The Little Things: What was Your Life Made of This Year?

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“I’m not sure why, but when a person expects something to last forever, they don’t notice the little things. It’s only when the clock is ticking all those little things add up and become bigger.” Shannon Wiersbitzky, What Flowers Remember

As the year winds down I am so acutely aware of each minute that ticks by. I take stock of what the aging year has produced and what hope the New Year holds. I think about what I’ve learned, hoping that I have learned a lot of things. I think about how much better off I am now than one year ago and I don’t mean in terms of money. What I truly mean is in terms of personal growth and life experiences, which to me is so much more than money. It’s the little moments of my life this year that I hope made the biggest impact on my soul and then I think if I can remember all of those little moments maybe they were the big things after all.

“Life is not made up of minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, or years, but of moments. You must experience each one before you can appreciate it.” Sarah Ban Breathnach

In the spirit of honoring the year as it takes its final bow out of time I would like to leave you with a few of the moments/memories that have left an imprint on my soul. A trusted colleague calls this his annual review. It’s made up of the very personal good and bad moments that made this year stand tall.

Perhaps you have had similar experiences but never thought to really pay them much heed or perhaps you will take these shared moments and watch for them in the new year or perhaps we are all on the same journey through time sharing similar experiences in our own unique perspective. Whichever way you honor the good and the bad of your life moments I hope you are better for them.

The most recent life moment I absolutely honor with grace and awe is the time spent celebrating my daughter’s birthday. It wasn’t a milestone birthday but it was a celebration of her birth nonetheless and that in itself deserves to make the list of little things.

“So much of life is in the smallness of moments…but they are harder to mark. So we need the grander celebrations and occasions. People like to feel significant.” Ally Condie, Atlantia

Glancing over at the large picture window in my office and stopping everything to go sit in the sunshine streaming through.

“As the years pass, I am coming more and more to understand that it is the common, everyday blessings of our common everyday lives for which we should be particularly grateful. Just plain food that gives us strength; the bright sunshine on a cold day; and a cool breeze when the day is warm.” Laura Ingalls Wilder, Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder – Volume One: On Wisdom and Virtues

Meeting new people and realizing that their impact on my life, be it good or bad, changed me for the better.

“That’s the ideal meeting…once upon a time, only once, unexpectedly, then never again.” Helen Oyeyemi

Seeing a hummingbird for the first time in my life.

“Some of my old memories feel trapped in amber in my brain, lucid and burning, while others are like the wing beat of a hummingbird, an intangible, ephemeral blur.” Mira Bartok, The Memory Palace

Silently celebrating the day after the first day of winter because for the next 182 days we add one minute of daylight and hope blooms eternal.

“I find it inspiring to actively choose which traditions to celebrate and also come up with new ideas for traditions of my own.” Sara Sheridan

Sitting at my favorite coffee shop enjoying the smell while sipping my green tea and writing. I am not a coffee drinker at all but I love a good, old-fashioned, wrap me in warmth coffee shop.

“A smoke, a book, a cup of coffee. These are the little things that get us through this sometimes weary world and all the rainy days.” R.M. Engelhardt, The Resurrection Waltz Poems R.M. Engelhardt

Window shopping in the winter and seeing all the beautiful colors of the flowers in the flower shop on the most gray, snowy day of the season.

“Somehow, those cold, lifeless winter months had prepared the land for something breathtaking. Something beautiful. Something brimming with life.” Katie Ganshert, Wildflowers from Winter

Laughing so hard when I’m supposed to be as quiet as a mouse. Whether it be at my job at the library as an adult or a teenager sitting in my English class I find that those quiet moments are the ones that really spark my uncontrollable laughter.

“Laughter is the shortest distance between two people.” Victor Borge

Hearing the perfect song at a time of day when I needed it most.

“Songs remain. They last. The right song can turn an emperor into a laughing-stock, can bring down dynasties. A song can last long after the events and the people in it are dust and dreams are gone. That’s the power of songs.” Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Raising my level of gratitude so much higher than I ever imagined it could go but battling still with moments of unhappiness.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good.” Maya Angelou, Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer

Understanding the lessons in why it’s important to make quality decisions but not yet feeling able to make important decisions in my own life.

