Laughter – the Best Medicine

Always find a reason to laugh. It may not add years to your life but it will definitely add life to your years!

Something that has always been apparent in my life is the need for me to laugh. I like to think of myself as quick witted, because I love to say things a little off the cuff to make others laugh too. I’ll tell you why…I have always loved laughing and find greater connections with others when I feel that they have the same sense of humor as me or are equally as “strange” 😉

When I first came to the US from England and I was newly married I found myself sometimes getting offended or hurt by things Brandon or others might say. I was brought up so much more reserved, I was taught that sometimes saying something to someone wasn’t necessary. Not that I have ever had a problem giving people a piece of my mind…I just was taught that it was so much more important to be polite over “just being honest”.

My family was one that always laughed and made fun of each other, but somehow we just knew that it was a joke and a little cheeky. It’s weird that even though I had been brought up that way and my family and I had done that, when Brandon particularly said things it made me feel a little self conscious and sensitive. The good thing about having a mindset coach for a husband is that he is ALWAYS willing to talk things through and somehow we just figure out a way to make it work.

Over the years I have learned that I need to not take myself so seriously, and I have actually learned to laugh at myself. Being a work in progress is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact, it’s absolutely vital. I do still get called the “fun sponge” but more often than not I try new things, I don’t mind if I screw up and make a fool of myself, but most importantly I work on not letting ideas be more important than people.

One thing I look forward to in 2019 is the opportunity to smile more, have more fun, create even more connections and love my life even more.

Laughter truly is something that makes every situation more enjoyable…in fact, when we create experiences that involve laughter and smiling they are always more memorable. Even if you don’t remember exactly what you were laughing about, remembering the feeling you had and the experience of connecting with those you love is felt throughout our bodies FOREVER. I can still remember the feeling I had when I was around my Grandad Ron…he always made us all laugh because he was quick witted and funny. His saying that still brings a smile to my face was “Happen she/he wasn’t thinking” – he would say that whenever someone would do something that was an accident or not intentional.

Because smiling and laughter is contagious in our house when someone gets started on a good laughing fit, there are always going to be others that join in at some point. My kids tease me that when I really laugh, not only do I cry but also my right eye closes and they say I look like a pirate. I’m totally OK with it, especially because at the very moment that I know my eye is closing, I am having the time of my life. Who knows, I may even capture a picture of me with the eye closed mid-laughter at some point soon.

If you don’t resolve to do anything else for 2019, decide to add a little more smiling and laughter into your life and see what happens. I bet you won’t be able to say you’re not having fun!

Michelle
XOXO


Shine a Little

“Nothing can dim the light that shines from within”

Christmas is the season for so many things: Family time, present buying, parties and friends. Even if you’re not spending your time going to parties or spending it with friends, there’s definitely nothing wrong with “shining” a little. I know, sounds a little strange, but we hear a lot about making a good impression or dressing for an occasion, and all of those are great, but unless you are letting your inner light shine, are you really making a good impression?

I have spent the past few years becoming more and more aware of how my actions and behavior most definitely changes the outcome that I get. I realized a few years ago when I was going through a kind of dark time in my life, that if I wanted light or positivity to show up in my life then I had to be the start of that light.

Sensitivity to energy is something we all have but some more than others. I noticed that when I surrounded myself with people that didn’t evoke a positive feeling in me, or even worse that made me feel dark or even down, I wasn’t able to be as resilient to certain situations or when adversity hit my life. I realized that I must also be doing that to others too when I was not putting off a positive or light energy.

This may sound a little woo-woo, but I can attest 100% that I had to change MY behavior before anything in my life would change. I had actually reached the point where I didn’t even like being around me because I knew I was more focused on negative than positive, and I was more likely to see the cup as half empty rather than half full.

I don’t know if you have ever experienced this yourself or not, but even if you haven’t I am sure you have been around someone and for some reason you just felt a weird around them or they felt a little “off” and you couldn’t figure out why. Before someone even speaks our body is picking up on their energy and if that energy isn’t good, we may not understand exactly what is happening but chances are we feel uncomfortable or don’t want to be around them.

