Follow by Email

Friday, April 25, 2014

Five Minute Friday- Friend

It's a Lisa-Jo Five Minute Friday.  Write for five minutes on the word provided and link up with other writers.  http://lisajobaker.com/

Today's word is friend.

Friends... I've always been curious if I'm bad in this department or if friends really do come and go... Some of the people I've been closest with in my life are people I haven't seen in years.  Literally, years.  How can that be?  These people I consider or once considered close friends.

I recently reconnected with one of best friends from high school and it was awesome.  I remembered instantly why we were so close.  But why do we lose touch with people?  Besides a fight or moving away, how do two people who at one time spent so much time together not see each other for over a year?

I know we say we're busy and we are, but too busy for friendship?  Friends are an important part of life.  If you are a friend of mine and we haven't seen each other in over a year, I'm sorry.  When do you want to hang out?





Friday, April 11, 2014

Five Minute Friday-- PAINT

It's a Lisa-Jo Five Minute Friday!  http://lisajobaker.com/   Write for five minutes on the word provided.
Today's word is:

Paint

After reading Lisa-Jo's intro and her prompt: PAINT, I immediately thought of Julie Meyer's song "Paint your Picture."

Paint your Picture (or Paintbrush) by Julie Meyer

Pick me up like a paintbrush, God. Dip it in the colors of my life. Paint Your picture, Father, And fashion a heart that is wholly Yours
Take Your fingers, God. Master Potter, Come mold the clay. Tell Your story as You mold me Fashion a heart that is wholly Yours
And write Your name, write Your name In the clay. And sign Your name, sign Your name On the picture.

Take all I am. Take all I have. I am Yours forever, forever...

It is such a beautiful song which I had the honor to dance to with a group of wonderful women in seminary.

Painting is a creative expression of self. This is something any of us can do, no matter our skill level. In various classes over the years, I've been given painting prompts just like Lisa-Jo gives writing prompts and it almost always surprises me to see what comes out of it. We learn about ourselves when we get creative in our communication.

But I want to get back to the song-- to think that we are art on God's canvas is such an amazing image. If we ever think we aren't beautiful or that our life doesn't have meaning...just remember that The Artist of Life, the Master Potter has a hand in who we are, who we were and who we are becoming.

God has written God's name all over our lives and has claimed us as masterpieces. We can respond by living as beautifully as we were created. As we co-create with God, let's make our lives and the world a beautiful living testament to the Artist of Life.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Reflections on "Surprised by Motherhood"

As a mentioned in a recent post, Lisa Jo Baker just released “Surprised By Motherhood.” I read it in two days (which with my lack of down time is saying something!). Here are some of my responses to what she wrote: 

 Embarrassed to be caught without clothes on in front her husband shortly after their first son was born, her husband looked her in the eyes and said, 

“You are beautiful don't you dare be embarrassed in front of me.” (p.81)

 I have definitely found myself in similar situations since my son was born. Flab where there wasn't flab before, and my word the stretch marks! I looked like I had gotten attacked by a tiger. Now they are faded, but they still aren't pretty. But my husband insists I'm still beautiful, if not more. Which made me wonder--- is it just us? 

 Do we women put this pressure on ourselves and each other to get back into the pre-pregnancy jeans? And while we're on that subject, how is it that I lost the pregnancy weight plus 15 pounds and I still don't fit in my pre-pregnancy jeans!? Well that's not fair, I do fit into one pair....my fat pants! My husband never hounded me to fit back in them and yet it became an obsession to me. 

 Be honest...have you ever looked at other moms and thought about her weight vs. how old the baby is?? I think it's women more than men...and specifically other mothers...that put the pressure on each other to get “back to normal.” So women, let's stop. Let's stop looking, judging and especially commenting! It's OK to be concerned about someone's health and if you want to compliment them by all means go ahead! But please don't comment negatively on a fellow momma's post-baby body.


 “Becoming a parent is a lot like breaking up with yourself” (p.86) 

Yes! Amen, sister. This is something after 18 months I'm still coming to terms with. But the sooner you get over the break-up, the happier you'll be! Everyone mourns the loss of their old life in their own way, because life is never the same again after having children. It's not a bad thing; it's an adjustment. How long it takes to adjust depends on the person. Lisa-Jo also expressed, 

“As much as we crave shortcuts or explanations or formulas, one day will end and another will begin, and it will be different until it isn't. Until it starts to slowly make sense and we've found our balance.” (p. 83). 

