Think Positive Mondays: Celebrate the Small Things

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(Think Positive Monday: sharing tips and keeping me in line to live a happier and more positive life)

I love having an excuse to celebrate. A reason to break open a bottle of champagne, dig into some cake, gather around with friends, or take a night off from the regular routine. 

In our home, we make it a priority to celebrate the small moments and wins. Those small milestones need their own time to shine just as much as the big life accomplishments. When you think about it, those big accomplishments most likely wouldn’t have happened without the smaller ones. 

Finish a project at work? Receive an A+ from your dentist? Manage to de clutter your home office? Follow your workout regimen to a T? Pass a hard text at school? Go on an awesome date with a potential new partner? Make it to a Friday on a particularly bad week? Let’s celebrate!

By celebrating the small milestones in life we are acknowledging the journey, not just the destination. We all can benefit from celebrating the unique path that our lives are taking us and not just focusing on the end game. 

Also, when we acknowledge these small moments it allows us to recognize the gifts the journey is presenting us. We are forced to pay attention to the little positive aspects of our life, making us aware that good things DO happen to us. In turn, those positive memories stay with us for a lifetime. Reinforcing the idea when we truly need it, when the road gets tough. 

So take a moment. Celebrate the small moments, the small changes, and the small accomplishments before they slip away. Savor the champagne and enjoy every bite of that cake. Cheers to you! 

 

What’s New? Coffee Talk Vol. 4

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Hey there, I thought I’d use this Friday to do a little check in with you. Grab a coffee, let’s chat. If we were sitting down together, sharing a chat over coffee, this is what I’d tell you:

  • Although I still don’t like winter, this winter doesn’t seem so bad. Probably because the winter of 2014 was so awful and terrible, what with the never-ending snow and ice storms and negative temperatures. So far, this winter has seemed pretty mild in comparison. So that’s a plus. 
  • Last Friday, before we skipped town, we bought a new car. (This marks two new cars in one year, gasp!) I usually hate car shopping (all the small chat, all the hidden deals and messages) but this was pretty painless. We knew exactly what we wanted and we knew what we wanted to pay and we got it. We traded in my 2008 two-door Hyundai Tiburon and Ryan is now the proud driver of a 2015 Hyundai Elantra. I’m usually a sentimental sap, but I have to say I was not sad to say goodbye to Tabitha the Tiburon. Other than driving me home from Chicago after a terrible break up she’s been nothing but bad news for me. See ya! 
  • We’ve officially given up Comcast cable. It felt good to cut the cord (and cut down our ridiculous high bill). We got an Apple TV and it works great. We’re able to watch all the shows that we want and it works perfectly with Airplay on the Ipad. 
  • I’ve been reading a lot lately and will be sharing my latest book reviews next week, however I have a little secret. In addition to the “normal” books that I read, I’m also in a book club…that specifically reads books written by the girls from MTV’s Teen Mom and other fallen starlets (right now we’re consuming Jodi Sweetin’s book). They are ridiculous, sad, and highly entertaining. So far we’ve read Kailyn, Farrah, and Amber’s autobiographies.  Such guilty pleasures and so fun to discuss and gossip over. 
  • We watched a movie we had rented through Netflix mail order this past weekend (Monuments Men). While packing up the DVD to mail back I noticed that the traditional red and white Netflix envelope was decorated with spider webs and bats and said “Happy Halloween”. Yep, we’ve had a movie since early October. We just never got around to watching it. How long have you had a movie from Netflix? 
  • Another confession: my Christmas decorations are all still up. Yes, my Christmas tree hit the curb (isn’t that the saddest sight?) a few weeks ago, but all the other decorations are proudly on display. I’ve been too busy, lazy, sad to take them down. Maybe this weekend….

What is new with you? How is January treating you?

 

 

Do You Know Your Neighbors? (Losing the Neighborhood)

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When we were young, a smiling Mr. Rogers asked us to be his neighbor. He taught me more than to put popcorn in my peanut butter and jelly. He taught me to believe in community, to smile and make friends. To be kind to strangers.

Does anyone in real life have neighbors like our friends on TV do?

Lucy and Ricky had Ethel and Fred. Fred and Wilma had Betty and Barney. Wilson was always available for a strange metaphorical lesson for the Taylor family on Home Improvement. George Feeney was always willing to lend an ear on Boy Meets World, Joey and Chandler were right across the hall whenever Monica and Rachel needed some friendly banter, and Winnie Cooper will always be the epitome of the girl next door. 

Although many of these TV friendships were created for easy plot conventions, I can’t help but think about how people treated their neighbors 40-50 years ago. When you could easily skip across the street to borrow a cup of milk or trust your kids to go knock on the neighbor’s door to ask their kids to play. When you could ask your neighbor to help you with some handy work or when bbqs and Friday night happy hours were shared events. 

