Monthly Archives: January 2015

Week #20 – How about “A Breath of Fresh Air”?

Breathing Easy (photo credit: Vickey Finn)

BOFA (photo credit: Vickey Finn)

Week #20 – How about “A Breath of Fresh Air”?

I discovered a message in my “other” in-box last week.  Someone who knew Rob from Ocean Grove tried to find him through Google — and found his obituary instead.  The news was as fresh as it was to so many back in September…and I welcomed the opportunity to chat about him.  As I read the messages coming at me, one phrase in particular stood out: “what a breath of fresh air he was…”

“A breath of fresh air…”  It’s one of those phrases we throw around a lot — but do you ever stop to think about what it really means?  The literal definition is a breath of air (most likely from outside) that isn’t stale or stinky.  Figuratively — it’s a new, innovative, or imaginative approach.  But did you know there is another meaning?  According to American Heritage Dictionary, it also means “a welcome arrival” — replacing the terms “breath of Heaven” or “breath of Spring”.

I found it especially poignant that someone who longed to take just one, long, easy breath — was remembered as a “breath of fresh air.”

Mostly though — it touched a bit of a nerve.  Maybe it’s just that cabin-fevery time of year — but I am suddenly very much aware of areas of staleness in my own life: unpacked boxes, undone to-do’s, and who knows what other unfinished business — all standing in the way of new ideas, new approaches, new arrivals, solutions, or just a clear and happy head (and heart)!

How about you?

Your assignment for the week (and mine): Are there areas of staleness in your life where you need “a breath of fresh air”?

  • Cabin Fever — Maybe just a change of scenery is enough.  One of my fondest memories as a teen was when my parents would treat us to a day trip to the shore in the middle of winter.  We weren’t used to seeing it so barren and vacant.  My brother and I would walk the beach, eat lunch on the sand, and take in some much needed sun and salt air.  Take a ride, take a walk, or take a trip…get out from behind those four walls and see something new!
  • Indecisive, Confused, Blocked — Are you asking the same people for input, feedback, and advice?  Maybe a new perspective is in order — someone else’s!  Seek out those who have achieved what you want, are on that track, or who know something about the topic at hand (maybe even someone who disagrees with you).  Fresh perspectives are the stone that sharpens the sword…seek them out and leverage them to their full effect!
  • Welcome! — Are you rolling out the welcome mat for the right people in your life?  Are they people who lift you up or put you down?  (Maybe you need to put out the “closed” sign instead!)  And what about you?  When you cross someone else’s threshold, are you spreading happyness — or just stale and stinky air?

Get some fresh air this week — and give some in return!  Change your scenery, change your perspective, or change the company you keep.  Happyness in…Happyness out!

Spread Happyness…and share your “fresh air” ideas in the comments!

1/30/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #19 – “You are worthy!” (Rob and Nina know it…do you?!)

"That's right!"

“That’s right!”  (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #19 – “You are worthy!” (Rob and Nina know it…do you?!)

Rob texted me these words in the week before he died…we were discussing possible overnight arrangements if he needed help.  He was telling me how I would get to sleep on these nice clean sheets…for some reason he added: “You are worthy.”

The words kind of haunt me for many reasons…but mainly it struck a chord very deep.  I’ve long admired people who take care of themselves…people who put themselves first, who aren’t afraid to take a day off, to say no, or even treat themselves to nice clean sheets!  It’s one of the many reasons I liked my brother so much…he knew his worth!  (And he knew I didn’t always know mine!)

Somewhere “worth” is defined by comparison “against” another thing.  For years — like most people — I looked outside myself for the assessment of my value.  We each can pick our poisons: achievement, income, zip code, sales numbers, credits, clients, kids, trophies, travels, shoes…and now with social media we have comments, page views, friends, followers, likes, pokes, and tweets!

Compare, compare, compare…and yet Teddy Roosevelt said, “Comparison is the thief of joy!”  How, then, do we know our worth — and find happiness (or just clean sheets for that matter)?!

Your assignment for the week: FIND YOUR TRUE MEASURING STICKS!  While the most common definition of “worth” leans toward outside measurement — the only true measuring stick is inside YOU!  What are your abilities?  What are you capable of?  Do you value yourself?  Honor yourself?  Keep your promises to yourself?  Live up to your own standards?  Nurture your talents?  Share them with others?  Forget the rest of the world for a moment…how do you measure up to YOU?!