I made a choice to change my energy, to focus more on positivity and on bringing more light to others. After making a choice to do this and working on it every day, I have noticed that the more light I give off, the more light I actually get in return. If you haven’t heard the expression “you get what you give” I can tell you that for this example, it is exactly true. Just like the more love we give the more we get, it is true about light too.

So, as I plan spending family time tomorrow, amidst all the chaos of the Christmas season, I am focused on being the light in my home, in being the one that when someone feels like they need strength or positivity, that they can turn to me.

I don’t know if you experience this in your home or not, but I can tell you if I am having a bad day or I feel sad, EVERYONE in my house knows it. They know because the light or energy they are used to seeing from me isn’t present during my “down” times. I used to think that it was too much responsibility for me or that I didn’t want all of that to rest of my shoulders, but I have definitely changed my mindset so that now I think of it is as a privilege rather than a weight on my shoulders.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas…I hope your inner light finds its way to the surface and you have wonderful time filled with love and light!

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Choose Joy

When you choose joy you feel good, & when you feel good, you do good.  When you do good it reminds others what joy feels like & it just might inspire them to do the same!

I have to admit I am enjoying this Christmas season much more than I have in the past, and I know it is because I don’t have a lot of the work stresses that I used to have before I changed my career!  I have found that I am able to focus so much more on the joy of this time of year rather than feeling so frantic and rushed.

I have had the time this year to be even more thoughtful and creative with the gifts I give (because giving gifts to those I love is one of my favorite things to do).  I think it means so much more to give a well thought out gift.  Because I have experienced so much less hustle and bustle I have been able to feel the spirit of the season and feel amazing gratitude for all that I have.  Do you ever feel so busy that you don’t take the time to appreciate what is right in front of you?  I have definitely been guilty of that throughout my life, but there’s something about getting older that makes you appreciate what you have and who is in your life so much more.

Christmas is the perfect time of year to ponder our blessings and more than that, to show appreciation to those we love for what they do for us.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like my kids don’t get what they want for pretty much the entire year, but at Christmas, there seems to be so much more wonder and love.  

I love that my childhood years were spent in England celebrating Christmas with Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles and Cousins, and that we managed to stretch it out over 2 full days (of course with the added Boxing Day).  I remember one year we played a game with my family that required us to play a cassette tape, listen to the first few notes, the beat or just the lyrics and try to figure out what the name of the song was.  It believe it was called “Name that tune”.  It had us rolling on the floor laughing by the end, because as you can imagine playing with 3 generations of people, the musical tastes are so different.  I don’t remember who won, and it really doesn’t matter, what was fun was that we were connecting, laughing, and loving each others’ company!

As I am much older now I realize that those memories are something that I can draw on when things seem dark and dreary.  In fact, it has made me even more determined to create amazing memories for our kids.  I hope that they will one day feel the same way I do about my childhood, and share great memories with their own kids.

As you can tell by my picture today, I am having fun & feeling joy.  I have found that when I don’t get so caught up in being something for someone else and just have fun being me…that’s when I am the happiest.  Maybe you could try this as a Christmas gift to yourself 😉

I hope that some of my silliness and joy rubs off to you so that you can have a fabulous Christmas and Holiday Season.


Snow Days

In the depth of winter I found that there was in me an invincible summer!

I had visited Utah many times when I was younger, visiting family and eventually when I came over to go to school here.  Whenever I returned to England I always missed the mountains and their beauty.  It was a strange feeling to miss a place and feel so at home in a place that I had never lived.

It’s been over 20 years since I moved here now and even though I miss England I still consider Utah my home…I love summers especially and I do love the beauty of the snow.  I am not a huge fan of cold weather, there is no denying the beauty of the sunshine against the beautiful white mountains and blue skies.  

This weekend I am spending time with my youngest 2 boys up in Midway (a small town about 45 minutes outside of Salt Lake City), and as you can see the snow is bringing real beauty here. I took a moment to snap a few pictures of me playing with the snow and acting silly and I have to admit, it felt really good.  Sometimes we get so caught up in our day to day lives, and I know that I have a tendency to be a little too serious sometimes.  So I have to admit, when I allow myself to let it go and I am not the “fun sponge” like my kids have been known to call me, I actually have been known to have a little fun (even when I’m cold).

