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loving fiercely | teaching audaciously | thinking deeply
Posted on April 25, 2015 by Jennifer Wolfe
photo credit: Better Future Ahead Sky via photopin (license)
photo credit: Things Will Be Fine via photopin (license)
Posted on March 18, 2015 by Jennifer Wolfe
Big Changes and Greater Happiness: How To Live a Wholehearted Life
“Everyone chases after happiness, not noticing that happiness is right at their heels.”
What is it you want out of life? Are you chasing around for happiness each day, searching everywhere but inside yourself? Are you pausing to breathe, to take in the ordinary in the extraordinary that is right in front of you? Are you creating YOUR story, or living out someone else’s version of your life? Are you living a wholehearted life, or feeling like there must be more but you’re just not sure how to make the change? Are you happy?
If you find yourself asking these questions on a regular basis, I have one suggestion: get a copy of Susyn Reeve’s brand new book, The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week. Don’t wait another moment – order it right now, right here. You won’t be sorry.
As I’m moving into the second half-century of life, I’m noticing more and more frequently the questions that pop up in my mind – and how they are different than the ones I asked myself in my twenties, my thirties, or even last year. Less and less I find myself worrying about the external forces that impact my world, and more and more I’m concerned about how I impact my own world. Questions about how what I do changes myself, my children and my students visit me much more frequently than questions about why someone or something might have exerted some action or influence. I realize how little control I have over anything or anyone besides myself, and how useless it is to get caught up in the cycle of wishing or hoping or willing change. The only way towards change, I’ve found, is to start within.
That’s where the appeal of The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week comes in. Created over years as a self-esteem expert, master coach, corporate consultant, interfaith minister and award-winning author, Susyn Reeve has lovingly and carefully crafted a handbook-of-sorts to guide us through a weekly quest for mindfulness. This isn’t necessarily the type of book that needs to be started January 1 and then maintained on a rigorous daily schedule. Instead, The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week allows the reader to move around at ones own pace. If you like reading from start to finish, perfect. Prefer to take it weekly? No problem. Are you like me, and enjoy a daily dose of mindfulness each morning? Easy. And if life gets in the way, no worries. This book allows for multiple access points.
In her “How To Use This Book” chapter, the author compares using this book to ‘install(ing) a software upgrade in your mind, creat(ing) a personal ritual that nourishes wholehearted living in your daily life, and stock(ing) your personal medicine bag with remedies, tools, charms, and reminders to continually expand your capacity for wholehearted living.” I love that analogy of a software upgrade – my brain consistently feels like I have dozens of browser tabs open and scrolling at any moment! As a teacher-mom, I’m always harping about the need for ‘tools’ to navigate the world-and rarely do I think about replenishing my own toolbox.
The Wholehearted Life: Big Changes and Greater Happiness Week By Week consists of fifty-two ideas, organized with daily activities for each week. As a writer and wordsmith, I love Susyn’s incorporation of thought-provoking quotes from writers as diverse as Erma Bombeck, to the Dalai Lama, to Anne Lamott. A scan of the table of contents shows Week 1 beginning with “The Law of Attraction” – which inspired an upcoming blog post – and ending with Week 52’s “Celebrate Success”. I confess I did skip to the finish to read the last section, titled “Putting It All Together – Creating a Bag Of Tricks”-I always like to begin with the end in mind, and it made me all the more excited about what I’d discover in between.
If you’re looking to discover more, if you want to create happiness and get more out of this journey by living a wholehearted life, this book should be on your bedside table. Trust me – you’re worth it.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes; all links are affiliate links.
Posted on March 10, 2015 by Jennifer Wolfe
That time of year is sneaking up on us again…when we are drowning in celebrations and occasions and oozing with smiles and happiness. A time when introverts like me hardly know what to do with ourselves, let alone what to say when we’re put on the spot. The right words usually come to me at the wrong time – about sixty seconds AFTER the fact!
