best versions of ourselves…is the epitome of being truly thankful!

Vintage nurse picture.

(via Vintage Nurse)

“Teamwork divides the tasks…and multiplies the success!”  Unknown

♥  Saying thank-you improves health and fosters resilience.  Wow…that seems like a tall order for two simple, little words!  But according to research studies done on this very topic by Lisa Aspinwall, PhD, a psychology professor at the University of Utah, it was proven that grateful people are more optimistic because they notice more good in their lives and that translates into a healthier immune system, which ultimately means you harbor less stress.  In fact, it was determined that being mindful of the things you’re grateful for each day actually lowers inflammation in the heart and improves rhythm.  Professor Aspinwall also concluded that even in the face of tremendous loss or tragedy, such as a terminal diagnosis or death of a loved one, it was possible for people to feel thankful; this positive energy often served as a buffer against the ill-effects of their circumstances because they tended to focus their attention outside of themselves to viable treatments and supportive relationships, rather than adopting an inward “woe is me” self-pitying view of life.

Being Thankful.

“If the only prayer you ever say is ‘Thank You’ –that will be enough.”  Eckhart Tolle

♥  Saying thank-you is just the right thing to do!  While expressing genuine gratitude may take a little time and effort, in a world that seems to focus more on all the negative fodder around us, if something as simple as expressing appreciation can increase our happiness and positive outlook on life…why not do it more–seems like good karma to me!  Not only is saying thank you a good social skill that might brighten someone’s day, our own lot in life seems to appear better when we are thankful.  My dad always used to say that being grateful, for even the smallest things…our families, good health, a new day to go out and make a difference, to name a few, brought him a sense of contentment in his life that was hard to get any other way!

Happiness is Saying Thank-You!

Here are just a few things I think are good ways to express gratitude and have an overall happier outlook on life!

· Write in a gratitude journal.  Think of something new each day.

· Show thoughtfulness to others.  Goodness seems to be contagious.

· Write a thank you note.  Acknowledging kind deeds expands our hearts.

· Tell someone sincerely how much you really appreciate them!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thank You season!

The Thank You Season!

“Our thanksgiving should be perpetual.”  Henry David Thoreau

I would love you to share any thoughts you have on being thankful.

–My heartfelt thanks to all of you who follow along here!  Mary  

My Funny Valentine!

My Funny Valentine!

I think we’ve all had those moments when we get lost in a romantic best seller or a sweet love story that unfolds in the latest “chic flick” …you know, the ones, where responsibilities are thrown to the wind, and spontaneous adventures, beautiful flowers and whispered sweet nothings abound!  Then all too quickly, reality comes back into focus and we return to our daily routines where nothing it seems, is ever very glamorous and the sometimes quirky, less amorous ways that our partners show they love us don’t quite measure up to our romantic expectations.  That being said…I’ve decided that the month dedicated to celebrating love seemed like a good time for being more appreciative of the “real” romance and often unconventional ways of my loving husband…my fun and funny Valentine!

My Funny Valentine!

“Real love is when reality is better than your dreams!”  Tribute Journal 

The Fun Love Of My Funny Valentine!

♥ My funny Valentine does housework! 

Forget rose petals scattered all over our bed or a love note written on a steamy mirror…more often than not, one of the ways my husband shows me he loves me is by cranking up his favorite country music and helping me make our house a clean and comfortable home…and as an added bonus, he makes it all so darn much fun.  In my opinion, there’s nothing quite so wonderful (and sexy) as a man who shares the household chores!  It’s the kind and helpful gestures of our partners that truly shows their sincere devotion and appreciation of the relationships we share with them!

My Funny Valentine!

“The key to a happy marriage…is to work hard to make it happen!”  Kelly Hoppen

♥ My funny Valentine is my biggest cheerleader!  (Minus the pom poms.)

My husband believes in me!  He is my biggest cheerleader, not in a rah-rah, showy fashion where he lavishes me with all the desires of my heart, but in the ways of a man who can put his ego in check and selflessly offer quiet support that tells me he has my back and believes that I can accomplish anything I set my mind on doing.  When I’m busy fulfilling an obligation or working on a project, he’s happy to help out by working his magic with his power tools, running errands or simply bringing me a cold diet coke or a quick bite to eat.  During those times when I overcommit and spread myself a bit to thin, so to speak, this dear man has learned to lovingly offer pep talks and humor to rally my spirits and help me set realistic boundaries for my time and energy.  That, my friends, is true love!

My Funny Valentine!

“Motivate and support your partner.  You are both a work in progress…so grow and build together.”

♥ My funny Valentine doesn’t text!

Yes, my husband has a cell phone with all the bells and whistles, and believe me he couldn’t live without it!  With a career as a financial consultant, he is constantly getting updates on the stock market and the state of the economy so he can be informed and call his clients when necessary…but if I need to get in touch with him, my texts usually just go the way of any other data debris sent out into the universe!  My “old-school” sweetheart recently told me that texting seemed like such a sad alternative to actually hearing my voice and having a real conversation.  (Awww!)  I have to admit, you can cover a lot more ground in a short phone call–and a few sweet nothings can be shared, as well!  Our high-tech habits may not always be the best choice when it comes to building our relationships!

My Funny Valentine!“One of the most important things about communication in marriage…is hearing what isn’t being said!”  Peter Drucker

♥ My funny Valentine wears rose-colored glasses!

It’s easy to become disenchanted with our partners as the evolution of marriage takes place…what once seemed like effortless passion is replaced with the reality of jobs, bills and kids.  Some things your spouse does that once seemed so charming can become an irritating annoyance…am I right?  Well, lucky for me, my husband dedicated himself long ago to this wild and crazy journey we embarked on, by always seeing the positive aspects of being together and embracing the changes that have taken place over time in our marriage.  I think we’ve both learned through the years, that love is a special gift that grows only when we give it to one another unconditionally!  It’s wonderful to have someone by our sides who looks at us and truly believes that we have gotten better as time goes on!  John Lubbock quote.In all likelihood, I probably won’t be sitting down to a romantic, candlelit dinner with soft music playing in the background come Valentine’s Day, but it’s sure to be a fun and festive celebration with my funny Valentine, all the same!

My Funny Valentine!

“My funny Valentine, sweet comic Valentine, you make me smile with all my heart…!”  from the lyrics to My Funny Valentine by Lorenz Hart

Also…since we’ll be celebrating another year of “wedded bliss” next week, I just wanted to give a shout out to this guy and thank him for the delightful life we have together!

The New York City Marathon!

“It’s not necessarily being in love that makes me so darn happy, it is the neat person that I’m in love with that does!”  Tribute Journal

(You can read more about our life together in a “real” marriage here.)

What are some fun and creative things you do to celebrate those you love?

–Much love, Mary