 To which I laughed because it seems every time we adapt and start to find a rhythm and balance, it all changes again. You finally understand their newborn schedule and then they start teething.... you get used to that and then they learn to crawl....then they learn to walk... and so on. Kids are always changing and adapting and we need to change and adapt with them. 

“But this—this was a new rhythm, and my body was awkwardly fumbling toward the beat.” (p.90) 

 While I'm not as cluelessly overwhelmed as 18 hours into motherhood, I am still awkwardly fumbling 18-months into it. And some weeks you hobble through. AND THAT'S OK. You're not alone. 

 The first paragraph on p. 113 had me nodding and agreeing aloud as I read. She explains how all-consuming being a stay-at-home mom is. 

 “You dread the 'what did you do today?' question as you rack your brain to come up with more than, 'clean up after the kids.'”

Yes, Lisa-Jo, thank you! and also in my case, “chase after my son.”  Being a stay-at-home mom is the most underpaid and unappreciated job there is!  

 Lisa-Jo beautifully explained an experience she had in church with her son on page 128. As she held him and they had a love-moment during worship she began to understand God's love on a deeper level. This is one that I've gotten to know over the last 18-months and it's really helped me in my ministry. 

 People will come to me and express how they are unworthy of God's love. How they've messed up too much, gone too far, ran out of chances, and the building would surely fall down around them if they walked in. But here's something parents know-- no matter what their child does, they still love them. A parent's love for a child is unconditional. And the same is true for God. We are God's children and no matter what we've done we can be forgiven if we're sorry. God loves us like a parent loves their child times infinity. I contemplate on how much I love my child and I am overwhelmed to think that God loves me like this and even more! If you ever wonder if God loves you, the answer is, *more than you can possibly imagine.*

 One of things I really love about this book is that Lisa-Jo also shows the dark side of parenting. The messy bits that people don't talk about or even like to admit. Such as this:

 “Sometimes you don't realize you have a temper until you have kids...There's no rage like the exhausted rage of motherhood. These are the things they don't talk about in the parenting books or playgroups or coffee dates.” (134) “It's easy to let the temper pour out of you like a hot rush of lava...With clenched fists and jaw and gut, you have a wild meltdown easily as irrational as your kids'.” (135). 

 These are the grown-up temper tantrums no one tells you about. And I believe type-A-controlling-type moms are especially susceptible to them. Us moms with control issues have to learn quickly that we can't control others. We can parent our children, but when they do something outside what we want or expect, a temper tantrum is not going to make the situation any better. Children like to control us and one way they do that is by doing something they aren't suppose to to get us to do that temper-tantrum thing again.

Parenthood is an amazing responsibility that changes us in ways we never thought imaginable. It teaches us things about ourselves that we couldn't have known without this experience, even things that seem so obvious after-the-fact. It shows us how truly deep love can go. With any transformation it stretches you, alters you and you can never go back to who you were before. A good summation is what Lisa-Jo said toward the end of the book: 

 “I don't know who these children will grow up to be. But I know that they have grown me up and dragged me out of myself. I have the scars to prove it.” (p.193).

Thank you Lisa-Jo for such a beautifully honest book.  

Friday, April 4, 2014

Fellowship

I was reading another blogger and she wrote about fellowship.  At the bottom she asked readers what fellowship meant to us.  http://raisingamommy.blogspot.com/2014/03/fellowship

This really got me thinking...


Fellowship is a beautiful thing.  It's something I'm finding less and less in church and more and more with religious friends...does that make any sense?  (It's certainly found in church, but it's harder for pastors, I think).

Fellowship is bearing your soul to others and them accepting it...drying your tears, offering a prayer or Communion.  Fellowship is friends feeling free enough to bear their soul to you... and when the tears are dried, continue EATING!  It's laughing and talking about those things you couldn't talk about with anyone else.  It's about taking care of each other.  It's about getting to know each other...really...on a deep level.

 It's about talking God.  Not just Scripture or religion....but GOD.

It's about celebrating with each other when we're up and mourning with each other when we're down.  It's about being there. It's about caring how your interview went...what your test result was... how your grandma is doing... how your house search is coming along... and so much more.

Fellowship is about community building in a world that is seriously lacking community. I miss the fellowship I had in seminary.  Almost every picture that came to mind while writing this was time I spent with the women I went to seminary with.