Don’t be surprised if you actually find some posts and pictures of me over the next few months in full winter gear, sledding and skiing.  I promised Brandon and the boys that I would do a little of each.  In fact, between Christmas and New Year we will be going to our family cabin in Star Valley Wyoming and pretty much all we will be doing is hibernating and a few winter activities.

When it’s a beautiful, sunny winter day, it’s the perfect time to add a little fur to your wardrobe and have fun with it.  I am wearing a cute black fur vest, I added a plum colored beanie and my great Sorel winter/rain booties.  Throw on a pair of faux leather leggings, and cozy winter sweater, your favorite sunnies and voila…the perfect winter look!
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The Act of Giving

“You are not required to set yourself on fire to keep other people warm!”

 

Yesterday was a snow day in Salt Lake, it snowed pretty much the entire day, which made Christmas tree shopping last night chilly, but also beautiful.  The boys raced around the lot, hiding, throwing snowballs and having fun.  It was exactly what I needed to fill my cup!

As we have been spending time with our boys this week we have been asking for them to tell us what they each want for Christmas. With only one boy that still believes in Santa we are almost to the point where we don’t need to hide anything anymore, which is kind of sad as well as relief. It seems like I have been doing this for a long time – well, I guess I have because Dalton is 24! It’s so funny that they don’t seem to have a hard time telling us what THEY want, but when it comes to giving gifts themselves it’s a little harder.

It’s a hard thing to teach kids to know that giving is so much more important than receiving gifts – in fact I believe that the only way they truly learn is by watching what we do. I remember there was one Christmas when I was really naughty and I went searching for what my parents had bought me. I was old enough to know better…but still I found the closet that my mum had hidden the gifts. I saw what they had bought and I felt so guilty that it pretty much ruined my Christmas. Since then, I have always loved more giving than receiving. Not to the point where I don’t love getting gifts, I just absolutely LOVE finding unique, meaningful and personal gifts for people and watching their faces when they open the gift.

Christmas can be such a hard time to spend time on things like this, because it becomes a mad frenzy of finding the “right” thing – I swear that toy companies and some other stores only produce a limited amount of things to feed this frenzy and make the season so overwhelming. If you have every been that parent that couldn’t find that ONE THING on your child’s Christmas list because the stores were all sold out, then you know the level of disappointment that comes with it. I remember one year one of the boys wanted a remote controlled car which we bought but what we didn’t realize was that it needed a special battery that it didn’t come with. We were out at Walgreens at 11pm on Christmas eve trying to find one, but of course we couldn’t/. Even though we had bought the gift, the fact that he wasn’t going to be able to play with it until we went to Toys R Us the day after Christmas was enough to cause mass disappointment 🙁

One thing I have really been guilty of is neglecting myself and running around like a crazy person, so when Christmas morning comes and the kids are so excited to get up and open gifts, I am totally exhausted and partly checked out. Seems kind of crazy to do this to myself, especially when Christmas morning is the reward for all the hard work…but it has definitely been done by this girl!

This year I have resolved to get this more organized, but most importantly to take care of myself while I am taking care of others. Any of you guilty of this? You know when the flight attendants tell you to put on YOUR oxygen mask BEFORE helping anyone else…well that applies. In fact, Brandon was talking to a pilot who told him that if you don’t put on the mask first, there is a really good chance that you will pass out and unless someone puts a mask on you, then you’ll probably die. Crazy – I know this is a metaphor, but this goes way beyond self care. It can be so detrimental to our wellbeing to not take care of ourselves because we are too busy taking care of others.

 

 

Over recent years I have become much better at this, and I am able to set boundaries for certain things so that I am not neglecting myself. I started small, just picking one thing that was a “non-negotiable” thing that I was going to do. What I mean by that is, I found one thing that was so important to me, that no matter what, I was going to make sure that I did it. The one thing that I do almost every day is take a relaxing soak in my bath. It probably only takes around 20 minutes, but after those 20 minutes, I feel different. I feel important, I feel loved (by myself) and I am able to tackle so much more. Meditation could be your thing, it could be having lunch with a friend…whatever it is, I promise if you find something and start small, you will enjoy the holidays so much more!

