YOU HAVE MORE GIFTS THAN YOU REALIZE

As we had into a weekend that contains holidays for many of us, let us do so with a heart filled with gratitude. Not only for the gifts so thoughtfully given, but to have those in our lives to celebrate with. It is unfortunately true that many of us may be facing our first holiday without a loved one. Still, let us be so grateful we had them in our lives to create such beautiful holiday memories with. Let us savor those memories and allow their spirits to live on.

There are so many things in our lives to be thankful and grateful for that it amounts to a pile of presents under a tree. Here is a great suggestion to help you feel the holiday spirit. This can be done in your head or even out loud. It can be a great new holiday tradition to start with the family.

With each person that is in your life, be they family, friends or coworkers, think of each person and all they bring to your life. Each positive thing is a gift to your sprit. If you list each thing as you think of them, you will realize how truly blessed and abundant you are. If you wish to take it to the next level, write them down and share with that person. Can you imagine the joy they would feel getting a card/email or other message that begins “this holiday, I want to thank you for bringing into my life the gifts of…”

The gifts will be different for everyone. Some will be the gift of laughter. Some people may give you the gift of encouragement. There are people who help with the gift of faith. The lists could be endless. Do this for as many people as you can and you will feel not only like you received a lot of presents this year, but you will feel very grateful and very blessed.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM ALL OF US AT SECRET2ANAMAZINGLIFE.COM TO ALL OF YOU!😀

DON’T FORGET TO DO THIS ONE IMPORTANT THING

We are almost to the end of the week. There are probably goals that you are working hard to achieve. Maybe your efforts are focused on just making it through the week. Although we should focus on thriving instead of surviving, some weeks can be tougher than others. With the holidays, you have not only your regular responsibilities, but additional stress as well. This is why this one activity must be included in every day, no matter how busy you are!

What is this activity that is all so important? Taking time to do at least one thing that makes you happy. Before you start arguing that you’re too busy, or simply don’t have the time, let me explain why this is so important. Taking time to do something that simply brings us joy can go a long way to reduce stress.  By doing so, we help bolster our immune system. Which in today’s world is very crucial. We also take care of our heart. By exposure to prolonged bouts of stress, there are numerous cardiac events that cloud occur, none of them good. We also increase dopamine levels, or the feel good chemical in our brain.

All of these allow us to be there for those we love, increase our productivity, and enjoy life more. This doesn’t have to be anything grandiose. It can be simply enjoying a peaceful cup of quality coffee or a nice hot bath and really savoring the moment. What activities are you going to do to bring yourself some joy?

GIVE THE GIFT OF EXPERIENCE

Our friends, the Dorfners

Last post I wrote about a local amazing store called oniomania that I had recently visited. While writing about that specific store and all the wonderful gifts they have, I got a great idea. One of the best gifts you can give is the gift of experience!

One of our favorite breakfast places

How do you give the gift of experience? Think of places you have just fallen in love with. In our city of West Allis, there are many local businesses that fit that description. With all of the hard times businesses are facing, why not give the gift of an experience at a local business?

Who to see if you love skateboarding

There are so many ways to celebrate with friends while supporting local businesses. Margie and I love stopping at Westallion, the local brewery, to enjoy some very festive and unique brews. We often visit there with friends and family. West Allis Cheese and Sausage is a great place to not only take friends for breakfast or lunch, but has a great little store filled with delicious gifts to feed the stomach and the soul. For our more active friends we have Transaction Skate Shop, filled with everything you could need for skating.

Great gift ideas here!

If you can’t support a local business in person during the busy holiday season, why not purchase gift cards to give to others? You will be both giving the gift of a great experience to someone you care about, but giving the gift of a great holiday to local business owners and your neighbors they employ. The possibilities are endless! We have great places to eat such as Urban Joe Cafe and Peanut Butter and Jelly Deli, plus places to work it off like Peak Physique. Giving the gift of a great meal or cup of coffee? How about the gift of health and fitness? All well helping the business owners, their employees and all of their families enjoy the holidays more? It is a win for everyone!

HOLIDAY WISHES

As I sit and compose messages for after the holidays, I would like to wish everyone and their families a healthy and happy holiday season.

I know all of you following this blog celebrate different things this time of year, whatever holiday you are celebrating, my wish is you do so with love and compassion in your heart.

From all of us at secret2anamazinglife.com to all of you, have a joyous and loving holiday!

30 DAYS OF GRATITUDE (DAY #15)

Welcome back to our celebration of 30 days of gratitude. Each day we will focus on one area of our life to be grateful for. If this is your first day doing this I invite you to go back and do the days before this. You can do them in your head, write them down and home, but it is my hope you decide to share what you are grateful for with our community here on Secret2anamazinglife.com. There are no rules. Do one day or do all 30. Let us now look at today’s area of gratitude.

