End of the Birthday Celebrations

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It’s officially the end of the birthday celebrations. My 62nd birthday was January 9, marking the culmination of 62 days of celebrating by randomly drawing activities from a jar. It’s been fun! It’s been challenging. I’ve learned so much.

Read the post that started the fun romp toward my birthday HERE. And then check out the last activities.

End of the Birthday Celebrations title meme

Final Week of Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper, back in early November. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I drew out an activity and did what was written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations

As the slips of paper dwindled, these are the last activities that I drew.

Shop for an Outfit at a Thrift Store with a $20 Budget

The idea behind this activity was not just thriftiness. Buying gently used clothes instead of new reduces my impact on the world’s resources. Have you ever thought about the energy and resources consumed by the clothing industry? Read this great article about the subject.

I found this activity an outlet for my creativity too. I chose to shop at my local Goodwill Store with a $20 bill tucked into my pocket. Could I do it?

Yes!

I purchased a cute jacket, a simple black top and skinny gray pants….for a total of $16. Thanks to the jacket’s half price tag, I stayed under budget. I love the way things work out!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Thrift
End of the Birthday Celebrations – thrift store outfit

24 Hour Liquid Fast

I changed this activity from a water fast to a liquid fast. Nutritionally, the difference felt important. I think it made the activity easier and I benefited more from it.

My mornings are always liquids. I don’t eat solid food until noon. On this day, however, lunch was a huge glass of apple celery juice. By mid afternoon my empty stomach rumbled a bit. But by evening, my hunger completely disappeared and I felt energized. It’s good to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Throughout the day, I consumed freshly prepared juices, fruit smoothies, lots of herbal teas and a brothy soup.

I ended up completing a 36 hour liquid fast and felt wonderful as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Liquid Fast
Refreshing apple celery juice for lunch.

Write Chapter One in House H(a)unting Book

This activity felt SO GOOD to complete. I’ve had a book idea for many years. After quickly writing the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start this project. The reason, I decided, is because I wasn’t ready.

The years of crafting blog posts helped me hammer out my own particular writing style. And I’ve learned much this past year about trimming away the excess and keeping my writing tight and more focused. Now I’m ready.

The first chapter in this non fiction book came together extremely well. I’m excited to continue the work, chapter by chapter.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Chapter One
Chapter One…

Visit a New Place, Within 100 Miles of Joplin AND Hike a New Trail

It made sense to combine these two activities. I’m thankful for Google! How simple to type in “fun activities within 20 miles of Joplin” and scroll through the list. I considered options farther away from my hometown, however it gets dark early this time of year and this was a solo adventure.

I ended up near Galena, Kansas at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Located in Schermerhorn Park south of the town, the nature center provided the perfect opportunity for visiting a new to me place. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes looking at animals, reading through info about southeast Kansas and opening drawers containing hands-on activities. I stood for a time watching bees in an indoor hive. I’ve never seen a hive up close. The glass walls allowed viewing without disturbing the bees. A short tunnel to the outdoors enabled the insects to easily exit the building and return to the hive.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Southeast Kansas Nature Center’

Hiking

Conveniently, down the hill from the nature center a couple of trails that I’ve not hiked before snaked through the woods. Alone in the this part of the park, I first walked along the Roos Trail.

I then returned to the parking lot and headed west toward the Schemerhorn Cave. Only vaguely aware of the cave’s location, I veered right onto the trail branching off of the main track, hoping my sense of direction guided me well.

Perhaps because I was alone, I felt mildly uneasy. Or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Dark, in which paranormal activity occurs in a cave. As I approached the cave though the uneasiness grew. I felt creeped out. By that I mean I picked up strange vibrational energy. I paused on the trail and considered turning around. However, these activities are meant to challenge me and move me beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t sense danger. I sensed something otherworldly.

When I found the cave, I didn’t linger there or enter it. Distinct, negative energy haunts that area. Returning to the car I turned around twice, looking back along the trail, sure that something followed me.

