Posts tagged ‘happiness’

February 3, 2014

Life Is a Feast

Do you need a little happy in your life? If you do, you can borrow some of mine for a bit—but only until you find your own. I found this talisman of my joy (at least the beginnings of it) at Office Max—who knew?!? Check out my Happy Kitchen Board below:

Just makes me smile!

Just makes me smile!

My Happy Kitchen Board makes me grin whenever I see it. It’s a bright, beautiful representation of my spirit settled happily in my kitchen, the center of our home. It also serves as a visual shortcut to my own brand of happiness, reminding me to stop and savor when I run too ragged and forget. Now I want you to zero in on that rabbit near the flower pot: “Life is a feast.”

323

Love this little guy.

There’s so much power packed into that tiny phrase!  Life should be savored, shouldn’t it? With joyful abundance and possibilities unbounded, conjuring up gifts freely shared. Recently, I was blessed with an actual feast for both the body and the spirit–double win! In case you don’t know, I work at a magnificent retirement community, Juliette Fowler Communities, and one of the sweetest parts of my day is Morning Devotions.

Dear friends: Amp and Ruth, and their helper, Tracy

Now, how many people can say that they begin their workday in a place overflowing with love and respect, spending time with treasured friends, sharing coffee and treats, and exchanging stories of how God moves in their lives? Not many! The group of residents and staff members that gather for this morning time together are very dear to me. I swear I’m doused in love and happiness by the time we say goodbye.

Sweet ladies: Hazel, Wanda, and Carolyn

Last Thursday, however, was extra special. My sweet friend and Director of Life Enrichment (the most perfectly named department I know) Marti Miller planned a bountiful, healthy spread for our residents. A quick trip to Whole Foods later, and we were set. Here’s what we enjoyed:

211

  • Fresh mandarin oranges
  • Iced mocha (made with almond milk, coffee, and natural cocoa)
  • Activia yogurt
  • Fresh papaya and mango
  • Fresh green juice
  • Cranberry juice with natural ginger ale
  • Hail Merry macaroons
Two of my very favorite people: Marti Miller and Deborah Armstrong

Two of my very favorite people: Marti Miller and Deborah Armstrong

The food was excellent, and the company even better. That delicious morning meal with my friends was a perfect reminder for all of us to keep enjoying this glorious feast of life. Have a super week!

Bon appétit, and God bless!

Brooke

Advertisements
December 2, 2013

Enjoy the Holiday Rush

kiss me now

Now, this is my kind of holiday spirit 😉

Hi, Everyone! All stressed out and nowhere to run? I hear ya! This time of year invites not only merriment and reflection but lots of obligations absent the other 11 months of the year. Decorating the house, shopping without breaking the bank, crafting and baking (if you’re so inclined), vowing that THIS year you won’t wait until the last minute to do everything . . . all the while, the calendar is shrinking relentlessly down to zero hour. Then there’s the anxiety over sending Christmas cards—you could choose not to send them this year, but then you risk the icky feeling of being quietly dropped from your friends’ card lists. So, your list of to-do’s is long but necessary. Here are a few tips to help you cope:

is this you

Don’t let this be you . . .

1. Plan Ahead: This one’s a big challenge for me, but it saves a lot of headaches and heart palpitations down the road. Decorate your house early in the season so you can 1) enjoy being surrounded by holiday cheer and 2) focus on other tasks as the season ramps up. If you’re shopping for loved ones’ lists, do like the stores do and barely let the gratitude of Thanksgiving sink in before jumping into The Holidays. Take advantage of sales early in the month, and if you want to avoid having to fight your way through crowded lines even for a latte, do some gift getting during the weekdays. Not possible for everyone, I know, but have you seen those women who seem to have everything done, presents wrapped (nicely), and treats baked for their children’s friends’ families before the first full weekend in December? That’s how they do it! Oh, and they may have made a little deal with the Dark One—I’m just speculating.