 

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Stress Less for the Holidays

“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another!”

 

Have you ever noticed that the Holidays are not always a time of relaxation?  That sometimes we over-commit ourselves, that we create unrealistic expectations about how things are going to look or just push ourselves too hard?

I used to end up exhausted and almost depressed after a holiday.  All that went into creating the “perfect” meal, planning, cooking & setting up, seemed to drain me to the point of not wanting to do anything the days following other than sit & read or watch TV.  I know what happened to me, and it’s been a process of overcoming and dealing with it over the years, and now I am at the point where I can actually enjoy my time.

Here’s what I did – I created an image in my mind about how I thought the meal was going to look.  Sometimes even going far enough to contemplate the conversations we would have, the games we would play, the movies we would watch and so on.  As you can imagine, especially when you have a large group of people to have something so orchestrated is impossible – which would leave me frustrated and feeling down.  It’s not something that I did consciously but I had some thoughts and memories from my childhood and beyond that I wanted to recreate.  The problem with that is that my brain was making those memories look far more amazing than they probably were, and certainly more amazing than it was going to be possible for me to force people to recreate.

Do you ever find yourself trying to control things to the point of creating such unrealistic expectations that no matter what happens because it doesn’t look exactly right, you feel defeated because it’s not perfect?  Saying this out loud and writing it today makes me even more aware how ridiculous it is to do this, but that doesn’t mean that while it was happening it didn’t feel 100% real.

I have used various techniques to put me in touch with my body and what I am feeling, and some work better than others.  I wanted to share one with you today that I have found works pretty well for me:

Name your feelings

Close your eyes.  Let your mind wander into the different parts of your body and check in to see how it feels right now.  What thoughts are going on in your head?  Observe, don’t analyze.  When you are connected to how your body feels, ask yourself:  what is this feeling called?
Observe the feeling in peace and name it.  You can also ask yourself if there is something causing that feeling.
By recognizing and naming your feelings you will start to feel ease from the lump of stress you might have had in your body.  

According to the Mayo clinic, stress is the Number one cause of cancer in the US today – and if we subject ourselves to levels of stress during times when things are meant to be spent appreciating what we’re grateful for, then it kind of defeats the purpose.

I am planning on making a lovely meal for my family, spending time and doing “whatever we feel like” rather than trying to control the entire weekend.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!  What do you have planned?

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Enjoy Christmas

“In order to love who you are, you can’t hate the experiences that shaped you!”

 

One of the biggest problems with Christmas or the Holidays is that it causes major stress, and we end up just rushing blindly trying to accomplish way too many things, that by the time Christmas day comes, we are frazzled and not enjoying ourselves.

 

I remember when I moved over to the U.S. from England and celebrated my first Christmas here, I loved all the lovely lights, decorations, trees and how much everyone seemed to get into the spirit.  We hardly ever had homes decorated with lights outside and not everyone even put up a tree.  What I realized is that Christmas has become very commercial and we don’t pause to enjoy the opportunity our families and the true meaning of Christmas.  Even if you are not a religious person, having a holiday that is centered around “giving” rather than “receiving” is something I love to teach my children about.  We celebrate Boxing Day which is the day after Christmas and it is a National Holiday in England.  It originated when the Noble class would box up their unwanted things and deliver them to the poor.  Now it is just another reason to have a day off and spend time with friends and family, and I am sure there are a lot of people that are not even sure of the origin.

 

So, when Christmas Day was over on my first year here, and the next day everyone went back to work and I even saw some Christmas trees discarded or put away.  It seemed like such an anti-climax and I was very disappointed.  It was at that moment that I decided I was going to continue some traditions with my family and focus on “giving” and spending time together.

 

Even if you don’t have traditions that give you an extra day off, or you are running around crazily trying to finish up some last minute shopping, planning meals, or travel…I have always found that if I just pause and take a small amount of time to contemplate what I have in my life that I am grateful for, it always makes Christmas that much more satisfying for me.  It allows me to focus on feeling good feelings and let in love, and gratitude.

 

If you take the time to relax a little more and enjoy some Christmas spirit, I am sure you will enjoy the Holiday season so much more and not feel like it went by too quickly or that it was very under-whelming.