We’re at that point in January — 23 days into the new year — where resolutions are fading.  Do you remember the things you wanted to change/improve/achieve this year?  Don’t let them slip away!  Stand up for yourself!  Pick one thing important to you and follow through!  “You are worthy!”

What do you need to follow through on this week?  Can you encourage or help someone else stay the course or get back on track?

Spread Happyness — and share your thoughts in the comments!  They are worth it!  😉

1/23/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

Week #18 – “Roll Me Away!” (What’s your escape song?)

Week #18 – “Roll Me Away!” (What’s your escape song?)

The winter doldrums are setting in…the holidays are over, and we’ve got a long six weeks until March 1st, let alone the official start of Spring.  I can feel it everywhere…everyone wants to escape!

Snowbirds are flying south…resort season is in full swing…summer rental signs are going up…and the B&B’s in town are starting to book for the season.  Even Mother Nature is showing her intent…on Sunday I noticed the trees on Main Street are budding…which got me thinking my usual first-sign-that-spring-is-just-around-the-corner-thought: I really want a motorcycle this year!

My brother introduced me to the song “Roll Me Away” by Bob Seger.  I don’t remember when or why that song specifically came up…but after I got my motorcycle license and we drove around a bit together, I understood why he loved it so much.  Nothing felt so free as riding a bike!  And that song captures that longing for freedom perfectly.

Try as we might…we can’t be perfectly happy all the time.  Longing is a part of the human condition…it’s what keeps us dreaming, keeps us envisioning, keeps us journeying to find out what’s beyond that next bend in the road…and then over those hills…and then out further along that plain…

Your assignment for this week: When you come across something you “aren’t happy about” — don’t just settle for unhappiness!  Identify the longing…and use it to get focused on what you want.  Then, get a theme song to inspire you!  When I was leaving my corporate job, I listened to Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” every single day on my way to work to remind me that my future was AHEAD of me…not behind me!  Maybe for you it’s a workout song…or a vacation-starts-today-song…or an interview song.  Whatever it is, try it…and let us know how it goes!

As for today…”Roll!  Roll me away…I want to roll me away tonight!”  Do you have a longing that needs a soundtrack?

Spread Happyness — share your thoughts or tell us about your “escape” song in the comments!

“Next time…we’ll get it right!”

1/16/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church



Week #17 – “Warm” Enough? (Ten Practical Ways to Spread-the-Warmth during this Cold Snap!)


Week #17 – “Warm” Enough?  (Ten Practical Ways to Spread-the-Warmth during this Cold Snap!)

While visiting my parents last week I had some time to go through the many, many cards and letters they received after Rob died.  In all the material I read, one of the most frequently used terms to describe Rob was “WARM.”  Now…warm might conjure up soft images like “warm and fuzzy” or “compassionate” or “caring”.  These are all valid angles to explore…but since it’s cold and my attention span is at about…oh…what was I saying?…I’m going to get right to the point!

Your assignment this cold winter weekend: Put one of these “Ten Practical Ways to Spread-the-Warmth” to work this week!

At Home
1. Start someone’s car!  I know many of you have remote starts but there are still a few of us who don’t!  A warmed up car as you’re running out the door is such a blessing!
2. Leave the porch light on!  Nothing says “I love you” like a well-lit door.  (And nothing says, “Ha ha…I’m warm in here and you’re not!” as you fumble for your keys in a dark entryway!)
3. Boost the thermostat for loved ones.  I know a big, tough, maitre d’ who runs a dining room staff like a Don…and yet he told me he sets the thermostat to rise 15 minutes before his youngest gets up for school so that he’ll have a warm bathroom in the morning.  How sweet is that?!
4. Help carry in the groceries — or volunteer to bring home the food!  Either way, plan meals at home during a cold snap.  This not only saves money…it saves valuable time lost to deciding where to go, going there, waiting for your meal, and then coming home.  And who doesn’t need more time?!
5. Snuggle up with hot beverages and watch movies.  As a family, as a couple, with friends, with pets, or all alone…movie night is always a precious way to stay warm, get a little extra rest, and catch up on all those films that you missed during the holidays and nicer weather!