Fellowship is something I need to be more intentional about finding and including in my life.  Fellowship is healing and joyful.  Fellowship is a piece of a full life.

What does fellowship mean to you and where do you find it?

Five Minute Friday-- Writer

It's another Lisa-Jo Baker Five Minute Friday  http://lisajobaker.com/ (she just wrote an awesome book)--- write for five minutes on the word given.  Today's word:  Writer. 

What does it mean to be a “writer?” Does it mean you have to be published? Does it mean you have to have perfect grammar?  Does it mean you need your peers approval or better yet acclamation to bear the title? Do you have to get paid to do it?

Or can it just be a hobby? One you may or may not be any good at but brings you joy...or at least satisfaction... I've never really considered myself a writer. But now writing is a large portion of my job. Does that make me a writer? I don't know. But I like to do it.


I think a writer is one who records thoughts, stories, events, emotions and more. Many people do it really well. Many writers are able to touch their readers and change them. If I can do this even for one person, I would be happy. But in the meantime, I enjoy recording thoughts, stories, events and emotions.


Five Minute Friday

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Surprised By Motherhood

One of my favorite bloggers, Lisa-Jo Baker (and I almost said friend, because honestly when you're a part of her community she makes you feel that way) wrote a book, “Surprised By Motherhood” and it comes out today. I read the first three chapters and they were amazing. I get to read the rest of it when my amazon pre-order shipment comes. I will impatiently wait until tomorrow or possibly Thursday for it to arrive. http://lisajobaker.com/surprised-by-motherhood/

In the meantime, Lisa-Jo asked women to write on their blogs what has surprised us about motherhood. Here is what has surprised me about motherhood:


First, I have a secret.....I never really wanted kids. I didn't think I'd have any. But one day I got a negative pregnancy test (wasn't trying) and I felt....disappointed. I was surprised. I was surprised that my so-not-a-kid-person self would be disappointed to receive a “not yet” from a pregnancy test. And is that a tear?! Yes, I even mourned the loss of this child that never even was. This dream of a child I conjured in my head. I was surprised I wanted to be a mom. That's when my husband and I started really talking about our future as parents.

I had/have a number of medical conditions that caused doctors to tell us it may not happen and if it does it will take a while and/or be a difficult pregnancy and delivery. Well we got pregnant on our first try! Surprise! And it was a difficult pregnancy and delivery (68 hour labor....yes....that happened).


I was surprised I did it. That I could do it. After everything the doctors told me, after every anxious, paranoid thought that ran through my mind, after all the sleepless nights, I did it.
I went to school for 20 years and received two degrees with honors. After ALL that work, years and years of work, I was surprised to realize that I consider my son to be my greatest accomplishment.

During my pregnancy and especially after, I was surprised to find how deep love goes. I could never, ever, possibly imagine loving someone the way I love my son. There is no explaining it. It changed me. And somehow I fall more in love with him everyday. Just when you think you couldn't love someone more, you do. I am surprised at how much I kiss him – sometimes just to get a whiff of that amazing scent (seriously, can we find a way to bottle that?)


I was also surprised to find how all-consuming it is. There is no break. No off-switch. No spring break or summer vacation. Even when my husband and I go on a rare date, I still worry about him, think about him, talk about him. I continue to be surprised at how this so-not-a-kid-person could want to spend so much time with a kid. As much as I ache for a break at times, if I'm away from him for a few hours I miss him. Really.

There are new surprises everyday. His first smile, the first time he rolled over (naked), his first tooth, the first time he crawled (naked), the first time he laughed, the first time he pulled himself up (naked), the first time he said mama, the first time he walked (naked), the first time he exclaimed, “I did it!” I feel so proud of him everyday. (I also feel frustrated, overwhelmed, joyful, and about 50 other emotions in the course of a day).

I've learned that you can't know what the future holds because motherhood never stops surprising you. I was all excited for today, to write this blog and launch my own project-- “365 Days to a more Fulfilling Life” (found here: http://learningtogrowdaringtolove.blogspot.com/2014/04/365-days-to-more-fulfilling-life.html) and then in the middle of the night my son woke up with a 103.4 fever, the highest it's ever been and I. Was. Terrified. Motherhood is not something you can learn in books, it's something you learn on the job. You could read in a book what to do if your child has a high fever, but it's another thing completely to feel your too-warm baby and see 103.4 staring back at you on the thermometer.


