How To Make the Most Of Thanksgiving

As I start thinking about Thanksgiving, I am filled with A LOT of mixed emotions.  Growing up, it was a day filled with football games (Neptune vs Asbury), family and lots of food.  Then, life changed and I don’t really remember much of the time between family gatherings and being a mom.  I know we celebrated but they are some of the memories lost in my brain.  Then came Belinda and recovery.  Reuniting with my dad and the other side of the family.  Thanksgiving was one of the two holidays which were “dad” holidays.  This year, is filled with LOTS of emotions.  I am celebrating eighteen months clean and blessed to be having TWO thanksgivings.  Hubby took Wednesday off so we will celebrate with mom on Wednesday and then Thanksgiving Day with Patti and the crew.  I’m sure I will cry lots of tears.  Sad Belinda will again not be home for the holidays and for those who are no longer with us (definitely going to miss Dad’s mashed potatoes.)

The best advice I can give it to take time out to truly appreciate this special day of thanks.  Here are some tips to make this year’s Thanksgiving the most festive and fun-filled yet.

1. Plan ahead for the day you want

It sounds simple, but your ideal holiday won’t materialize unless you make it happen. Maybe you envision a formal Thanksgiving dinner complete with centerpieces, nameplates and an elegant menu. If that’s your plan, spell it out ahead of time. If you want potluck, paper plates, jeans and football, plan it and let people know. Share your desires openly with family, i.e. “I hope you will stay all day so we can have lots of time together”—to create the day you want.

2. Think about timing

It may sound like a no-brainer, but the timing of your dinner can impact the entire day. If you call your mealtime too early, you might get stressed with the-time crunch of meal prep (unless you’ve done most of it in the days before). Some like to eat later in order to enjoy appetizers and the anticipation of the holiday meal all day. Or maybe you have guests who are going to be glued to a particular football game during the day. Growing up dinner was always at 5PM, it gave everyone time to get home from the game, rest and be ready to eat since mom-mom very seldom let us in the kitchen to help (or at least I don’t remember her letting us).  Be sure to consider all of these variables and plan accordingly.

3. Relax your expectations

When I have company, this is the toughest thing for me to do!  Without dwelling on it, acknowledge something will likely go wrong with your day, but that’s OK. A quirky uncle might say something, well, quirky. Someone might not show up who said they would. If you want to have the best possible holiday, roll with the punches. (Rest assured: No one’s Thanksgiving is perfect.)

4. Set up a kids’ table

LOL.  A random memory of when we had family dinners at our house.  The kids table was ALWAYS in the kitchen but close enough to the dining room.  I know this isn’t the kin of table they are talking about but it was a great random memory.  How about letting the kids help make construction-paper place mats for their special table. It’s fun for kids to eat away from the adults, and you are likely to hear lots of giggles, too.  We still have two tables when we eat Thanksgiving – one in the dining room and one in the kitchen.  Unfortunately, there aren’t many little ones (yet) to have kids and adults at separate tables.

5. Take a moment to observe

Take a moment during the festivities to stop doing and just notice what is happening all around you. Watch your family as an observer; what do you see? When we stop scurrying around in host (or guest) mode, we can absorb our blessings: family, friends, a nice home, good food, our health, a break from work, laughter and more. When you stop to pay attention, we enjoy the day more fully and create vivid memories.  This has been one of the greatest gifts of recovery…. being present in the moment!

6. Take a walk

So much food, so many people, so much indoor time—you could really use a little fresh air to slow your day down and take a moment to breathe in the crisp air. Walking after a big meal wakes you up and helps you digest. Even if it’s cold, bundle up and enjoy your holiday with a brisk walk.

7. Don’t clean up right away

Thanksgiving dinner can take hours to prepare, and if you start cleaning up as soon as your meal is finished, when do you actually get to enjoy it? Cleaning up also can send the unintended message it’s time for guests to stop conversing and start helping or even leave. Enjoy the conversation fully before you pick up all the plates. Consider having dessert an hour or more after dinner to encourage family members and friends to relax, connect and stick around for a while.