I’ve never interacted with a neighbor that way and that makes me sad. 

A 2013 study by State Farm shows that only 25% of American know the names of their next door neighbors. 

What happened to our sense of community? And how is it hurting us?

We’re all too busy inside with our “social” media and Netflix binges. Our focus is on individualism and in turn our needs are more selfish and our sense of responsibility to community have gone way down. We are more alienated now then we have ever been. Also, we are all full of mistrust and weariness. We live in a world where we have every right to be scared of our neighbors.

Is our focus on individualism and our  mistrust of others linked? I certainly believe so.

Ryan and I live in a condo/townhome community, surrounded by hundreds of neighbors. We walk the walking trails and pass the same neighbors again and again, greeting with a slight nod of the head or a half-smile. Despite all of this, I know the names of only one couple that lives across the street. And it’s all because they made the effort.

They came over and greeted us when we moved in two years ago. They smiled big smiles and insisted that if we ever needed anything, they were there. It was comforting. Six months later they saw us moving in some new used furniture we bought off Craigslist and they very kindly gifted us a beautiful dresser and mirror they were trying to sell. Every morning they greet me with a bellowing “Hello, Katie!” Since then I’ve introduced myself to a few other neighbors and have been met with a little apprehension on their end. 

Sometimes when I take Maggie out at night, barefoot in my pajamas, I become overcome with anxiety that I’ve locked myself out of the house. My keys and cellphone safely locked inside while I’m abandoned out in the cold in my ugliest pajamas. Who’s door would I knock on to let me use their phone? Who should I trust? Who would trust me?

I try to hold the belief that most people are good at heart. But it’s hard for that hope to withstand when you read the news.

Our alienation and individualism is cutting down our civic duty. In this highly connected world we are very disconnected from those closest to us. Our neighbors. When shootings happen in schools and neighborhoods are threatened with homicides and robberies and community riots get out of hand are reaction is to hide and blockade ourselves rather than work together for a common good.

Isn’t putting aside our differences and working together for a common good what our nation was founded on? I can’t help but see that if we started to rebuild that connection with our community, if we started to bond together and help one another, our mistrust will also lessen. 

How do we put the “neighbor” back into the “hood”? So tell me, do you know your neighbors? Are you involved in your community? 

Home Is Where The Heart Is?

Amish Country Farm
How much does where you call home define you?

It’s perfectly clear that where we were raised plays a large role in our character. I grew up in Lancaster, PA, a small town known for its Amish community, rolling farm lands, history, and conservative minds. I went to a small public school and graduated with 150 other sheltered youth. There’s no doubt that I would be a completely different person if I was raised in a large city or in the Midwest or if I went to a private all girls school or to a huge city school. That’s pretty obvious. 

But how about when you’re an adult? What happens when you’ve matured, changed from that sheltered and naive child, when you’ve traveled, moved around a bit? Does your home town still have that much weight in defining who you are?

Most conversations with new acquaintances start with a similar question, “Where are you from?”

It feels like they are trying to compartmentalize you, figure you out. Usually I just say, “Lancaster, PA” but others times I want to say, but I’ve also lived in Maryland and Chicago. Those homes are part of who I am too. I’m more than just a girl from Amish country. Maybe I feel like that because I sometimes feel out-of-place in my town.

As a teenager I’d often find myself in my bedroom, the door closed and emo music blasting, wishing to get out of this town. To be anywhere but here. Who didn’t feel that way at 16?

I never thought I’d move back to Lancaster as an adult. But circumstances changed and life made that decision for me. After ending a bad breakup in Chicago I had no job, no money, and nowhere to go but home. I took shelter in my childhood home and clung to my family and the familiar. I’m forever grateful for having a place to come home to and a family to take care of me.

As my bitterness resided I began to fall in love with my hometown in a way I never would have guessed. I was slowly turning back into the woman I thought I had lost but I was also turning into someone new at the same time. I liked the fresh air, even when it was full of manure. I liked the openness, the freedom to breathe. The downtown had gone through a renaissance since I had left 10 years prior and I enjoyed the new bars, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. There was a beauty in its simplicity. Cheap housing and no traffic didn’t hurt either.

I began to perceive it as something more than a town to escape. It was home. A place full of family history and memories and I clung to them dearly. 

But there’s still a part of me that feels like this town isn’t my home. And even if I do decide to stay here for the rest of my years that may be a feeling that never changes. Some days I’m content and others I am not. I am filled with wanderlust. We love taking day trips and weekend getaways. I often imagine what it would be like living somewhere else in the country or world. I consider comparing housing markets in different areas a hobby. 

Somedays Lancaster feels like home and other times it feels like a trap. 

I didn’t choose to come back and live here. But how often do we, as adults, get to choose our home town? Family obligations jobs spouses income all have a say in where we live. But does the location really matter? Isn’t home where the heart is?