In the car, with the doors locked, I looked up info about the cave. There are accounts of paranormal activity there. People have reported hearing ghostly voices and phantom gunshots in the area. The outlaw Jesse James supposedly hid out in that cave. My intuition was spot on.

Hike at Schermerhorn Park
I much preferred this merry little stream over the foreboding cave.

Do a Vlog in Place of a Blog

This is the last activity I drew from my jar, on my birthday. How perfect. This video came together more smoothly than my last one! Check it out.

Truly the End of the Birthday Celebrations

That’s a wrap! During the longest running game that I’ve yet created, I completed 62 activities. I swapped out several. Interestingly, the activities that I tried to pre-plan for specific dates…a play, a book signing and a movie…didn’t work out. I learned it’s better NOT to try to schedule random activities!

Allowing the activities to choose me works much better.

Here’s what else I discovered. I can do challenging things. Many of the activities pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I contacted brands and companies to work with, most of which have not yet responded. That’s okay. I learned how to better craft a pitch. And other opportunities came to me, including a paid sponsorship with another brand that sought me out. This game created around me an energetic space of openness and receptivity. I’m a magnet…for all kinds of deeper wonderment.

I’m still working on the submission packet for the writing fellowship. And I have a couple of activities to put finishing touches on. Overall, what an amazing time of trying new things, having fun and growing. This might be my best birthday ever. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than expressing creativity and upping my life game. The experience launched 2020 in a powerful, magnificent way. I am excited to see what happens next!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Empty Jar
End of the Birthday Celebrations – empty jar

Here are the other weeks of activities:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Want to create your own fun game? It begins with ideas, strips of paper…and an empty jar.

 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

Home Stretch

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’ve entered the home stretch, doing outrageous activities, as my 62nd birthday is this week. What fun these celebrations sparked. And, not surprisingly, opportunities for growth and going beyond my comfort zone appeared as well. That was the primary intention, playing this game. I’ll be a bit sad to see it end, however what a wonderful way to begin a new year.

Check out last week’s activities as the count down continues.

Home Stretch title meme

Week Eight Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Home Stretch

With my birthday so close, the jar is almost empty. I’m posting last week’s activities today and I’ll do a follow up post Friday to wrap up this two month long event. Here are the last seven activities…with an explanation. I had clients to take care of and non-celebratory but important tasks to do such as creating a vision board for the year. This past week I didn’t complete every activity although I at least began each one. I’ll follow through and finish them in the upcoming weeks.

Create Art Piece for This Year’s Symbol the Key

I started this practice last year, creating a work of art that features my symbol for the year. The idea of creating such art yearly appeals to me. Thus I began my second sketch in this series. The key is my symbol for 2020, representing how curiosity “unlocks” doors of adventure and opportunity.

Because I felt drawn to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I drew him holding a key rather than a pocket watch. The rough sketch is pictured here. I’ll tidy it up and then use colored pencils to complete the art piece. And, looking at it here, I think I’ll make that key larger. I possess a BIG sense of curiosity.

Home Stretch Sketch
Home Stretch sketch – my symbol for the year

Visit a Local Store I’ve Not Visited Before

I frequently drive by Plato’s Closet, located on S. Rangeline and yet I’ve never visited this consignment store. Plato’s Closet buys and resells gently worn name brand clothing. Although they primarily cater to teens and twenty-somethings, they carry a wide variety of brands and styles, in a full range of sizes. Prices are generally 70% off what you’d find at the mall.

When I stopped by, the store was full of shoppers looking for bargains. I didn’t have much time, however I enjoyed browsing through well organized racks of tops, pants and dresses. I saw several women carry in bags of clothing. While they shopped, employees sorted through the clothes, made selections and presented offers. I believe you can receive cash or a store credit.

I’ll certainly return to Plato’s Closet when I have more time to look.

Plato's Closet
Plato’s Closet, located at 1313 S Rangeline in Joplin.

Change Themes on the Blogs

I wrote these as separate activities and drew them the same week, which actually worked out well. It’s time to change the themes on my blogs, prompting me to look through possibilities for Cindy Goes Beyond and Journey With Healthy Me. I felt drawn to blog themes created by Solo Pine, on the site Theme Forest.