8. Remember what the day is about

It’s isn’t just turkey, football and pies. Thanksgiving is truly about coming together as a family to give thanks. Focus on your blessings, and your own happiness and appreciation will infuse your holiday and guests with joy.

Share your favorite Thanksgiving memory with us…. Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday: Expectations

Expectations is defined in the dictionary as “a belief someone will or should achieve something“.  I actually like the NA definition better “Expectations are premeditated resentments”.

Do you have expectations of yourself or others?  I will admit, I have lots of them.  I am working on getting rid of them because they really are the stepping stone for resentment and anger.  So, why then would I be grateful for expectations, right?  Because having them allows me to learn and grow…

imagesLet’s start with the expectations we have for ourselves.  If you are like me, they are pretty high and as a result, I seldom reach the level of perfection I expect of myself.  I know, no one is perfect BUT don’t we set those milestones for ourselves.  Thinking we can handle everything, juggling all the balls in the air – motherhood, work, life, and whatever else comes our way.  The word “NO” seldom escapes from our lips because we “expect” we will be able to everything.  Self expectations allow my inner gremlins to have a field day in my head. Expectations  of others  leaves  me  feeling  frustrated,  angry  and disappointed.  Whether it is business or in love, setting expectations whether they be realistic or not is a setup for disaster.  If  the  words  would  of,  could  of  or  should  of  are  part  of  sentence,  I know I am  in  trouble.

Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings the words invoke.  The longer you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down the inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop the label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How can I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a blessed day!

How To Get Your Kids to Clean Their Room

Belinda may be grown BUT I do remember the battle for her to keep her room clean – okay, even neat would have been nice.  I was grateful company never had to walk past her room to get to the bathroom or I could just close her door….  What about you?  Do you struggle to get your kids to clean up their room?  Are things tossed EVERY WHERE???

If you’re a parent, you have heard the endless excuses your kids can come up with when it’s time to clean their rooms.  From “I’ll do it later!” to “I’m too tired,” we’ve heard them all! The truth is, we probably used them ourselves at some point in our life, right?  Here are a few tricks to help make the room-cleaning battle a bit easier.

1. Set clear, realistic expectations

What is clean to us may not be clean to our kids.  We need to set age-appropriate goals to help them recognize when their room is “clean.”  For a three-year-old, a clean room could simply mean books are on the shelf, toys in their place and dirty clothes in the hamper. Yet for an eight-year-old, there could be the added responsibility of making their bed or putting clean clothes away.  The key is we need to share our expectations with our children.  Maybe even give them a list of what to do and if they can’t read, use pictures with the words.

2. Let your kids OWN their space

Belinda’s room was her room – seems like a no-brainer, right?  I let her make her own decisions but often gave her just two choices I could leave with – whether it was picking out her clothes, what color her room was or what game to play.  I never thought about giving her a .choice about where things went in  her room… It did get better once we put the closet organizer in with shelves and a spot to hang her clothes.

primaryFor some kids, putting toys, games and clothes away is never fun – except when there’s a monster involved! Here is a unique craft idea to turn Thirty One’s  Your Way® Cube or Your Way® Rectangle storage bin into a fun monster kids can keep their belongings in.

Not only does it help keep bedrooms and toy rooms neat, it makes a great decoration and an adorable gift your kids will love. I’m pretty sure this is one monster your kids will want under their beds … or in their closets!

image1Here is what you will need:

  • 1 white sticky-back foam sheet (color optional)
  • Pair of sticky-back googly eyes – size and number of eyes optional
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • FREE monster teeth template (Your Way® Cube and Rectangle sizes included)
  • Glue stick (for other/additional design options)

How to make it:

  1. Choose either a Your Way® Cube with matching Cube Lid or Your Way® Rectangle with matching Rectangle Lid in the color or print you want your monster to be.
  2. Print out the monster teeth template below and cut two rows of teeth for your cube or rectangle from the sticky-back foam sheet. If you prefer, you can also design your own teeth, but be sure to measure the window or panel of your bin first.
  3. Peel and stick the teeth to either the clear PVC window or chalkboard panel of your bin, aligning the flat edges to the top and bottom edge.
  4. Next, identify the front-facing edge of your lid, and place it on your bin. This will help you decide on the placement of your googly eyes.
  5. Now, peel and stick the eyes in place to the front-facing edge of the lid. You made a monster!