Not knowing what the next day or even the next hour will bring can be exhilarating or terrifying. But I am trying to live in the moment. To enjoy it, savor it, count my blessings and thank God for them. Motherhood is full of surprises and I take them – good or bad – one day at a time.   


365 Days to a more Fulfilling Life



This year during Lent I decided to try something new. I found a list of spiritual practices and did one each day. I enjoyed the list so much, I didn't want it to end when Lent was over. But I wanted the list to incorporate other aspects of life as well, not just spirituality. I wanted to follow a list that would make life more fulfilling and enjoyable. So I created this list. It starts on April 20, 2014 and ends April 19, 2015. This is a list I am going to do my best to stick with and I'm hoping others will join me. Following the Lenten list was fulfilling, but would have been even more so if I had been following it with a group.

If you are interested in joining me in the this year-long project, here's some information before you get started.
  • The list begins with “Attend an Easter Service” but it is not an exclusively Christian list. You will find holy days from many of the major world religions on the list.
  • You do not have to stick with the order exactly as it's presented, but some days are date-specific, such as August 10th's “Check out tonight's super-moon.” Obviously life happens and you won't be able to do everything on the list-- for instance you have to go to a wedding on the day it says, “play golf.” If you have a completely full day or an emergency and you don't get to that arts and crafts project, it's understandable. If you miss a day, a week or even a month, don't beat yourself up, just pick it back up when you're ready.
  • Due to medical conditions and physical limitations not everyone will be able to do everything on this list (like ice skating). Please don't attempt anything you aren't able to do.
  • Each month includes, “Do one random act of kindness.” These are for you to decide. Some examples would include: paying the toll for the person behind you, getting someone coffee who isn't expecting it, making your partner breakfast in bed, etc...
  • There is also a charitable donation day every month. I know everyone is in different financial situations, please give what you are able, even it's $5.
  • Some items will need planning, so make sure you read ahead.
  • At the end of each month there is a writing exercise. Just sit down and write anything that comes to mind on that word. Don't edit it; just write for five minutes. You don't have to show it to anyone; it's just for you to reflect on.
  • I hope this list brings you a more fulfilling life. Enjoy and God bless! 

       April

    20- Attend an Easter Service.
    21- Write about where you think this list will take you and how it will change you.
    22- Watch funny videos on youtube
    23- Do something nice for a secretary (if you don't know one, do something nice for someone else).
    24- Write yourself three letters, one to be opened in 1 year, 5 years, 10 years. Write where you think you'll be by that time. Ask yourself questions.
    25- Do a random act of kindness
    26- Exercise 3x for 10 minutes throughout the day. (30 minutes total)
    27- Learn more about Passover (the Jewish holiday that just passed).
    28- Don't compare yourself to anyone else today.
    29- Buy an extra umbrella and give it to someone who doesn't have one. If it's not raining today, save this one for a rainy day.
    30- Write for five minutes on the word: “family.”

    May

    1- Learn more about May Day.
    2- Post status: “What's the funniest movie you've ever seen?” Choose one from the replies and watch one of them.
    3- Do nothing for 5 minutes.
    4- Grab a paper and pen. Write down the first 10 things that come to mind: What's most important to you?
    5- Happy Cinco de Mayo. Have a Mexican feast and learn more about Mexico.
    6- Thank a nurse.
    7- Write someone a letter.
    8- Eat vegetarian today.
    9- Know that country you've heard of, know nothing about and couldn't even place on a map? Look it up, learn about it.
    10- Play in the dirt/Garden
    11- Dance today and thank the mothers in your life.
    12- Find time to relax today, even if you have to hide in the bathroom to do so.
    13- Pretend the power is out. Use electricity only when necessary (fridge, medical items)...
    14- Learn more about Vesak. Meditate or visit a Buddhist Temple.
    15- Buy bubbles and sidewalk chalk.... play with them, then leave the rest on the sidewalk with a sign that reads: “free—enjoy spring!”
    16- Bake a cake from scratch.
    17- Write down where you see yourself in 5 years. If you have a partner, ask them to do the same. Talk about it.
    18- Don't multitask technology (no playing on your phone/computer while watching TV)
    19- Learn more about those that are differently-abled (blind, deaf, paralyzed...)
    20- Do a random act of kindness
    21- Clean out your closet, junk drawer, basement... wherever your dumping ground may be.
    22- Put money in your savings account.
    23- Find something cool to do in the next town, city, or state. Go do it.
    24- Play ball with friends or go to the batting cages.
    25- Pray for children, particularly missing children and victims of violence.
    26- Pray for soldiers, veterans and their families. Pray for victims of war. Pray for peace.
    27- Donate to your favorite charitable organization.
    28-Give urself, a grammar refresher too make; sure your using the write words and punctuation? :)
    29- Go for a walk and introduce yourself to a neighbor.
    30- Tell someone stories from your childhood.
    31- Write for five minutes on the word: “happiness.”