“The problem, simply put, is that we cannot choose everything simultaneously. So we live in danger of becoming paralyzed by indecision, terrified that every choice might be the wrong choice.” Elizabeth Gilbert, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage

Continuing to worry about the same problems year after year and finding it so hard to let it go or finding a solution.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” – Matthew 6:25-34 ― Anonymous, Holy Bible: King James Version

Thank you for your indulgence with my annual review of the little things. I hope it sparked something inside of you to help you take stock of your life this year and highlight what you want to work on and grow in the New Year.

Call to Action

How possible is it to mine each new day of the new year for little life moments, for the little things that flavor life with its sweetness? That is the call to action for you. Find the little things in each new day of the New Year and see how it changes you for the better.

What went well this year?

What did not go well this year?

Where does growth reside for you in the New Year?

What little things became the big thing after all?

10 reasons why those last 5 minutes of the party are so amazing

“If you limit your choices only to what seems possible or reasonable, you disconnect yourself from what you truly want, and all that is left is a compromise. “ – Robert Fritz

If you limit your choices to only attend the party but not engage in conversation because you don’t know anyone anyway, that seems reasonable because at least you are at the party. If you attend the party but act disconnected from what is going on around you the compromise remains that at least you went to the party. What is the truth you are not willing to admit?

The truth is that you really want to engage with others, converse, participate, make new acquaintances or dare I say, friends but you are paralyzed by fear and self-doubt and nothing good can come from being in a room full of people you don’t know so why make any effort?

“It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.” –Seneca

It is a new year. No doubt you were in a similar or very near social situation during the holiday season. How did you do? What leap forward did you make so that you pushed the boundaries of difficulty? The real question is what happened during the last 5 minutes of the party?

Invariably the last 5 minutes of any social gathering is always the most fun, or the most engaging or the most entertaining leaving you with a feeling something like, ”oh I wish I could have felt this open and comfortable when I arrived.” Instead of beating yourself up over what didn’t happen sooner or what might have been if only……. Let’s take a look at what did happen and how great it was for you to be there.

  1.   You went to the party. Celebrate the fact that you took action on something instead of doing nothing. Most likely you didn’t want to go but felt obligated to go in some way. You did it for reputation sake or for the sake of someone else but you went. Your senses were on high alert. At first you only felt the discomfort of being out of place, of not wanting to be there, of thinking about all of the things you could be doing instead, etc. “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” –Anais Nin. You showed great perspective in your choice. “Experience is not what happens to a man; it is what a man does with what happens to him.” – Aldous Huxley. Good job!!

2.    Somewhere along the way through this social situation the playing field started to feel a bit more level and balanced. Perhaps people were more relaxed around you because they were drinking, perhaps they were making up stories about you in their own minds and started to become fascinated with meeting you so they approached you first, perhaps they were just good at networking and so meeting someone new was a great opportunity for them. What you probably noticed without realizing it was that you started to flow with whatever was happening and let your mind be free. You stayed centered by accepting whatever you were doing. This is the ultimate in recognizing or acting in balance.” –Chuang Tzu. I wonder what would happen at social gatherings such as a party if everyone in the room acted as if they were the host?

3.     You’ve all had dinner and have had a chance to meet new people and relax a bit. You probably did a little check in with yourself about whether you would want to get someone’s number, deepen an acquaintance, or leave the way you came, feeling like this was a waste of time. What is really happening here is the voice inside of you asking whether you have the courage to make something happen. Will you stand still and let moments go by, will you explore your curiosities and start a conversation, will you walk out the door at the end of the night and for a little while feel triumphant because at least you were at the party only to realize days later that you should have been more bold and courageous and gotten so-and-so’s number. “In their daily life, all are braver than they know.” –Henry David Thoreau. Consider yourself to have been brave simply because you showed up. What else can you remember about that night that would fall in the category of bravery and courage?

4.     I can almost guarantee that at some point you felt bored with the situation you were in but something small sparked your curiosity. Someone said something that surprised you, someone made a spectacle of themselves, or someone performed that sent shivers down your spine. “The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.” –Ellen Parr. What grabbed you so fiercely that your curiosity was peaked and your imagination took over? How did your curiosity open doors for you that night? Curiosity is to be celebrated because you opened yourself up to learn and discover and recognize something that might have stayed illusive and hidden forever. Go you!!