My criteria for new themes includes compatibility with WordPress, responsiveness, mobile friendliness and a clean, uncluttered layout. I selected the theme Rosemary for Beyond and the theme Alder for Journey. Watch for the blogs to freshen up their appearances in the next week or so. Because technology is one way I am forced to grow, I will spend time over the weekend uploading these new themes and making necessary changes.

Home Stretch Rosemary
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Beyond with the Rosemary theme
Home Stretch Alder
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Journey with the Alder theme

Try a New Vegetable

I’ve noticed these small green gourds in the produce section at the grocery store. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? When I drew this activity I checked out these new to me foods to discover what they were exactly.

It turns out they are chayote, a type of squash that is common in Mexico. And while this produce is technically a fruit, it is prepared and eaten like a vegetable. The meat of the chayote is used much like zucchini. It can be added raw to salads or stir fried, boiled, mashed or baked.

I purchased a couple of chayotes and found a recipe online to adapt. Although I haven’t prepared my new “vegetable” yet, I will tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Chayote

Have an Afternoon of Silence

I welcomed this quiet activity. However, I didn’t get to experience it on the day I drew the slip of paper from the jar. Instead I  partnered this one with the next day’s activity, Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series. It was an interesting combination…silence for a time then take after take recording a video.

I am at heart a solitary person. When I’m by myself, I tend to speak very little although I may burst into song occasionally. Typically music plays in the background when I’m home alone.

For this activity, I chose complete silence, with no speaking, music, or television. The absence of noise allowed my muscles to relax and my breathing to deepen. I found myself smiling several times, as I worked in my studio. I’d like to practice this activity more.

Home Stretch Silence
Home Stretch – silence

Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series

I followed my time of quiet with a burst of speaking. I ended up doing at least a dozen takes before I got a decent video for this activity…and it was only a five minute recording!

Here’s what I learned. To properly do a series of videos, I’ll need a dedicated space to create in and some essential equipment. I propped my phone up in my creative studio, which seems appropriate enough. However I dealt with too much sunlight filtering in through the closed blinds, my iPhone falling over while I recorded and a cat that just had to check out what was going on. And then there were the flubs as I spoke!

It’s all valuable experience that I’m grateful for. I’m encouraged to keep trying and keep going. I know there is another video related activity still in the jar. I’ll see how that one goes compared to this initial attempt.

Home Stretch Video
Take ten. And it’s a photo of the video…not a clickable video fortunately. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Thursday is my birthday. It’s already been a unique celebration, or series of celebrations rather, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’m grateful that my granddaughter suggested this idea to me. She’s very aware of what I’ve been doing and that precious girl has been my biggest cheerleader the last eight weeks.

I’ll finish this series on Friday, although I expect that the impact from this imaginative game will continue for some time. I’ve given myself a remarkable gift.

Week Eight Activities

Check out the other activities during weeks one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

 

Amazon finds:

 


 

 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

 

2019 Year in Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Wow, what an extraordinary year! I knew going into 2019 that the next twelve months were going to grow me and that I’d exit the year a different person. That’s true for everyone, I think, whether they are aware of it or not. Every day, week, month and year brings opportunities to grow. I definitely experienced profound shifts.

Check out 2019 Year in Review for the highlights.

2019 Year in Review title meme

Focus for 2019

I primarily focused on two things last year, growing the blogs and a planned trip to Scotland. Many joys and some challenges filled in the spaces between those two big goals, creating a year of shifts and letting go.

My word for 2019, Enchantment, inspired me to use my thoughts, words and actions to create the reality that I desire. My symbol, the queen chess piece, came to me through a Divine question:

“Do you want to be the Queen of your own kingdom, or a pawn in someone else’s?”

During 2019, as the Queen of Enchantment, I focused on building my kingdom through writing, sharing, speaking and engaging.

The 2019 Year in Review is very simple as it basically covers two areas.