    June

    1- Donate diapers, wipes or formula to someone in need.
    2- Draw the Divine, then look up “God” artwork and see how other people imagine the Divine.
    3- Think about everything you throw away today—could it be recycled or donated? Are there reusable alternatives?
    4- Buy yourself some new sheets.
    5- Watch youtube videos that teach the basics of a foreign language.
    6- Go to the library.
    7- Host a pot luck meal and ask friends to bring a dish from their heritage-- celebrate diversity deliciously.
    8- Notice where God is working in your life.
    9- Go outside, look up at the sky, look around and find something of beauty you haven't noticed before.
    10- Read a best seller.
    11- Set a goal, write down the steps you need to take, start today.
    12- What's that thing you remember being bad at but haven't tried in a while? Try it again.
    13- Watch improv everywhere videos on youtube.
    14- Go on a fancy date or a night on the town with friends.
    15- Thank the fathers in your life.
    16- No added sugar/artificial sweetener day.
    17- Learn more about where your clothes came from.
    18- Do a random act of kindness
    19- Read at a local library (either read aloud to kids or just something to yourself)
    20- Learn more about the issues in West Virginia.
    21- Play a game you loved as a kid (dodgeball, kickball, bells out, laser tag) – Enjoy Summer!
    22- Plant something (either literally or creatively)
    23- Leave a gift card at the gas pump.
    24- Eat vegan today
    25- Donate your old magazines
    26- Go on a picnic, look at the clouds.
    27- Watch one of your favorite shows.
    28- Go to a game-- whether it's Little League or Major League (or watch one on TV).
    29- Learn more about Ramadan. Fast for one meal.
    30- Write for five minutes on the word: “adventure.”


    July

    1- What are the funniest memories you can think of? Share one with somebody.
    2- Buy someone flowers
    3- Go on a weekend trip. If you can't afford it, look at pictures of a foreign country and learn more about their culture.
    4- Enjoy fireworks
    5- Ride on something you don't usually ride on (bike, skates, bus, train, boat)
    6- Do a random act of kindness
    7- Leave your comfort zone today
    8- Take a walk, really notice things
    9- Thank your favorite teacher
    10- Drink only water as your beverage today
    11- Research the difference among: conventional, organic, and local foods.
    12- Spend time with friends or family
    13- Say sorry for something you've done in the distant or recent past
    14- Get a map of the U.S.A., close your eyes, point. Learn more about that state.
    15- Grab paper and pen, set a timer for 5 minutes; write down what you are thankful for.
    16- Read “Half the Sky” or another book that will change your world view (if you aren't much of a reader, it's now a documentary).
    17- Contemplate: If you had to get a tattoo, what would it be? Why? Draw it.
    18- Write a letter to a child (they like the attention).
    19- Go (mini) golfing
    20- Start a DIY project (do-it-yourself)
    21- Pray for the people that are the most challenging for you to love.
    22- Forgive someone.
    23- Try a new food.
    24- No processed food day
    25- Go to a religious service outside your own faith this weekend.
    26- Host a charity car wash or other function (if you really can't plan something like this, encourage others to join you in donating to charity on the 29th).
    27- Watch your favorite childhood movie.
    28- Reconnect with your partner (or other close friend/family member).
    29- Learn about Eid al-Fitr. Give to charity (perhaps the money you raised on the 26th?)
    30- Don't go on the internet today unless you absolutely have to.
    31- Write for five minutes on the word: “healing.”