Right away my brain screams, “Summer!!!” when I see this question. No doubt as I sit here writing slowly losing feeling in my toes from the cold (I am inside a coffee shop mind you) I am grateful for weather that does not feature such temperatures. It is the holiday season here in the United States. It features a little more kindness than usual, that is reason to be grateful. There are seasons of life. I suppose I would fall in the middle of mine. I am grateful for that. I am old enough to realize what I should not do. Occasionally, I am still young and foolish enough to try things I shouldn’t. I recall a moment of sustaining a concussion at the last Warrior Dash race I ran.

What season are you grateful for? How did you interpret this question? Seasons of life? Seasons of mother nature? Holiday seasons? I would love to hear your answers. 

IT CAN BE A GLORIOUS TIME… IT CAN BE A DIFFICULT TIME

Halloween has just past and the seasons are beginning to change. Here in the city I live it they have not only begun to change, it would seem we went right from summer into winter. What this points to is the holiday season fast approaching. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or any other holiday this season is a time to gather with friends and family to celebrate. It does not matter if you are Christian, Jewish, Muslim or any other faith. It doesn’t even matter if you do not follow any particular faith at all. Usually you will be attending some gathering.

These times can recharge our spirit and sense of belonging. It can, however, do the opposite for many. If you find yourself living away from family and friends you can experience a feeling of longing and being left out. Those who have lost love ones can often be reminded of the pain of that lost most around the holidays. While partaking in long-held traditions the feeling of emptiness can be magnified. Maybe you have recently went through the heartache of ending a relationship. Not having that certain someone to celebrate with can cause your heart to break again. Watching one of those fabulous Hallmark movies, or groups of other enjoying their holiday season can leave you feeling down, even though we think it should have us feeling joyous.

There are two points I would like to make with this point. The first is to not only understand, but be compassionate these feelings are what some of those closest to you may be feeling. They may be doing their best to ‘put on a happy face’ and make it through the holiday festivities. They may be worried about bringing everyone else down because of their sadness. There may even be feelings of guilt because they do not feel as happy as they should. We must treat each other with a special kind of compassion and respect during this holiday season. Just because someone is wearing a holiday smile or a silly holiday sweater doesn’t mean there is not some pain and sadness behind that. We must also remember that many times there is nothing we can do to help them, but just be there to listen and even offer a hug.

The second point, what we can do if we find ourselves to be the ones with sadness this holiday season? We can also practice compassion…with ourselves. We must give ourselves permission to experience our feelings. We must be brave enough to reach out to others for help. That could be a friend, a family member or even a grief counseling group. It is a gift we can give ourselves this holiday season. The grief and sadness you feel may never go away, but it is important to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. There are those who can listen. There are those who can help you cope and be with you throughout the process. I encourage everyone to keep these things in mind during this season.

As I write this, it is the final day of Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This is a holiday celebrated in Mexico. It is the celebration of our loved ones who have passed on. It is not a solomn holiday but one filled with joy and a feeling their relatives are still with them in spirit. This is little consolation to some, but may be a helpful way of looking at it for others. Memories, although they can be bittersweet, are gifts from those who have passed on. There are many ways to connect to others. If your sadness stems from having to be away from your family this holiday, try reaching out with a phone call, skype, text, email or even an old-fashioned letter. As you write you are with those you miss. (as a side note this can also work if someone has passed on) Just healing over the end of a relationship? Honor those feelings and discover new and wonderful traditions you can begin. It is a fresh start and the birth of a whole new way to celebrate.

In closing, this holiday season remember to be kind and compassionate to everyone…including yourself. 

CLICK HERE TO GET NEIL’S BOOK FILLED WITH IDEAS TO MAKE YOUR LIFE AMAZING!

HOLIDAY WISHES FROM ALL OF US AT SECRET2ANAMAZINGLIFE.COM!

Today, for those who celebrate it, is Christmas. Whether you celebrate this holiday for its religious meaning, or just secularly, or even if you do not celebrate it at all, there are a few things to keep in mind on this day.

First of all, things will be a bit crazy. Roads will be crowded, businesses will be closed or have shortened hours. The weather may even be a bit sketchy in some locations. Remember to exercise patience and caution. As I tell all of my friends and family, “Better to arrive late than not at all.”

Next is the whole gift thing. I must confess being the person who wants to get people the ultimate gift. Not necessarily biggest or most expensive, but just one that will bring the greatest amount of joy. In fact, up until a few days ago, I had been searching and thinking like a mad man for something special for my love Margie. This is exactly the kind of behavior that can ruin the holidays. If you were to stop and think about it, you are giving someone a gift. Even if they do not exactly like what you got them, they should be grateful you thought of them and went out of your way to purchase something for them. Don’t stress over gifts. Give what you can to those you can.