2019 Year in Review Queen Chess Piece
2019 Year in Review – the Queen of Enchantment

2019 Year in Review Blogs

The Blogs

This year brought huge growth in me as a blogger and in the blogs as well. I began the year by taking an online blogging class. Blogging Blastoff, created and taught by Heather and Pete Reese, is a 30 day course with daily, online classes. I’ve been blogging for more than six years, however, I’ve never taken a class. How helpful this course is. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in creating a blog or monetizing an existing one.

Click this LINK to check out their classes. There’s an excellent free five day getting started course as well.

That class changed the course of my blogs. As a result, I now earn money through affiliate connections, like with Amazon, and through sponsorships with companies and brands. This past year I worked with 16 brands…and counting. I was also featured in two national magazines, Woman’s World and For Women First, guested on my first two podcasts, did a Facebook live for a group and did interviews.

These activities not only helped my blogs to grow, they expanded my abilities as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spend hours and hours a day, working on my writing and my blogs. I love the journey though. And I’ve connected with other bloggers, which was a key component missing from my blogging journey before. There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I’m privileged to call some of them friends. We help each other out and encourage one another, sharing our accomplishments and our challenges.

 

2019 Year in Review Podcasts
2019 Year in Review – Podcasts
2019 Year in Review Magazines
2019 Year in Review – Magazines. My mom and I were in the Woman’s World piece together, which was so much fun.

The Scotland Trip

If you know anything about me, you know this…I love Scotland. My Scottish DNA seems to work as a powerful magnet, drawing me ever toward my ancestral home. The highlight of 2019 was a trip to Scotland, accompanied by my sister Debbie. We made Edinburgh our homebase while we explored that gorgeous, ancient city and met up, for the first time, with Clan Maitland members from around the world.

For me, Edinburgh is home, even though my family originates from Lauder, in the Borders. I’ve never experienced the connection anywhere else, that I feel in Edinburgh. This was my third trip to Scotland and I never tire of wandering the streets and closes of Edinburgh. The energy is amazing there, the sights and sounds exhilarating and the people so friendly. Debbie and I spent many happy hours exploring the city. A couple of vegan restaurants, Seeds for the Soul and Beetroot Sauvage, comped meals for us and a vegan bakery gave us extra treats to take back to our apartment.

I’m grateful that my sister traveled with me. It was a trip to remember. My next Scottish intention is visiting Edinburgh at Christmas time.

2019 Year in Review
2019 Year in Review – Seeds for the Soul Vegan Cafe
2019 Year in Review Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland…my favorite city in the world. That’s Edinburgh Castle in the background.
2019 Year in Review Scottish Lasses
2019 Year in Review – Scottish Lasses. We were at our Clan Maitland Formal Dinner.

Clan Maitland

The second part of visiting Scotland involved meeting Scottish kin. Debbie and I are members of Clan Maitland, which includes those with Maitland and Lauderdale surnames. Early ancestors came from Normandy and settled eventually near Lauder, Scotland in the Borders. The family lineage includes a duke and a long line of earls. Our clan chief is Ian Maitland, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale. And there is a castle in Lauder, Thirlestane, that is occupied by another branch of the family.

What an amazing adventure, to meet Ian, his son John, and family members from New Zealand, the US, Scotland, England and France. As a family we explored places in the Borders connected historically to the Maitlands. Our little group of about 30 people bonded during our days together and truly became family, or kin as Ian liked to call us. We toured Thirlestane Castle and met our in-residence family members there, Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew. They were such gracious hosts. Edward and Ian entertained us with stories about the castle as we toured the rooms and shared afternoon tea together.

Debbie and I left Scotland, reluctantly, but with full hearts and connections with new cousins. Clan means family, Ian reminded us daily. I love my expanded family and I look forward to seeing them again.

2019 Year in Review Clan Maitland
2019 Year in Review – Clan Maitland in front of Thirlestane Castle

A New Adventure Begins

Exiting 2019, I leave with a kingdom that I’ve build with my own efforts, words and actions.  I’ll be leaving real estate in March of this year, parking my license with Keller Williams.