    August

    1- Read some jokes and tell one.
    2- Be kind to your body (treat yourself to a massage, stretch, take a bubble bath).
    3- Exercise outside
    4- Go to a one-time ceramics class (or a Color-Me-Mine sort of place).
    5- Snail mail a birthday card.
    6- Eat a Popsicle/freeze pop/water ice...
    7- Do a random act of kindness
    8- Read the local paper and pray for the people and situations.
    9- Go to the beach or a pool (or just splash in the bath tub).
    10- Check out the super-moon tonight.
    11- Learn more about plastic island (The Great Pacific Garbage Patch)
    12- Buy something for someone who isn't expecting it.
    13- Go to the magazine rack, pick one at random. Read it, learn something new.
    14- Use less water today.
    15- Buy a dozen flowers and hand them out to random people, say something nice.
    16- Do something that makes you smile.
    17- Enjoy your food! Don't scarf it down or eat on the go. Savor it.
    18- Give thanks for love.
    19- You know that thing you've always been meaning to try? Get started!
    20- Ask your friends to tell you about their faith.
    21- Do something kind for a senior citizen.
    22- Move your furniture, attempt feng shui... or at least dust.
    23- Go on a day trip.
    24- Watch old family videos or pull out the slide projector.
    25- Check out stumbleupon.com
    26- If possible, find out what your grandparents/ great-grandparents did for a living.
    27- Pull up a map of Asia, close your eyes, point to a country. Learn more about it.
    28- You know that item that's been on your to-do list forever? (organize box of old photos, clean the garage..) Do it!
    29- Set this as your status: “What is your favorite charity?” Donate to one of them.
    30- Challenge yourself today.
    31- Write for five minutes on the word, “wholeness.”

    September

    1- Host a get-together or take food to the one you're invited to.
    2- Light a candle. Watch it for 5 minutes. Try not to think sbout anything else.
    3- Know that bad habit you've been meaning to quit? (smoking, knuckle cracking, gossiping) Today's Day 1. Congrats, Good Luck.
    4- Listen to a musical artist you've never listened to before.
    5- Do a chore for a neighbor (carry groceries, mow lawn, rake leaves)
    6- Visit a historical site.
    7- Spend time with grandparents or reminiscing about them.
    8- Look into composting.
    9- Check out old files on your computer (papers you wrote in college, old pictures or videos).
    10- Forgive your past.
    11- Try your hand at something creative like: painting, drawing, sculpting, knitting, sowing, quilting, paper mache, scrapbooking, woodworking, etc...
    12- Google “art” and find your new favorite artist.
    13- Talk to someone you might not have talked to before.
    14- Give thanks for miracles.
    15- Donate to a children's charity.
    16- Read an old journal or start writing one (at least one entry).
    17- Eat breakfast food for dinner.
    18- Do a random act of kindness
    19- Take 10 minutes for yourself today.
    20- Go to a wine or food tasting (do chocolate tastings exist?)
    21- Go for an evening walk.
    22- Google “funny.” Enjoy what you find, share the laughs.
    23- Enjoy Fall!
    24- Educate yourself on racism.
    25-Go on pinterest.com and see what all the fuss is about or make a board if you are already a pinner.
    26- Learn more about Native American history and culture.
    27- Go pumpkin/apple picking (if you live somewhere that doesn't have this, find something fun to do in your town).
    28- Bake a pie.
    29- If you have kids, do some arts and crafts, if not, do some arts and crafts.
    30- Write for 5 minutes on the word: “excitement.”


    October

    1- Encounter an animal today (maybe not a bear...perhaps a turtle).
    2- Consider switching something to organic.
    3- Celebrate love
    4- Learn about Yom Kippur and Eid Al-adha. Pray, repent, give food to those in need.
    5- Buy an outfit/item of clothing that makes you feel great.
    6- Donate to a foreign cause.
    7- Go somewhere beautiful
    8- Call an old friend
    9- Get a map of South America, close your eyes, point. Learn more about that country.
    10- Practice an attitude of gratitude. Say thanks for everything you have, even simple things like working lights and an extra roll of toilet paper.
    11- Go to a museum.
    12- Do your best to get 8 hours of sleep.
    13- Learn more about your ancestry/culture.
    14- Get creative with food today.
    15- Learn more about learning disabilities.
    16- Pray for the people and situations in the news.
    17- Ask your friends what causes are most important to them.
    18- Think of someone who has done a lot for you. Ask them to dinner.
    19- Try a form of exercise you've never tried before.
    20- Congratulate yourself for making it half way through the list!
    21- Take a bath-- dim the lights, put on relaxing music, use scented bath oil or salts, enjoy. (A long shower is fine too).
    22- Look for ways you can use less electricity (turn off lights when not in the room, unplug chargers when not in use, etc)
    23- Educate yourself about Diwali and celebrate it if possible.
    24- Do an arts and crafts project or bake something.
    25- Go to a thrift shop.
    26- Check out pictures/videos of the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
    27- Do a random act of kindness
    28- Enjoy the leaves...rake them, take a walk in them...if there aren't any, look at pictures of leaves or make some leaf art.
    29- Write for five minutes on the word: “live (or life)”
    30- Play a harmless prank on someone who would appreciate it (example: put a 7 foot blow up Santa in someone's bathroom).
    31- Dress up for Halloween.