What if you can’t afford gifts this year? That is ok too. Personally, homemade gifts I find to be some of the most treasured. A well thought out poem or card can simply melt a heart and give warm and wonderful feelings all year long. Even giving someone the pleasure of your company or the gift of your undivided attention can mean the world. We all have gifts to offer. Some of us tell jokes and give the gift of laughter. You may be someone who is a great cook and can fill someone’s stomach and their heart with joy. The people willing to pitch in and help clean up after Christmas dinner never go unappreciated. Whoever you are, you can offer a great gift without spending anything.

Lastly, this time of year enjoy the gift of togetherness. Sure, there may be that family member who you don’t exactly see eye to eye with. That’s ok, they help you grow and practice patience and compassion. Be grateful for those who take the time to be with you. Learn from them, share with them and love them. Enjoy some great conversations and give everyone the great gift of being listened to.

Whatever you choose to celebrate this time of year, all of us here at secret2anamazinglife.com wish you and your loved ones a safe, healthy and happy holiday season filled with love and laughter.

YOU TOO CAN SEE THE GOOD!

Today’s post is a guest post brought to us kindly from Kathy via her blog See the Good. there will be a link at the end of this post for you to check out more of Kathy’s wonderful blog. It not only helps us shift the focus to one of positivity, but gives us tools and ideas to do so.

A little more about today’s post. Kathy’s words on her personal definition of faith and how it helped her deal with the loss of a loved one close to the holidays is a message I feel could benefit a lot of us this time of the year. I encourage you to learn a little bit more about the author, enjoy the post and then do what I do, check out See the Good for your daily dose of inspiration.

Kathy is a wife, a mother, a friend and a writer. Her interests range from scuba diving and riding motorcycles to staying home with a good book or movie. She also enjoys the rejuvenating effect of time spent in nature with her husband. Writing has always been a passion of hers throughout her careers as a landscape designer, sales or as a laborer. Understanding the power of words to hurt or heal, Kathy is the first to put them into a positive healthy use with the aid of family and friends.

The holiday season seems to be a signal to me that after all of the celebrating there is an end coming. In most cases, it is the end of a year which is followed by an opportunity for a new beginning if we choose to take it. New Year’s resolutions can range from being more fiscally responsible, to personal health goals or working to become more mindful of the world around us. But each person must make the choice to set a goal for the new year and then invest the effort in reaching it. Sadly, many of these goals fall from our minds in just a week or two.

This time of year always makes me think of days gone by and loved ones who I miss a great deal. And it also makes me think about the future, both theirs and mine. I have lost a few very special people close to the holidays, and that always pulls my thoughts to their transition. The folks we lost close to the holidays have been mercifully taken to relieve them of their pain, and the burden that their earthly body had become. I try to look deep into my heart and feel enough joy for them that it blocks out my own selfish pain and sorrow.

During these moments I also begin to evaluate my own beliefs and faith. I say faith because I don’t have another word for it, but many would accuse me of stealing a word that they hold reverent and using it in a blasphemous manner. They look at me and say that I have no right to the term, or any right to expect mercy when my journey comes to an end. I have not lived the life of a good Christian, nor should I expect to be welcomed as if I were one.

And for many years I believed them. I even worked to come to terms with my fate as they described it. I had religion forced on me as a child, teen and even young adult and I just never fit into the mold. I will admit to, and even own, my rebellious nature, my incessant need to ask why and my stubborn nature which were all seen as issues by the church. The older I got, the more clearly I understood that these were a part of who I am and not parts that I was willing to give up to conform to someone else’s description of a good Christian.

But somewhere along the way, I also began to understand that nothing in this world is a one size fits all equation. We are all unique, and we were meant to be that way. If some higher power wanted a flock of replications, then that is what we would all be. But we are not. Now my reflections were focusing more on what I was doing and not what I was not doing. I did believe in some higher being and in heaven. I pictured each of my loved ones in that setting. They were no longer in pain or ill. They were happy, healthy and whole again. I can’t think of any other term for what I pictured, other than heaven.

So as it turned out, I did believe, just in my own way. For many years, I kept this revelation to myself, because a small part of me still thought that I might be doing things all wrong. And that in the end, I would not be going where I thought I was. After my father passed, I had a long talk with my aunt. She is an amazing lady, who can be quite the fireball. But she has a heart of gold, and she always call it like she sees it. Rosemary was never one to be the pushy religious type, and I never recall hearing of her attending church regularly, so I felt we could be kindred spirits in a way.