It is time for me to expand my tiny kingdom. I have a new word and a new symbol for 2020, and big dreams and intentions. I am the Queen of Enchantment still though, the queen of my own kingdom. Creating my reality is my calling, along with helping others to live beyond comfort zones, limiting beliefs, poor health and fears.

Thank you for journeying with me. It means so much to me. I’m excited to see where I go this year, who I meet and what doors open! Join me on this next adventure during the Year of Curiosity.

Curiosity Quoye

Check out these books and products from 2019:

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am an affiliate with It’s a Lovely Life and Blogging Blastoff. All opinions are my own.

 

Adapting As I Go

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

With Christmas properly celebrated and captured in memory, it’s onward with the 62 outrageous things to do for my 62nd birthday. As the new year approaches, bringing my birthday on January 9th, the number of folded papers in my jar dwindles. With the holiday in the middle of last week, it was a challenge to complete the daily birthday activities. And, as you are about to discover, not all went as I thought it would, requiring shifts. That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Adapting as I go is one of the ways that I learn and grow and go beyond.

Here are the week seven celebrations.

Adapting As I Go title meme

 Week Seven Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have both deepened greatly as a result.

Adapting As I Go

Full confession….there were days I accomplished my activities…and days when I simply did not have enough time. So a couple of days, I did two activities at once. However, that did not in any way lessen the magic of playing this game. I marvel, truly, at the way that life unfolds, playfully, amazingly, when I open up and allow. One of the most important lessons that I’m learning during this game is to get out of my own way. Don’t overthink. Stay open and aware. Don’t try to control anything. Have fun.

Reach Out to a Brand for a Sponsorship

My original intention here was to reach out to a brand that I use and love. I considered the companies represented by the products in my home. And yet…as I turn over ideas in my mind, none of them stuck. That’s a sure sign to me that I haven’t hit on the right idea yet.

I finally realized I needed to think bigger, reach farther. Reach was actually my word for the year many years ago. And suddenly that word stood out on my slip of paper. Reach out.

I reached out to Amtrak, the cross country train service, with a sponsored post idea. This company is adapting the way that they market their services. They recognize the benefits of working with those who post frequently on social media. Even though there isn’t a stop in Joplin for Amtrak, I’d happily travel to where there is one and embark from there. How fun and educational a trip on rails would be. I’ll let you know how this activity turns out!

Adapting As I Go Amtrak
Adapting As I Go…with Amtrak

Order Business Cards for the Blogs

This activity seems easy enough. I even had an online graphic design company in mind to order from. However, looking through an endless assortment of biz cards and designs, nothing grabbed my interest.

And then I began to doubt. Does anyone still use actual business cards in this digital age? What would I use business cards for? Did I need business cards?

I played with creating my own designs and saved them while I do a bit of research to see if business cards are necessary or desirable. What’s your opinion? Do you still use actual cards?

Adapting As I Go Business Cards

Give Something Away Today

This activity beautifully coincided with Christmas Day. I’d already come up with a gift that I gave to several family members called a Giving Jar. What a perfect item to give away on this day and how amazingly synchronous.

My giving jars contain a Christmas Stove Top Potpourri with mandarin oranges, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, sprigs of pine and spices. As the ingredients simmer in a pot of water, the whole house smells like Christmas. Check out this post, which details how to make the potpourri.

I went a step further, turning the gift jars into giving jars. The attached card reads: This is a giving jar. After you’ve enjoyed the contents, fill the jar with something else and pass it on to someone else.

Receive and Give

The best part of this story is that once I decided on creating giving jars, events magically transpired to birth that idea into reality. I wanted to use mason jars and cover the lids with fabric. I’d recently uncovered a box in the attic that appeared to contain Ball mason jars. I retrieved the box, which came from the home of Greg’s parents after his father passed.