2. Savor the Season: This is my favorite part about the holiday season—enjoying it, even as I mow through my lengthy list. When we pull all the decorations and tree down from the attic, I love to put on our favorite Christmas CDs (Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Harry Connick, Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas—I love you!). Preferably I also have a delicious iced Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks as my companion. You know that song from Mary Poppins—“A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down”? I’m a big believer in that phrase when I’m doing anything onerous or involved (for example, cleaning out my closet . . . again). Just give yourself a little sparkle to help enjoy the task at hand—it’s always worked wonders for me. Also, despite the lack of checkmarks on your to-do list, take time out to drive around and look at the lights on your neighbors’ houses, or sit down and watch your favorite holiday movies as a family. Do the things that bring cheer and joy to you and your loved ones—make those cute, little bread loafs that you always dream of doing over the holidays. Go root through your winter clothes and find your favorite comfy sweater to nestle up in, even if you have to crank up the AC, like we have to do in Texas J

3. Be Good to Yourself:  This one obviously involves bits of the previous paragraph, but sometimes we are the ones that get forgotten in the mad rush of December. Taking care of yourself is more than just pampering. You are the lynchpin to your family’s progress through their lives and this season. If you run yourself ragged, then everyone’s in trouble! Be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. Learn to say “No” politely to some requests for your time and assistance—trust me, this will change your life. Just because someone wants you to something doesn’t mean you are beholden to. And it doesn’t mean you are a bad person or don’t like the requestor. It just means that you have a limited amount of time, and you need to spend it in the way that fills you up and keeps you marginally socially acceptable (and not a hermit). Say “Yes” when you can cheerfully help out, and be gracious but direct when replying “No.” You will feel so much better when you can do this. Also, despite occasional obstacles, keep up with your healthy eating and exercise. Exercise especially is a powerful stress buster that improves your mood, relaxes your crazy mind, brings more restful sleep, and keeps your body healthy and happy. It will serve you very well this season, as will mindful eating. If you keep yourself fueled throughout each day with high-quality food (lean protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit, and LOTS of water), you will not only feel amazing but also be able to cope more easily with holiday party temptations. If you’ve been on track with your nutrition, then you (and not the double chocolate cheesecake at your work party) will be in control. Go on, have a little piece! Mama needs some chocolately cheer too!

Enjoy the season, ok? It’s going to go fast!

XOXO, Brooke

chocolate cheesecake

September 9, 2013

Find Your Happy Place

both joy

Hello, Friends! It’s Brooke, here. Where’s your happy place? You do have one, don’t you? If not, you are missing out. As far as these lovely places go, they can be locations you can actually visit, or they can be exotic locales conjured up in your mind’s eye. While both types have their uses, today we are concerning ourselves with the places that you can access easily at almost any moment.  Why? Because sometimes life just calls for a quick and powerful reset, and your brain is just too overrun to get away on its own. In these instances, it’s best to simply transport yourself to the place where you can relax and let your mind catch up later.

Follow the Clues

clue

But how can you find these places of solace and escape? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time I was really happy? Where was I?
  • What activities make me lose track of time?
  • If I could go anywhere in my entire city, where would I go and what would I do?
  • What makes my heart happy?
  • When I’ve reached the end of my tether, what would make me feel cared for?

Scour your memories for all the times and places when you were alone and content. Part of caring for your spirit is finding ways to be joyful and complete without needing others to fill a void for you. Also, your loved ones’ version of happy may be entirely different from yours. Your job is to find your glow first and share with those in your life after.

glow

You’re on the Right Track!

Remember, everyone has a different set of hallmarks they use to identify their happy places. Maybe a little boutique smells just like your favorite friend’s house growing up; maybe a painting studio lets you be wildly creative and unbound, unlike your day job. In case you’re stuck, take a peek at my top 3 places currently:

1. Barnes & Noble: smells like coffee, cinnamon scones, and new books—also, I love hanging out with my dad there, and I adore getting lost (and not being missed) exploring whatever my heart desires . . . today

2. Cosmic Café: vegetarian/vegan Indian restaurant: the food is delicious, the vibe is very spiritual and peaceful, and no beloved animals were sacrificed in the making of this nourishment

3. Exall Lake: lovely and peaceful neighborhood lake, surrounded by trees, beautiful homes, and away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas traffic; inspires me and allows me to think and ponder

You Will Know It When You Feel It

heart flutter

Here are some markers that will help you recognize you have found some happy places:

  • It makes your heart flutter happily.
  • Being there is supremely relaxing.
  • Your true self can roam unfettered by expectations of normal life.
  • Your brain can finally shut off the cacophony of b.s. it spouts incessantly as you are lost in the moment.
  • You are thinking about or focusing on only 1 thing—and it feels great!
  • You feel calm because you are in the present moment, not hampered by the past or fretting about the future.