My heart belongs to Ryan and it belongs to my family. I have too many ties to family and too little risk taking in my blood to be the type to drop everything and move cross-country or abroad on a whim. I’m too sentimental and too much of a planner to live a life going where the wind takes me. But even if part of my heart is here there is a little part of my heart that beats and yearns for some new experiences and for a home that feels like it completes me. 

There is too much out there to see and so many other women that I could grow into being.

If you could choose to live anywhere, where would you live? Forget about where your friends are. Forget about where you family lives. Forget about where you could get a job in your field.

They say live the life you imagined. They say home is where the heart is. What do you say? 

Is that even a question that warrants to be asked? Is it a silly romantic daydream? Is the yearning for more adventure simply part of the human experience?

What do you think? Does your current home town affect your personality? Does it play a big role in who you are? If you could live anywhere where would you live? 

Little Loves of Life

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There is nothing like a long weekend spent with family and time outdoors to make you slow down and appreciate the small things.

Life is constantly a busy mess. It can often feel like nothing is going your way and you are always stumbling and trying to catch your breath. It’s clumsy, messy, and tiring. My trick is to remember that we are all in this crazy game together and that the good often out weighs the bad. 

 Isn’t is crazy how the tiny things, when all added up, are the things that make our lives worth living? Our tiny loves are the things that transform our life from a stumbling mess into a beautiful dance. They set the beat and encourage us to to the extra twirls and dramatic dips. 

Here are a few of my little loves from the weekend that make my life worth living, the little things that make my heart do a little dance. 

The smell of coconut pineapple Chapstick (the only kind I buy) 

Straws

Violets growing in the yard

The feel of opening a brand new never been read before book

The smell of sun screen

The proud look Maggie gives when she retrieves her play rope outside

Ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies

Ice clinking in summer cocktails

Fresh clean sheets

Holding hands with Ryan in silence while sitting outside

 

Follow along on instagram for more little loves. 

What little things made you happy this long weekend?

xoxo Katie
 

 

 

Do What You Want To

Last week defeated me in more than one way. I felt drained, stressed, anxious, and like I had no extra room for happiness in my brain. My happiness and spirtuality didn’t seem like a priority.

On Sunday morning, my husband Ryan, who had an equally grueling week, said, “I know you want to rush out the door, but just take 16 minutes to watch this video with me. It’s important.” The video opened my eyes.

I curled up in bed with Ryan and was introduced to SloMo, the eccentric 70-year old who can be found performing a type of Tai Chi on roller blades while blasting classical music in San Diego nearly every day. The 16 minute video about SloMo instantly changed my perspective and I found myself re centered and awake. Ready to live.

At first glance, SloMo appears to either be a crazy homeless man or a mentally handicapped person aimlessly skating along the boardwalk. But oh was I quickly reminded to not judge a book by its cover! SloMo is John Kitchin, a retired neurologist who abruptly gave up his career in medicine and moved to a studio near the beach to live out what he loves doing most, skating in slow motion on the boardwalk.

Before he transformed into SlowMo, John Kitchin lived an all too ordinary life, one that was overworked, over scheduled, and obsessed with money and material objects. He was lost and unhappy and  had turned into a self-proclaimed “asshole”. One day while working at the hospital, Dr. Kitchin met a 93-year old man who was relatively youthful and was smiling.

Dr. Kitchen asked him what his secret to living such a long life.

His response? “Do what you want to”.

Twenty years later a lost and unhappy Kitchin gave his life a hard look. He was living by society’s rules that hard work, making money, and buying nice things will make your life complete. Here he was depressed and frustrated – living a life that was 90% about money and only 10% about spirituality. He was ready for a change.

At this time he also began to start seeing things a little fuzzy. Faces were beginning to be a little out of focus for him. He made a spastic decision to quit his former life as a capitalist and live a life doing what makes him happy.

Fast forward to his life living in a studio apartment on the beach, living out his day creating art and music and smiling and high fiving passersby as he happily skates toward the horizon for hours a day. He’s made his own rules. He has discovered that his one-legged way of slow motion skating provides a way for him to experience a sort of religious ecstasy and a connection with himself, calling it The Zone.

At first he thought this was all connected with his mental breakdown and he was going to continue to lose sight of himself and deteriorate until it killed him. Seven years later he has never felt more connected, happy, or centered. “Do What You Want To” has become is mantra for living.

Is he on to something? Decide for yourself. Believe me, it’s worth the sixteen minutes of your day:

SloMo has reminded me to slow things down. Forget the rules that others are making for you and make your own. Simplify your needs. Find what makes you happy. Reframe your life. Do what makes you happy a little bit each and every day. I will like my life depends on it, because it does.

xoxo Katie