 

Add even more embellishments, if you’d like: Maybe some foam-sheet spots in a contrasting color, or eyelashes, horns, ears or a nose. Maybe even glue a little faux fur or feathers to the lid for hair!

Consider stacking up a few monster cubes to create a fun tower shape or line them up on shelves to create a monster row. The most important thing to remember is to have fun and be creative!  Click the link:  Monster Teeth Template to get the teeth

 

3. Set a good example

Kids learn by example, right?  They learn from what we do, and not from what we say.  I’m sure you have said it at least once “Do as I say, not as I do”… Admit it, we all have.  Honestly, sometimes it’s easier to say, “Clean your room!” and walk away than to actually go in and HELP our kids.  Sometimes, it takes just that!  If your child is resisting, why not get down on the floor and help.  When you do the work together, you are setting a good example of how families help each other – and it actually is a chance to spend  some quality time talking and bonding with your child.

I wish we had personalized containers like The Littles Carry-All Caddies, Mini Storage Bins and Your Way Cubes when Belinda was younger.  They are the perfect size for storing toys, extra clothes and other stuff which clutter up a child’s room. Plus, they can be personalized with your child’s name, a favorite picture or animal (using our Icon-Its) or anything else you come up with.  Have some fun with your kids and let them help in personalizing the storage and organization products for their rooms.

How do you help your children keep their space neat and tidy? Show us your organized kids’ rooms by sharing your photos on social media – we love seeing how you put Thirty-One’s  products to use. Tag us with #partywithHope

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Throwback Thursday: Dream Big

I was scrolling through old blog posts for inspiration.  Sometimes I get stuck – wondering what to write about or if any one would notice if I recycled an old post then SMACK, I remember I would would know the difference.  Sometimes an old post pertains to what is happening now in my life so it could stand another look…

Back in 2014, St. Pauls’ UMC did a church-wide study during Lent called “Daring to Dream”.  Back then, I was in the midst of letting fear keep me from letting my dreams soar.  Funny, I am back in the same spot and I am not even sure why.

On Easter Sunday, Pastor gave a sermon entitled “Dream Busters – Dream Builders” which in a nutshell was about faith, hope and the love of Christ which enables us to fly on the wings of God’s dreams for us.  I looked back at my notes from the sermon and at the book we were reading and it was yet another wake up call for me.  I say it a lot but God is always working in my life, allowing me glimpses of what he has in store for me.   Yes, I get scared but not scared enough to keep me from reaching for those dreams. Sometimes it is just enough fear to keep me focused and working towards his dreams for me.Here are the three dream busters which keep us from reaching our full potential:

  1. Yesterday’s failures. I know I am not alone in allowing the shackles of guilt and shame to continue to bind me. Of course, not as often as they used to but guilt about past mistakes do continue to haunt me.  I rehash the mistake over and over until I finally turn it over to God and let it go.  Sound familiar?
  2. Today’s frustration.  Are my personal expectations too high? YES! Do I compare myself to others (personally and professionally)? YES!  Perfect Polly creeps in on occasion and convinces me if I’m not “perfect”, I will never achieve my dreams. WRONG! It is NOT about perfection, it is about the journey. One of my favorite mantras.
  3. Tomorrow fears. Some days, I don’t even know what I am fearful of – fear of success, fear of not measuring up, fear of disappointing others or fear of failing?  Or is fear just an excuse for not trying?

Once we know what is busting our dreams, when can figure out how to change the dream busters into dream builders?