Come to think of it, these markers are some of the very same ones you can use to identify your true calling and find your bliss. No wonder they make you feel happy!

Go to Your Happy Places as Often as Possible

beach heart

Self-explanatory, really! Keep these places tucked away in your subconscious and pull them out regularly, especially when you are feeling stressed, fried, heartbroken, or just plain out of joie de vive. As long as they make your soul sing, you’ve found your little corner of bliss!

Happy hunting, Brooke

November 30, 2012

How I Accidentally Nurtured Myself . . . And You Can Too!

 

Ok, so I’m going to let you in on a dirty, little secret. I’ve been a massage therapist for 4 years, and I can count on maybe one hand (possibly part of another) the number of massages I’ve received over the years. I know it sounds bad. It IS bad! Not only is it a crime how knotted my rhomboids and traps are, but spending my days encouraging all I meet to enjoy the benefits of massage and not going myself is just plain fraud. In the past, if one of my clients would ask me how often I got massages, this standard refrain would ring out inside my head, “Me get a massage? You must be joking. I don’t have time to relax! Now, you there on the table, just close your eyes and breathe deeply. Relax . . .” Can you feel the hypocrisy dripping right off? Wow.

Fast forward to a particularly stressful and horrendous week, when I felt like the juggling act that is my life was not going well. I reached my breaking point when I just had to surrender and call in reinforcements. “Help me, please!” I cried to my favorite therapist. My massage was heavenly and profoundly healing, as I knew it would be. And I made that secret promise to myself (again) that I would come back on a regular basis, and then floated out the door. I swear that the grass and gardens I passed going to my car glowed vibrantly greener, and my view seemed more panoramic than before. Remember Brad Pitt’s character in Interview With a Vampire, when he wakes up in the garden after becoming a vampire and stares up at the angel statue, every sense heightened, as if he can feel everything “living” in Technicolor around him? That’s how I felt as I melted homeward.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

A calm hush had fallen over my weary spirit, and it was so long overdue that my heart just wanted to cry. I needed to nurture myself, as I would anyone I love. So, once home, I put on a comfy shirt and my favorite, butter-soft jeans, and then finally took the time to do a scrub and ultra-moisturizing mask while I (gasp!) sat still. Then I gathered the ingredients for a wonderful green smoothie. I’d never had one before, but it just felt right. Like I needed to cleanse and heal my insides as the massage had done for my outsides. My favorite recipe right now is modified from the Glowing Green Smoothie from Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution:

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped (I use ½ package of Power Greens—kale, arugula, chard, and spinach)
  • ½ head of large bunch or ¾ of small bunch organic spinach (I use a large handful of bagged organic spinach)
  • 3-4 stalks organic celery, chopped
  • 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic pear, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic banana
  • Juice of ½ organic lemon (I don’t use this because I like my drink sweeter)

In a blender, add the water and chopped greens, and mix until smooth. Add the celery, apple, and pear, increasing the speed as you go. Add the banana last, and if you like your smoothie thicker (and colder), add some ice cubes. This recipe makes about three or four 10 oz. servings, and you can store any unused smoothie in the blender in your fridge and re-blend when ready. Super easy!

green smoothie banana

I took my smoothie and my books and curled up on the couch, contemplating how to take better care of myself. I even took a lot of very deep breaths. It was a lovely afternoon that brings me peace even now as I remember it. Since that afternoon, I’ve been trying to do better, be kinder to myself. I’m a work in progress, as we all are. But I wish you lots of joyful pampering of yourself and your family during this busy holiday season. You are wonderful and you deserve all the happiness and help you give to others.

XO, Brooke