    November

    1- Rent a movie, have a low-key night in.
    2- Exercise while watching a show or while doing something else.
    3- Donate to a national non-profit.
    4- Vote.
    5- Give a kid a dollar for their piggy bank.
    6- Celebrate life.
    7- Go on an adventure outside.
    8- Have a painting party or just spend time with friends.
    9- Read a religious/spiritual article.
    10- Invest in a better pillow (or if yours in already awesome, upgrade something else).
    11- Bake your own bread
    12- Do a crossword puzzle
    13- Check out freecycle
    14- Smile at everyone you encounter
    15- Make a Thanksgiving centerpiece
    16- Do a jigsaw puzzle
    17- Learn more about endangered species
    18- Do something silly today
    19- Read the comics
    20- Eat gluten free today
    21- Clean off/out your nightstand
    22- Go ice skating
    23- Donate to the local food pantry or soup kitchen
    24- Take five minutes to just notice your breathing
    25- Be more open minded today; put yourself in others' shoes.
    26- Teach yourself how to do something using youtube, ehow, wikihow...
    27- Give thanks
    28- Do a random act of kindness
    29- Hug your loved ones and tell them you love them
    30- Write for five minutes on the word: “giving.”

    December

    1- Check out etsy.com, consider ordering something to support a small business.
    2- It's Giving Tuesday-- donate to charity
    3- Pull up a map of Europe, close your eyes, point to a country, learn more about it.
    4- Donate a toy to a children's home or a family in need (If you're on a budget, Dollar stores usually have dollar toys and Toys for Tots bins).
    5- Do a science experiment like you did when you were a kid (with a kid is even better)
    6- Celebrate St. Nicholas Day
    7- Look at pictures/video of the universe and marvel at its awe-someness.
    8- Set this as your status: “What was your favorite book as a child?” or “What is your child's favorite book?” Choose one from the replies and buy it for a child.
    9- Find a new recipe and try it out.
    10- Make sure you have some fun today!
    11- Challenge your friends to a contest of some sort.
    12- Make shadow puppets
    13- Do something silly like sing karaoke or play bingo.
    14- Look into eco-friendly wrapping options.
    15- Do a random act of kindness
    16- Pray for the people and situations on a news site or your facebook feed
    17- Listen to a genre of music you don't think you'd like.
    18- Reread your favorite book.
    19- Eat comfort food. Don't worry about the calories.
    20- Put money in your piggy bank; start one if you don't have one.
    21- Enjoy Winter!
    22- Take a walk outside.
    23- What comes to mind when you hear the word activist? Contemplate on your results.
    24- Attend a Christmas Eve service or learn more about the true meaning of Christmas.
    25- If you are Christian, make sure to include Jesus in your day and have fun. If you are not, have a nice day while all those Christians are at their family gatherings. :)
    26- Learn more about Kwanzaa.
    27- Floss.
    28- Buy someone a meal.
    29- Don't multi-task today.
    30- Write for five minutes on the word: “health.”
    31- Think back on the past year. Learn from your failures, forgive yourself for where you fell short, say thank you for your blessings, take a moment to revel in the goodness.

    January

    1- Set a resolution that serves you that you'll actually keep.
    2- Check out edx.org
    3- Read your friends' blogs.
    4- Use a crock pot if you have one, if not, make homemade soup.
    5- Look into classes for something you're interested in.
    6- Attempt Yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi or Qigong
    7- Give someone that gift card you'll never use (maybe a broke college student or a struggling family)
    8- Visit your local recycling center or just learn more about recycling/upcycling/freecycling
    9- LAUGH!
    10- Do something nerdy today.
    11- Eat five servings of fruits and veggies.
    12- Do someone's chore.
    13- Meditate for 5 minutes.
    14- Make someone a meal.
    15- Go for a walk outside.
    16- Pull up a map of Africa, close your eyes and point. Learn more about that country.
    17- Learn a new word today.
    18- Turn the heat down one degree.
    19- MLK Jr. Day-- Volunteer somewhere.
    20- Get crafty!
    21- Don't consume caffeine or alcohol today.
    22- No complaining today.. Every time you feel negativity surfacing, replace it with positivity.
    23- Do something local (go see a game, a band, etc).
    24- Do a random act of kindness.
    25- Go to the movies or rent one.
    26- Take the Myers-Briggs personality test.
    27- Donate supplies to a local school.
    28- Learn basic ASL signs.
    29- Say a prayer .
    30- Clean the laundry room/area (if you go to the laundromat, leave a couple extra quarters on the machine).
    31- Write for five minutes on the word: “faith.”

