How to Turn Back Time

happy girl at sunset
Years ago I lived in Canada for a short time. What I remember most about that period of my life were the long and lazy Sundays. It seemed as if that glorious day went on forever and ever. There was time for worship, a drive out to the country to pick up fresh corn, an invigorating hike with my husband, or a day spent curled up by the fire reading a good book.
Fall fireplace

One of the factors that made Sunday a day of luxurious respite from the hectic day-to-day pace was the community shut-down. The only place open for business was a minute grocery store called “Mac’s Milk.” It served as an emergency outlet in case you needed milk for the kids’ cereal on Monday morning or bread for lunches.

Now if I were to revisit that Canadian town on a Sunday I could shop at the mall, pick up my dry cleaning, drive-through a Starbucks for a non-fat cappuccino
coffee cup and beans
or complete my weekly grocery shopping. These activities are identical to what I could accomplish where I live now, or just about anywhere. After reminiscing about my Canadian experience, I realized somewhere along my life’s journey I overlooked the magic of designating a day to things totally unrelated to my ever increasing “to do” list. I decided it was time to turn back the clock.

It does not take a supreme amount of effort for me to forego a mall visit or a trip to the supermarket for provisions on Sunday. What tends to invade my solitude is the overriding technology connection. Recouping the sanity of a relaxing day with no agenda other than to ponder and dream in blissful peace meant imposing a technology ban. For me it meant no tweeting, no checking in with my Facebook friends, no online shopping, no polishing my LinkedIn profile, or spending time in the blogosphere. I had a serious discussion with myself about shutting off my cell phone and refusing to boot-up my laptop no matter how much it called to me.

I am happy to announce unplugging was pure bliss! During the course of last Sunday I found time to take a brief power nap, do some motivational reading, bake a dozen pumpkin scones, treat my dog to a park visit and putter around the kitchen which I find highly therapeutic.

Want to reclaim your day of rest? Follow suit by powering down and calling it a day off with benefits. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Reasons to Smile

Little dog with owner spend a day at the park playing and having fun
After months of job searching, Diane was excited to be back in the workforce again. During the first day on her new job she emailed me two JPG files. Opening them I smiled with delight. One was a picture of a cafeteria and the second a bright blue piggy bank. Contrary to what you may be thinking, this is not one of my advice columns about finding a new job. No, it’s about…well, read on and see what you think.
Blue Piggy Bank

Never before has anyone sent me a picture of a cafeteria. This was a first. Although my client, Diane, was grateful to secure a job which meant drawing a long-awaited weekly paycheck, she wholeheartedly appreciated the small perks that made her first day a welcoming experience. The cafeteria was sparking clean and shiny, well stocked with fresh fruits and vegetables. This meant no brown bagging it or running out to expensive, crowded restaurants. My client’s new employer was a large financial institution. The bright blue piggy bank was symbolic of perks such as a free checking account along with other benefits included in the total compensation package.

Later that day I thought about Diane taking a few minutes out of her lunch hour to share her excitement with me. When was the last time I hit the pause button and stopped to show appreciation for simple blessings? About that time I gazed out my office window and watched a vibrant humming bird light on a lantana bush. Yep, got the timely message, and bowed my head in thanks.
free humming bird
Then I wrote this little motivational phase in my daily journal: “Just open your eyes and you will have many reasons to smile.”

It is so easy to get caught up in the rigors of everyday life always working toward that big pot at the end of the rainbow and overlooking reasons to smile and acknowledge tiny gifts. Mahatma Ghandi is credited with saying, “There is more to life than simply increasing speed.” Perhaps it’s time we all slowed down a bit to observe the beauty in the details.

So, the next time you are presented with your own version of a bright blue piggy bank, take action. Acknowledge it with gratitude and thanks. Think about sharing it with someone. Tell me about it in the comments section of this blog. I’d love to see what you uncovered when you stopped to find joy in a small enchanting gift.

Sometimes You Just Feel Like a Hotdog

 Grilled hot dog

As we meandered in and out of casinos on the Las Vegas strip, I suddenly realized I was famished. About that time we were in Caesar’s Palace, so I suggested we head over to the Mesa Grill, owned by celebrity chef Bobby Flay. My mouth began to water when I started thinking about some of his famous Southwestern cuisine. Unfortunately, my taste buds were in for a disappointment. We were too late for lunch, and too early for dinner. Knowing my stomach would not hold out much longer, I spotted a food court and went off in search of something healthy while my husband selected an all-American vendor who served up hot dogs, hamburgers and beer.

I snagged a table as my husband approached with a burger and ice cold beer. Taking his seat, John related a story about a man in front of him placing his order. Apparently, the server identified him as the chef of a local high-end restaurant. She was delighted to have him at her food stand, but puzzled and politely inquired why he was not eating at his establishment. The chef shrugged his shoulders and replied with a smile, “Sometimes you just feel like a hot dog.”

I love that story because it smacks of simplicity. Keeping it simple is definitely a good option. We have a tendency to over complicate our lives. For example, do you break out in a cold sweat when you cannot find your phone? We do derive benefits from our high tech toys, however, we should not be “on call” 24/7 unless we work in an industry that mandates it. It is perfectly acceptable to “unplug” and withdraw from all communication modes and enjoy some tranquility.

Simplifying life is not just about buying less and managing down time. Are you a slave to your social calendar? Do you say “yes” to every invitation? Do you feel obligated to spend time with people when you’d rather be home reading a great novel? Understand this…”no” is a good word. If jazz is not your preference and the gang is off to hear some band jamming Coltrane’s work, politely opt out. If your friend, Nina Negativity, wants to bend your ear for hours about all the drama in her life, find a way to distance yourself.

And finally, if throwing gourmet dinner parties for your friends causes stress and involves spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen, simplify the menu, or suggest a pot luck. If all else fails, just serve up some hot dogs with a dollop of mustard and lots of love.

I love reading your comments. Also, please feel free to share the post.