  1. Doubts dispelled. I need to remind myself daily with God all things are possible. Remember the mustard seed? I keep a mustard seed jar close (a gift from my Director) to remind me of this message.  Because as long as you have a small amount of faith, things are possible.
  2. Despair dispersed with confidence and hope.  I never realized what a control person I was until someone called me on it.  Let Go and Let God because he alone can provide for our needs.  Really?  It goes back to faith as small as a mustard seed.  Be confident God will provide for our needs.  He will also be there to wrap his arms around us and give us hope when we feel weak.
  3. Security of Love. Have you ever doubted God’s love?  Be honest!  I know in my darkest days, I wondered how he could possible love me.  The truth is God’s love has lifted me up from the depths of addiction along with my sometimes shady past and he continues to love me on a daily basis.

Are these some of the barriers holding you back from dreaming BIG? I have found as long as I open my heart to God and his love, I am able to DARE to DREAM.  Pause for a moment and think about your dream.  Picture it.  Feel the feelings you would have if you reached it.  Haven’t dreamed in a long time?  It may take some practice but be still and listen to your heart.

What are your barriers to dreaming big? Share them with us…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Battling Your Own High Expectations

“The outward freedom that we shall attain will only be in exact proportion to the inward freedom to which we may have grown at a given moment. And if this is a correct view of freedom, our chief energy must be concentrated on achieving reform from within.” ~Gandhi

If I asked you when was the last time you were kind to yourself, what would you say?  Would you even remember?  I know that there are days when I don’t remember if I was ever kind to myself.  The inner gremlins are always struggling to make you think that “being kind to yourself” it selfish.

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I am here to tell you that that is so WRONG!

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Whether you grew up in a house with demanding parents or would strive every day to meet someone else’s expectations,  somewhere along the way, you lost what it was like to be kind to yourself.  You became a slave to expectations and now it is time to change that and be kind to YOU!

#1: Change How You Treat Yourself

I know that it is easier said then done.  I’ve been there and on some days am still there.  Can’t imagine being nice to yourself – why not begin by expressing kindness to someone or something you love such as a pet (or a someone special).  Easy right?  Don’t you deserve the same treatment? Try this mantra:

May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.

OR write one of your own.  Then practice saying it.  Start by repeating it for thirty seconds. Embrace the feelings that the words invoke.  The longer that you can embrace these feelings, the quicker you’ll reap the benefits.  Start and end your day with these to see what a difference in makes in your life.

#2: What You Say Limits You

Maybe on the surface, you are being nicer to yourself, but deep down that inner gremlin is judging you.   It’s true – we judge, and we label, sometimes without even realizing it. What we do to other people is the same thing we do to ourselves.

So every time you have a negative label for someone, come up with at least six different reasons that would stop that label.  It isn’t easy.  The truth is if you can be less judgmental toward other people, you can do the same for yourself.

#3: What You Say Can Belittle You

When was the last time you said “How could I be so stupid? ” or, “OMG what a screw-up! Could I not make a bigger mess of things? ” or, “Why do I do this to myself? I’m such an idiot!”  This is all about not meeting your own personal expectations and how you react.

Despite my best efforts, my inner gremlins love beating me up for every mistake, failure, or setback, real or imagined. Then a little angel voice screams, “Not being very kind to yourself, are you?”

SMACK!  The reality hits that nothing is a total failure. There is always something to be positive about.  Find it in whatever the situation is.  Replace those harsh words with positive thoughts.  By doing so,  you will change those demanding expectations.

These small changes are so powerful.  They help you stop being a victim of your own expectations and allow you to  treat yourself kinder.  You realize that judging other people is so closely aligned with the labels and limitations we put on ourselves.  Seeing the positives in what may appear as a failure will allow you to cut yourself some slack.

Change is hard!  Changing behaviors are challenging.  The truth is,  if I can do this, you certainly can!

It all begins with a practice taking less than a minute, six times a day showering yourself with loving-kindness.

It’s easy to start. It’s easy to do. Just repeat after me:

“May I be filled with loving-kindness. May I be held in loving-kindness. May I realize loving-kindness as my essence.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day