5.     Even though you started out not wanting to be at this social event the bottom line is that you attended. You showed great courage but also great kindness. It might have been a more wise decision to just stay home or go out with other friends but wisdom took over. “Kindness is more important than wisdom, and the recognition of this is the beginning of wisdom.” –Theodore Isaac Rubin. Are you sitting a little taller right now for not even realizing what a great thing it is you did and how the impression you left behind could work in your favor?

6.    Let’s say the evening was a disaster just as you thought it would be. Does that make the experience a failure? “To acknowledge you were wrong yesterday is to acknowledge you are wiser today. “ –Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Sure, you can feel a little embarrassed about your behavior but wouldn’t it be more productive to take what you did and learn from it for the next time? Make a vow to be better in the future whether it be in disposition, behavior, engagement or kindness. A failure isn’t a failure if you learned something right away.

7.    Let’s recognize the perseverance you showed in attending this social soiree by meeting new people, by conversing about nothing important, by tolerating the food, by understanding why you gave up doing something else and attended this gathering instead.  If I have belief that I can do it, I shall surely acquire the capacity to do it even if I may not have it at the beginning.” –Mahatma Gandhi. You may not have thought you would make it through the night in one piece but actually you believed enough in yourself that not only did you make it through but you guaranteed that you could do it again should you need to.

8.    Perhaps the reason for your reluctance to attend the party was something as simply complicated as feeling inferior, whether it be because you didn’t know how to converse with this particular group of people or because you have never felt comfortable in social situations. Whatever your belief is around inferiority remember this, When you are content to be simply yourself and don’t compare or compete, everybody will respect you.” –Lao Tzu. This is great ammunition for the next big social event and now you are armed and ready to go.

9.    No matter how the night turned out there is one thing for sure; you learned something about yourself this night. Your self-discovery is a powerful realization. “One of the greatest moments in anybody’s developing experience is when he no longer tries to hide from himself but determines to get acquainted with himself as he really is.” –Norman Vincent Peale. Discover on……

10.    This takes us to those inevitable last 5 minutes of the party. Are you elated because it’s over and you feel proud to have made it through? Are you amazed that time went by so quickly and now you have a little ache to actually stay and schmooze because, let’s face it, you actually had a good time? What has happened is that you and everyone around you, those that you feel truly in tune with now that the end of the night is near, have achieved acceptance;  acceptance of the gathering, acceptance of yourself, acceptance of everyone around you. “Acceptance. It is the true thing everyone longs for. The one thing everyone craves; to walk into a room and to be greeted by everyone with hugs and smiles. And in that small passing moment, you truly know you are loved, needed, and accepted.” –Rena Harmon. Remember this most of all because should you see these people again you will be accepted and everything else will either magnify to a successful degree or disappear because it is now not an issue anymore.

Journey On in this brand new year towards acceptance of self and making those many, many last five minutes the most impactful and meaningful ever. Happy YOU Year!!!

“Coaching is about helping clients unlock the treasure-chest of their lives. It is worth bearing in mind then that diamonds are made from coal under pressure and it is the grit in the oyster which creates the pearls.” – Sarah Durrant

If you are ready to ”get coached” or are just wondering if it is right for you call or write to Lisa to schedule a discovery session. This year could be your best one EVER. To reach Lisa call 203-560-3061 or write to lisa@journeyoncoaching.com. To tour the website go to www.journeyoncoaching.com

**Images courtesy of bing.com

Part 2: Are you the adult you want your children to become……

Are you the adult you want your children to become? Part 2….

“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”
― William MartinThe Parent’s Tao Te Ching: Ancient Advice for Modern Parents

In the fast paced world we live in and the immediacy of instant gratification it seems like being ordinary is not good enough, that we need to constantly be extraordinary. The poem above is proof that it is in the slowing down, the action of making the ordinary worth exploring and the action of giving permission for life to settle to its own level that makes life memorable and worthwhile in the ordinary.

In celebration of Mother’s Day how will you as the parent celebrate the ordinary? Take some time to reflect on how your children have benefited from the ordinary through your eyes as the parent. What did you see that you wanted them to see? An example of my thought process here is the fact that I celebrate my children’s half birthdays.

If you are up for sharing, tell me about your mother’s hands or tell me about her unique ways in which she celebrated the ordinary. I can’t wait to hear from you.

lisa@journeyoncoaching.com