Help is here! No longer will you be sweating the public speaking, or kicking yourself for thinking of that witty one-liner just a little too late. The recently published book, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion by June Cotner and Nancy Tupper Ling answers every anxiety ridden thought you might have about what to say, when to say it, and how to walk away feeling like you nailed it.
Toasts was a long time coming; author June Cotner worked on the compilation of quotes and sayings for nearly a decade before connecting with writer Nancy Tupper Ling. Together they compiled words for every occasion – a peek inside offers everything from a guide to toasting (remember to introduce yourself), etiquette basics (thank the host, make eye contact, go out strong), and a plethora of delicious words for any occasion.
As a verified ‘word nerd’, I’ve long kept journals of my own ideas, as well as of poetry, quotes, and other assorted lists of things I know I’ll never remember. One aspect of Toasts that I particularly like is the ability to use lines from a variety of well-known and yet-to-be known writers even when I’m not standing in front of a crowd. For example, in the “Birthdays” chapter, I might use an adaptation from William Butler Yeats, “In every succeeding year, may you sing more than you weep” when writing about my children growing up. Found in the “Charity” chapter, Thomas L. Reid’s quote, “May we realize that the best exercise for our hear is bending down and lifting up others” is perfect for my stories of working in Nicaragua. And in “Pets”, George Eliot’s words connect completely with writing about my dog, Cola: “Animals are such agreeable friends-they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.”
Toasts has something for all the common toasting occasions: for school or camp reunions (is your high school 30th creeping up on you?), to guests and hosts, and high school and college graduations (“You’ve earned your degree, You’ve made the grade, Success will be yours, once your loans are paid” – ugh, does that hit home!). Family reunions (we have a big one in August-and this year, I’ll be ready!), weddings, and memorials each fill a chapter, too. But Toasts also offers some surprises: four chapters devoted to children, children’s blessings (“May you be blessed by your dreams, and the courage to chase them” – ooh, I’m writing that one down!), children’s graces and children’s toasts (those would have come in handy about 20 years ago when I was surrounded by pregnant friends!), homecoming (yes-my college student should make an appearance in June!), patriotic toasts (Grand ‘ole flag party?), and 16 different holidays (May your neighbors respect you, trouble neglect you, the angels protect you, and heaven accept you – gotta love the Irish!).
Whether you’re an anxious first time toaster, a seasoned speaker who needs new material, or an introverted writer searching for inspiration, Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion, is the perfect compilation for you. Perfect words to celebrate life, love, and the extraordinary in the ordinary.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Toasts: The Perfect Words to Celebrate Every Occasion for review purposes. These are affiliate links.
Posted on January 5, 2015 by Jennifer Wolfe
“All successful people men and women are big dreamers. They imagine what their future could be, ideal in every respect, and then they work every day toward their distant vision, that goal or purpose.”
~ Brian Tracy
It’s the beginning of the year, and everywhere we turn are stories of resolution – it’s impossible to escape people’s heartfelt testimonies to how they want their lives to change, to grow, to improve. People are imagining the life they want to live.
I’m not a New Year’s Resolution kind of person – to me, resolutions are just a trendy way to acknowledge all the things people might think they’re not doing ‘right’ in their life – and most often, resolutions don’t resolve into anything but added stress and disappointment.
I think most of us have an inkling of the life we’d like to live, but often we don’t know how to get there. We think if we resolve to check off this list of 10 or 20 or 100 things, we’ll be there. Life will be….perfect? In my experience, though, by the time we get everything – or nearly everything – checked off, life has changed, added more complications, and we wake up and realize in the quest for ‘perfect’ we’ve lost the present, and are likely in a similar place to where we began.
I’m an intention kind of girl. I like to think small to think big – and think about what I intend to do in any period of time. I do love to-do lists, but I also love the quiet and stillness required to imagine, to create, to inspire myself to live the life I dream of – and to muster the courage to do so.
