A Tree Tells a Story

We each may have our holiday traditions this time of year and our family is no exception. Growing up, it was so exciting to get out the Christmas decorations and transform our home into a festive site with colors of reds and greens prominently displayed. Santa Clause, reindeer, candy canes, mistletoe, Christmas wreaths and candles which smelled of fresh cut pine. Christmas music was in the air as I delightfully danced and sang to Andy Williams’ Christmas Album playing on our old 38 record player. It was “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”, indeed.

While the old 38 record player is gone and CD’s, iTunes and mp3’s have taken its place, I still delightfully dance and sing to Andy Williams’ Christmas Album each year. It will forever be my favorite Christmas music and each time I listen to it, I am again transported to a special place in time – picturing myself as a little girl and feeling the excitement of Christmas.

Another special tradition each year was putting up the Christmas tree. Our trees have changed throughout the years, as well. Early on we had live trees and soon realized what a pain the mess was to clean up! For most of the years, we had an artificial tree which seemed to expand in size each time we bought a new one. My dad worked tirelessly to untangle the lights and shape the tree to perfection. Each year he would say, “I’m not doing this again next year!” And of course, next year rolled around and he engaged in the process all over again.

No longer do we have the sparkly garland surrounding the tree and the different color lights have been replaced by white lights to fit the “traditional” look these days. What never went away since I was a baby girl, however, were the ornaments that filled the tree.

Our Christmas Tree told a story. Each ornament brought back a special memory, whether it was a place my mom and I visited, a childhood friend, my time in Brownie’s and Girl Scouts, church friends in Paducah, hobbies our family has had throughout the years, and special, special remembrances of my Grandmother and Granddad who have since passed. We have collected these ornaments, these stories, each year – some of them nearly 50 years old. They are true and simple treasures.

It is the simplicity of them all that touch my heart. A simple gift of love – an ornament – that can flood you with enduring memories.

We will not have that particular tree up this year as my family is coming to our place for Christmas. While I will miss that tree and the stories those ornaments tell, we will have a smaller tree with ornaments we have collected the past eight years. They also have their own stories and we are continuing the tradition.

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the commercialism and stressful moments of the Season that we forget to take time and appreciate the simple gifts around us. What simple tradition do you treasure? Let it fill your heart with gratitude and joy and experience the wonder of Christmas.


Time Management: What would you do if you had an extra hour?

How many times have we said, “If there were just more hours in a day then I could get everything done I want to get done.”?  What are those “things”?  In the ideal world, how many hours in a day would that require to get everything accomplished?

Sometimes it takes doing an inventory of exactly how we are spending our time.  What activities are we prioritizing over others?  For most, perhaps it is the thought that there are so many priorities in our life that it becomes overwhelming.  When that happens, it is beneficial to take an inventory of how we are spending our time.  What are your time wasters?  Spending time on social media?  Feeling that you must respond to an email immediately?  Watching television?  Reading/watching the news?  Now don’t get me wrong – I’m all about being informed.  The question is – how much does it take to be informed?

Perhaps it is mindlessly surfing the internet or spending time with people who are not bringing value in your relationships.  Maybe it is spending time wanting to please other people in your life instead of focusing on yourself.  Or getting bogged down in decision-making because you strive to be perfect before taking action to move forward.

It can be many of these things.  If you are facing challenges on wanting more hours in the day, an action is to take an honest inventory of how you are spending your time.  Track it.  Look at it.  When you do, ask yourself this question – “Is what I’m doing now bringing value and moving me forward in the areas I want in my life?”  You may be amazed at the time wasters in your life.

Each of us has different priorities in our lives.  What is important for you?

For tips, tools and resources on time management, give me a shout.

p.s.  For those of us in the States, most of us are “falling back” this weekend and gain that extra hour.  How do YOU want to spend that extra hour this weekend?


A Bike Ride

I went on a bike ride this morning and noticed a few things about joy.  Generally, my bike ride is 45 minutes long consisting of three 15-minute loops around the neighborhood.  The first two laps, I focus on cycling as fast as I can and then the last lap is my “joy ride” with the intention of being free-spirited.

Today, I realized that the first two laps were a struggle.  My thoughts became negative.  “Ugh, here comes that big hill again.”  “Why can’t the wind be coming from my back side as I’m going up the hill rather than giving me resistance?”  “Boy, my butt sure does hurt!”  “How much longer do I have to go???”

By the end of the second lap, I almost called it quits because I was tired and didn’t think I could make it another round.  Then I thought, “Well, I will just go a few more minutes and experience my joy ride.”  My thinking became focused on the joy of riding the bike and not the work of the workout.  I weaved in and out down the road, a smile came to my face as I felt the wind against my skin and my butt even stopped hurting!   I started remembering how much fun I had as a little kid riding my pink Huffy bike in the neighborhood – popping wheelies and showing off in front of the other kids.  Before I knew it, I had completed the third lap.

The difference was a change of thinking.  I changed my mindset from one of struggle to one of joy.

What if we lived our lives every day waking up with the mindset of joy?  How much smoother would our ride be?  How would that influence others around us to live with joy in their hearts?  How would our worlds, both personally and professionally, be changed?

If you are interested in experiencing joy for yourself, give me a shout.  Enjoy the ride!