She told me that she knew exactly where my Dad was, and it was heaven for sure. She knew this because she has a personal relationship with the man upstairs. I must have been very quiet at that point because she paused a moment, and then went on to tell me that she didn’t need any intermediary and neither did I. A church was fine for some people but others could choose to speak directly, and the man upstairs would still hear us. I felt such relief having someone whom I respected and loved so much, finally affirming that I did have faith. And that I was doing it right, or at least right for me.

Many years later another very special person shared her thoughts with me and helped me define what I have, even more clearly. Janet said that in her heart she felt that religion was more oriented to a church or formal relationship with a higher power, while spirituality was a more individual relationship. That thought just seemed to resonate within my heart and soul. And between these two ladies, I have found the comfort and security of knowing where I will be when I find the end of my journey here on earth.

I believe that for me, my faith is a very personal thing. It is a relationship with a higher being that is mine, and mine alone. Because that is what works for me. I have no right to judge anyone else’s relationship, faith, beliefs or spirituality, just as I have no right to judge any of their other feelings or beliefs. For that reason, I very, very rarely will speak of God or how any person should find or relate to God or religion. But every once in a while, I remember how two special people showed me that I should trust my feelings and my own beliefs. And that my feelings are right, because they work for me. And in their honor, I share my story to offer hope, relief, and understanding to others out there who might be wondering if they have made a big mistake. My advice is simple… it is never a mistake to follow your heart. You were created to be a completely unique individual, and that is what makes you special and irreplaceable. Follow your heart, use your gifts and find peace in knowing that they will take you where you are meant to go. You are never alone, you have not been forgotten and your thoughts and prayers will be heard.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE OF SEE THE GOOD

IT IS FREE, SO WHY NOT?

All this week we have been looking at questioning our thoughts, our beliefs and the inner dialogue we have with ourselves. Today we are going to take a look at something that needs no questioning. It will work with any faith, any belief (at least any healthy belief) and will improve not only your inner dialogue, but your sense of inner-peace and well-being. This is something that we should be doing not only during the holiday season, but all year long.

Making others feel good about themselves. After all, that is the point of gifts we give this time of the year. It is not merely an exchange of material objects, but the thoughts that we remembered those closest to us at a special time of the year. A simple card with a heartfelt message can mean the world to a lonely soul. A genuine compliment and sign of appreciation to a retail employee during a busy holiday shopping season can be a very valuable gift.

This holiday season start a practice to keep alive all year long. Begin today to look for ways to help others feel good about themselves. It doesn’t cost you a thing and can feel priceless to them.

 

TRADITIONS

The Holiday season is almost upon us. At local stores decorations are starting to go up, I even heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day. With the holidays coming up we can find our minds turning toward traditions. There are many different kinds of traditions. There are traditions based on our different faiths. This can encompass many different things from fasting, praying, style of dress and many more. These traditions are very important for cultural reasons. The connect us as a faith-based community and refresh our spiritual nature. There are also different family traditions. These can include shopping for holiday gifts together, creating a holiday meal together or just gathering at a certain family members house for great times. The traditions here can be as unique as the family itself.

The tradition I would like to discuss today is more individual. It can be between spouses, brother and sister, friends or even an individual tradition. The picture I used for this blog post is one of Margie and me at one of our favorite breakfast places. We have been going there since shortly after we met. Sadly, this day we missed another tradition of ours which was an event called ‘Cider Sunday’ in which a local nature preserve celebrates all things apple. We also have other traditions that we have began. Most of them both add love to our life, as well as keeping that love fresh and fun. Do you have something like this with the love of your life? Maybe a special place you go on a birthday? Maybe an event you look forward to attending every year? Do you celebrate the first day of spring by having a picnic in the park for example?

If you do not have a romantic tradition, or would like to include more, why not get together with your love today and discuss that? This also works with brother and sisters, friends, coworkers and anyone else you would like to include. My suggestion is this, create traditions that help that relationship grow. Maybe something that fosters a feeling of gratitude and appreciation in the relationship, or perhaps a way to grow and learn together? In the case of romantic partners, use Margie and me as an example. Create traditions that feed love and keep it fresh and growing.

Personal traditions may be something that is not as familiar with a lot of you, but I think they can have a great impact on our lives. Perhaps start a tradition of keeping a gratitude journal every night or at the very least once a week. A daily or weekly meditation practice could serve you as well. They can be traditions that add joy to your life. I do things to celebrate the first day of spring and summer each year. I also attend a bicycle expo every year as it helps me look forward to spring and being able to get out and ride.

Feel free to share any traditions you have with us in the comments below. Whether they are Faith, family, romantic or personal. This way we can all inspire each other with great ideas!