This is one of the reasons I was drawn to Peg Conley’s new book, Imagine The Life You’d Love To Live, Then Live It: 52 Inspired habits and playful prompts. Peg is an artist-turned-corporate-worker-turned-writer-back-to-artist kind of woman. According to her publishing website, mid-life, she listened to “ a nagging feeling that life might hold something else in the midst of it all. Then came a big breakthrough—(she) founded a successful, art-centered company based on the advice of her inner voice: “
Peg’s journey inspired her book, which is divided up into 52 weekly chapters full of an idea, application, quotes and advice about how to intentionally create the life that we’ve been wanting. Starting with Chapter One, Peg shares her personal story of change and then asks the reader to ‘imagine’ their ideal life – either by writing, drawing, collaging or dreaming it. Designed to be read one chapter per week, Peg offers ideas as varied as “Write With Your Nondominant Hand”, to “Look For Magic and Miracles”, to “Act ‘As If’”, “Get A Massage”, and “Look for ‘Meant To Be’s”.
One of my favorite chapters, “Give Thanks”, reminds us of the importance of gratitude in our lives. She shares statistical information as well as anecdotal, expounding her idea that showing gratitude should be more than just something we do on Thanksgiving – it should be a regular practice. I also enjoyed her chapter, “It’s the Little Things”, which assert our shared belief that we should remember to celebrate the small moments in life, the times which might be neglected on our push towards our goals.
I challenge you – make 2015 the year you set an intention to dream about the life you want to live. Think big, dream daily, and pick up a copy of Peg Conley’s book, Imagine the Life You’d Love to Live, Then Live It: 52 Inspired Habits and Playful Prompts for an extra nudge.
Posted on November 11, 2014 by Jennifer Wolfe
Gratitude is trending. In less than a second I can find nearly 400,000 hits for #gratitude on Google. Twitter is alive with posts about gratitude, everything from people’s 5 Things A Day, ways to teach our kids gratitude, and celebrities like Oprah reminding us to “never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”
It’s everywhere. How could we miss it? How could we not feel it around us, a never ending reminder that life is good and we should be grateful?
On Facebook we’re grateful for leaves changing color, for veterans and our loving husbands. Some folks are grateful for their ‘amazing’ main course or dessert, for their adorable kids and dogs, and for…gratitude itself. For the awareness, finally, that life is worth shouting out about.
If you’re inspired by stories of gratitude – stories by REAL people experiencing the transformative power of gratitude – you should put The Grateful Life: The Secret to Happiness and the Science of Contentment on your reading list. Written by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons (I reviewed their last book, What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail), The Grateful Life offers tips and inspirational stories from people just like you and me who have experienced the benefits of living mindfully and with an awareness of the blessings in our lives.
Each of the ten chapters offers several short vignettes accompanied by sidebar tidbits, all centered around a theme. The book starts with Chapter One’s “How Gratitude and Intentional Behavior Move to Our Hearts, Creating Blessings in Our Lives” and sidebars “The Network for Grateful Living” and “Gratitude Prayer”, and ends with Chapter Ten’s theme of “The Secret to a Gratitude Makeover: How to Create Gratitude Practices That Stick” and sidebars about Jimmy Fallon’s Thank You Lessons, Writing Thank You Cards, and tips about how to bring more gratitude into your life.
I’ve experienced the power of gratitude first hand, as have millions of people. When my son was faced with a broken leg last summer and saw his ski racing dreams severely compromised, we got through the hardest hours by rattling off three gratitudes – and we made it. Life will always get better, but sometimes we need to take a little pause and give ourselves time and permission to remember that.
The Grateful Life: The Secret to Happiness and the Science of Contentment can offer just that – a reminder that in sharing our stories of the benefits of gratitude as told by people just like us, we can begin to live a life of more contentment, gratefulness and transformation.
To read more about the book, visit their website: http://www.vivaeditions.com/book_page.php?book_id=85.
p.s. – did you read my previous posts about gratitude? Deep Gratitude, Thanks, Coach, For the Life Lessons, and Broken?
I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.