Most importantly, as you head into 2018 don’t look back and dwell on things you can’t change, only look forward to the great things you want to accomplish!

 

Happy Christmas or however you welcome in the season…

Michelle
XOXO

 

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Over Indulgence during the Holidays

 

“What you do every day matters more than what you do every once in a while!”

 

The holidays are filled with cheer but they are also filled with rich foods, chocolate, candy, treats, and very often some cocktails or alcohol.  So how do you make sure that all the hard work you put into keeping your body trim and healthy this year isn’t lost in just a few weeks.

 

Long walks and runs outside are kind of hard in the winter here in Utah, the cold is bitter and the inversion makes it unhealthy to breath too much of that air.  Exercise requires a lot of commitment and with the “to do” lists that seem to get longer every day, it is so hard that sometimes it gets put off or just missed. 

 

Good chocolate is one of my weaknesses, and it seems like “just one” always leads to another!  Salads don’t seem as appealing and seem to be replaced with more warm dishes like soups, chilli, and baked potatoes, all of which are much more substantial and have a higher caloric value.

 

 

So how do you make sure that by the time the holidays are over, you are not going to roll into the New Year?  Here are some tactics that I use, and they have always worked for me…

  1. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have a treat, but rather ration how many you have.  If you tell yourself you can’t or that you can only have carrots, or some alternative that isn’t anywhere near as good, you will rebel against yourself and end up eating more than if you let yourself have one or two!
  2. Want a dessert?  Go for it, but again ration how much you have.  Portion control has always been something that I have exercised.  I like to try lots of different things, and always make sure that I balance my meals with the right amount of vegetables, protein, fats and carbs (I don’t ever avoid carbs because I need them for energy).
  3. Allow yourself one or two “cheat days” each week, that way you don’t have to feel guilty or bad about anything you are eating.
  4. Dedicate 20 minutes every other day even if it is just at home to do a few exercises like lunges, squats, crunches, and curls.  I even do a few each night while I am waiting for my bath or while I am watching my latest DVR TV show.
  5. Drink a fresh squeezed veggie drink at least once a week, to balance out the not so good stuff you may have eaten or drunk all week.

 

The holidays should be a fun time and beating yourself up or telling yourself NO is not going to make it enjoyable!  If you are not creating long term bad habits it’s really not going to hurt you just for a few weeks, but it is definitely still better to be in control.  Enjoy your holidays and remember, moderation is key!

 

Happy Holidays…

 

Holiday Stress Relief Tips

 

“Our greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose one thought over another!”

As you can imagine with all that is going on during the holidays our stress level can multiply sometimes to the point that it can cause depression and stress…

There is always going to be an overwhelming list of things to accomplish, and if you have kids that list seems to grow even more.  Things we can’t control are sometimes going to take over our thoughts and cause us to feel like we are like a hamster running on a wheel.  I have always prided myself in being organized, but during the holiday season sometimes all the best intentions can make no difference. Finding the “perfect” gift, planning meals, parties and get-together’s can start to build on each other to the point of us suddenly having a mountain to climb!

 

 

Finding ways to handle stress and take some things in your stride are some of the ways to achieve a more peaceful and calm holiday season…here are some others to help you focus on the good things about the season rather than all the overwhelming things we need to do:

  1. Be realistic.  It’s OK if the holidays aren’t “perfect” or the same as they were last year.  I don’t know about you but my family is in an entirely different place and a lot of things have happened that will make our Christmas different (not worse) than last year.  I have a son that has his own apartment now, and our home is different, but that’s OK!  The key here is to not compare or create expectations about how you think something should look.  Circumstances change, your family is not the same as anyone else’s, and creating a vision in your head about how something should be is only going to cause you to feel disappointment because things NEVER go exactly as we would like them to – in fact, sometimes different than you imagined can be better!
  2. Stick to a budget.  This is one we implemented this year, mainly because after looking back we had created too much entitlement, and wanted to refocus our family’s thoughts onto what is really important – and that is people not stuff!  Christmas has become far too commercial, and it’s almost a competition with yourself to outdo what you did the previous year.  We realized that it wasn’t necessary to get carried away when we saw some gifts that our kids had been given that were still unopened in the basement and their lives were still going just as smoothly without those things! Giving gifts can be a way to show love and appreciation, but it’s not the only way we can show it.
    Spending time together is also an amazing way to show and be shown love and appreciation.
  3. Learn to say no.  This is a big one for me, I always like to do as many things as I can with friends and family.  Sometimes it just isn’t feasible because schedules conflict and the whole point is to not overwhelm yourself but to enjoy people’s company and time.  It can also be said for doing things for people as well…I had a phone call from my son yesterday wanting me to help him make some food items so he could sell them to raise money for his upcoming Humanitarian trip.  Of course I agreed, and ended up making these last night right before bed, which left me feeling a little flustered and tired.  I made sure he was helping, but it was something I really didn’t have the energy to do last night. What I should have done instead was either give him instructions on how to make them, or tell him to wait until I had more energy.  I felt sucked in to the situation and wanted to help him, so didn’t feel like I could say no.  I am sure you have all experienced similar situations, and the hard part is to know when and how to say no.  In order for us to serve anyone, we have to be able to serve ourselves, and that is by knowing not to overwhelm ourselves with too many things to do!
  4. Plan ahead.  We are definitely nearing the home stretch of this holiday season so this one is actually going to become harder.  The stores are going to become busier and we are going to have less and less time to plan things.  However, if you can set aside a certain time and day to do things, you will not feel like you are scrambling to find last minute gifts or make last minute treats.  I don’t do so well if I am not organized, so this is one of the most important ones for me.  I like to have gifts bought and wrapped, neighbor gifts delivered, and food purchased so that I can make sure I am not wasting my time worrying about things I have not done yet.  Write lists, put things on your calendar and stick as closely as you can to them to minimize any overwhelm.
  5. Take some time.  No matter who you are, everyone needs a little time to recuperate, time is of the essence, so taking a few minutes to relax and decompress is very important.  Some of my favorite ways to relax are:  taking a bath, reading, taking the dog for a walk, and getting a pedicure or massage.  Just one of these small things could be the difference between waking up on Christmas morning frazzled or raring to go.  I always tell my boys (including Brandon) that their hugs give me energy, so I make them hug me for 20 seconds…as they do this, my muscles relax, my shoulders are no longer hunched and my frown fades.  I can physically feel that transfer of energy to me, and sometimes that is all it takes.

 

The Mayo Clinic has put out research about stress and the holidays and it is their recommendation that we take care of ourselves, because if we don’t, then we are no use to anyone else.

 

Take that time for YOU…

 

What if you just went into the holidays with no expectations and had an open mind…what could that do?

 

I don’t know about you, but this year, I am focused on my family, our love and feeling gratitude for all that I have!

 

 


Holiday Styling with Satin

“They can imitate your style but they can’t imitate your creativity!”

 

Following on from my previous post “Mixing Fabrics“…there are some that are must haves for Holiday parties or events.  You know, those fabrics that just call to you and as soon as you put them on you know you look good.

 

One of those fabrics is satin…it is such a feminine fabric, it is versatile and finally it is just stunning.  You may notice the booties in this post as being Pink, but the fact that they are satin makes them even more amazing.  The disco pants are also satin and because they are so stretchy they are very flattering – which is perfect for a Holiday party or event.  I see a lot of really cute dresses around this time of year, and that seems to be what everyone likes to wear for parties, but I like to change things up and put my own stamp on my outfit.  You can just as stunning in a great satin pant outfit as you can wearing a dress.

 

If you are not sure about disco pants like these because they seem a little too form fitting or edgy, then you can add a feminine top or sweater, like the ruffle one I am wearing, or if you want something a little longer add a kimono (see link below) with a simple top underneath.  Just because all the stores are pushing “Holiday dresses” doesn’t mean that is your only choice.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that you shouldn’t wear one, just try some other options as well. 🙂

 

One of the biggest challenges when shopping for a specific fabric or color is knowing where to look, or if you buy online, which stores have great quality clothing.  With that being said, I have put some of my top satin styles and colors below and the great news is that you still have plenty of time to order before Christmas!