    February

    1- Watch the sun rise or set
    2- Watch Groundhog Day
    3- Make someone a heartfelt gift
    4- Learn more about civil rights
    5- Do a random act of kindness
    6- Wear Red, learn more about heart health
    7- Read or listen to an opinion different from your own
    8- Remember a loved one who has passed. Ask others to tell you stories about them.
    9- Try a guided meditation
    10- Exercise for 30 minutes
    11- Call or visit someone you haven't seen in a while
    12- Make Valentines
    13- Read some quotes about peace and pray for it.
    14- Give Valentines out to everyone you encounter.
    15- Educate yourself on Nirvana Day. Meditate or visit a Buddhist Temple today.
    16- Donate blood or bone marrow or donate money to a disaster organization like ARC or UMCOR
    17- Eat Doughnuts or Pancakes
    18- Make time for spiritual practice today.
    19- Learn more about Chinese culture, Happy New Year!
    20- Cut down on junk mail. Cancel subscriptions to catalogs you never use or also get through email.
    21- Know that person you've been meaning to see? Go see them!
    22- Don't shop today.
    23- Build a fort or something else that reminds you of childhood.
    24- Listen to sacred music.
    25- Watch a movie-- let someone else choose it.
    26- Ask an older family member to tell you stories you've never heard before.
    27- Write for five minutes on the word: “regrets.”
    28- Have a themed night.

    March

    1- Find a new recipe and try it out
    2- Learn more about women's issues and donate to a non-profit that serves women.
    3- Watch a documentary.
    4- Post a message on an old friend's Facebook wall (or call, text, send a card).
    5- Celebrate Purim
    6- Don't use disposable products today.
    7- Pick up the check for someone at a restaurant or diner.
    8- What's the funniest movie you've ever seen? Watch it.
    9- Donate time, money or items to a local charity/religious organization.
    10- Play hide and go seek.
    11- Listen to a CD/album from your youth.
    12- Sing in the shower...go on...belt it out.
    13- Clean out your car.
    14- Go bowling.
    15- Set status, “What is your favorite book/blog/video game/movie/TV show?” (whichever you are most interested in): choose one to read/play/watch.
    16- Make a photo album or a DVD of home movies.
    17- Go for a walk in a park.
    18- Support a local business.
    19- Learn something new.
    20- Enjoy Spring!
    21- Play board games.
    22- Write a bucket list and check out bucketlist.org
    23- Go to a comedy club.
    24- Spring clean your facebook friend list.
    25- Educate yourself on past slavery.
    26- Do a random act of kindness.
    27- Check your blood pressure and BMI: Are they where you want them to be?
    28- Educate yourself on current slavery.
    29- Give sincere compliments.
    30- Read a religious/spiritual magazine, book or blog.
    31- Write for five minutes on the word: “soul.”

    April

    1-Play with play doh
    2- Wash someone's feet
    3- Face a fear.
    4- Have a low-key day with family.
    5-Tell someone about your faith.
    6- Educate yourself on sexism.
    7-Pull up a map of the world, close your eyes, point to a country, learn more about it.
    8- Donate to goodwill, church flea market or thrift shop.
    9- Pull out your old yearbooks (or pictures) and reminisce.
    10- Do a random act of kindness.
    11- Go hiking on a trail.
    12- Make someone a card.
    13- Re-try a food you remember not liking.
    14- Think about the issue you feel most strongly about-- now research and argue the other side to yourself. How did it make you feel? What did you learn? Did it change the way you feel about the people who hold a differing opinion?
    15- Pick a random friend and compliment them.
    16- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
    17- Watch a funny movie with a group of friends (or family).
    18- Write for five minutes on the word: “Goal”
    19- Reflect on your favorite moments from the list, how it has changed your life and how you want to incorporate items from the list into your life.





    Celebrate! You've completed the list!!