Outside the House
6. Bring donuts/coffee into work.  Be that guy (or gal) — and expect nothing in return!
7. Put the carts back!!!  (‘Nuff said!)
8. Take care of your gas station attendant.  I’ve lived in places where I’ve pumped my own — and I know how to do it — but man, it sure is nice to stay in the car on a cold day!  Be sure to thank that guy or gal who’s making that possible!
9. Know someone else who works outside?  Bring them a snack or something hot to drink!  (This is also a nice way to win over someone’s heart…just sayin’.)
10. Finally…Move It Along!  If someone who works outside is waiting on you to move or make their job easier (gas station attendant, crossing guard, mail carrier, garbage/recycling pick-up, delivery people, etc.) send a warm message and make a way — or move it along!

Something here ring a bell?  Tried something and it worked?  Other ideas or thoughts to share?

Spread Happyness — and Spread the Warmth!  Share your ideas in the comments!

1/9/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church

PS: To everyone who sent all those cards or letters…thank you!  Each one means so much!

Week #16 – Can you say, “I love my life!” (One surefire way to make sure you can in 2015!)

Loving Life!  (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Loving Life! (Photo credit: Grace Church)

Week #16 – Can you say “I love my life!”  (One surefire way to make sure you can in 2015!)

Many of us have been looking back over the past year, reflecting on all the changes, the highs, the lows, what happened, what went wrong, and how we can fix it in 2015.

But it’s hard to love your life when it’s so easy to look back and come up with all the bad things that happened.  Hell — while reviewing my own year I forgot about starting this website and blogging for the first time (something I’ve been wanting to do for years!).  Those two wins got eclipsed (momentarily) by one very significant loss.  Afterall, it’s easy to get stuck on the losses…but we have to balance them with what we’ve gained.  We have to, as our friend Rob Nicholson said in a recent Facebook post, “keep moving forward and celebrate and revel in what we have!”

So I want to do something different.  I want to look ahead…WAY ahead.  To December 31st of THIS year.  It’s only 365 days away.  Oops…364 now!  What will it take to say on that day, “I love my life?”

I know one thing for sure…it will take REMINDERS!

Your assignment this week: Don’t count on yourself to remember everything about the year come December 31st.  Make a plan to curate the wins just as much as the losses.  Come up with a system for recording your achievements, successes, highlights, and otherwise happy times THROUGHOUT the year ahead!  The most obvious way is to keep a dated list — in a journal, on your computer, via email, or on your phone — where you take time each day to review your activities and take note of anything special or significant.  I keep a running list by date and habitually recount the day’s activities.  To be honest, most days it’s pretty mundane — but the habit assures that when something notable happens I’m going to capture and remember it.  Recently though, I’ve seen and heard about some other very creative ideas:

  • I’ve seen a Gratitude Tree — write what you’re grateful for on little shapes and fill an inside tree or wall mural up throughout the year (works in classrooms, too!).
  • I heard of photo-journaling — use cell-phone photos in a specific file or on Instagram to keep track of accomplishments.
  • But my favorite has been the Joy Jar or Happiness Jar!  The idea is simple: you start on January 1st (okay, 2nd) with an empty jar in a prominent location in your home — and you start dropping notes in it throughout the year about things that went well, things that make you happy, things you’re grateful for, achieved, or accomplished.  At the end of the year you have a personal collection of happy memories to review — or immediate access throughout the year when you need a lift to face a challenge!  One woman even collaged them on a monthly basis as a type of word-cloud to record as a journal.

The possibilities are endless — but the idea is the same: make it a point to collect the good stuff!  Because we need more of that.  More focus on the wins.  More focus on what’s right.  More focus on loving our lives — so that we can live our lives more fully.

I want us to say, “I love my life!” in 2015.  I want to yell it together — from wherever we are — at midnight next New Year’s Eve!  And I want a plan in place to do it!  Who’s with me?!

Spread Happyness — share your ideas, thoughts, or suggestions for tracking your accomplishments — or pledge to yell “I love my life!” in the comments!

1/2/15 by Grace Church
© Grace Church