When I opened the box a few days before Christmas, for the first time since bringing it home, I discovered vintage mason jars as I expected. However on closer inspection I also found red, green and white material folded up. The square patterns were perfect for cutting apart to use as lid covers. I’d only need pinking shears. Do you know what else was tucked into the box? Yes, pinking shears. I can only guess that Greg’s mother created gift jars years ago and this old cardboard box contained the leftover materials.

When things like this happen, I feel so aligned with the flow of life, so connected to the Divine, so delighted in all that is. I expressed joyful gratitude for the discovery…and created the giving jars.

Adapting As I Go Giving Jars

Work in a Different Spot

The convenience of a smart phone and a laptop means I can work from any room in my house. This activity challenged me to find a different place to work.

After the tornado ripped through Joplin in 2011, the city built a new public library on the corner of 20th and Connecticut. I love this beautiful space with its huge windows and comfortable, modern furniture. This became my designated “different spot” to work in.

I found a rocking chair and a small table near huge windows on the east side of the main room in the library. By the time I arrived, darkness curtained the window. However, I enjoyed filling out the month of January in my new planner and writing in my idea notebook. I’ll return to this spot soon when it’s daytime and I can enjoy the views out the windows.

Adapting As I Go in the Library
Adapting As I Go in the Library. I didn’t have a stalker. Greg took this photo as I worked.

Read a Book in a Different Genre

The library served a dual purpose, as I accomplished two activities at once there. Not only did I work, I also checked out a book in a different genre. I read widely, so when I considered possibilities, the first out of the ordinary genre that came to mind was political thriller.

Scrolling through a list of political thrillers on my phone, a title jumped out at me, The President is Missing. The authors intrigued me as well. President Bill Clinton collaborated on this story with James Patterson. I love when people step beyond who they are perceived to be and offer something new. I’m excited to complete the book. And in the same vein, I’m looking forward to visiting Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Arkansas and viewing paintings by another president who has discovered new creative abilities, George W. Bush.

Bill Clinton Book

Say Yes Ten Times During the Day

This activity proved interesting. I’ve always practiced saying yes more often than no, even as a parent and grandparent. However, when you have no idea what opportunities…or obligations…are coming in a day, saying yes can appear risky.

I love how this activity turned out. Briefly, the ten yeses broke down like this. Three yeses secured new clients, one brought an offer to learn more about cooking Indian food, three yeses connected me to blogging adventures, one provided an app to try out for a brand and two involved learning more about travel writing.

By the end of the day, I felt joyful, full of light and open to possibilities. That’s the power of yes.

The Power of Yes

Try a New Fruit

I’m sure there are fruits I have not yet tried. Living in the midwest limits what’s available though. I hoped to experience something exotic, like jackfruit. I knew I wouldn’t find a fresh jackfruit in the produce section of my market but I hoped to find a can of it on the shelves. No.

Back to the produce section I went, where it seems a plant based diet has exposed me to everything there. After all, I eat a lot of fruit. Walking around, thinking and adapting as I go, I spy a  bin of whole pineapples.

Of course, I’ve eaten pineapple. I love the fruit. But….I’ve never eaten a fresh pineapple that I prepared myself. That’s how I adapted for this activity. I cut up a fresh pineapple, using the instructions on the tag attached to the fruit.

Now I’m wondering why whole pineapples intimidated me all these years. It wasn’t difficult to cut up and I’ll enjoy my fresh pineapple this week combined with other fruits in a salad.

Adapting As I Go
Adapting As I Go…fresh pineapple becomes a new fruit.

Ten More Days

My birthday is ten days away. Ten more days until the game ends. This has been a fun and remarkable experience. I’m excited to share some of the lessons learned and ahas realized on January 9th. Thank you for playing along!

Check out the other weeks of activities here: week one, two, three, four, five and six.

Week Seven Birthday Activities
Adapting as I go through week seven activities.

Check out these finds from Amazon and create your own giving jars:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Fa La La La La

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

When I began this game of randomly selecting 62 outrageous activities during the lead up to my birthday in January, I knew Christmas occurred during that time. After all, my birthday is just 15 days after Christmas. However, what I didn’t factor in was how busy the holiday season is. This is my excuse, anyway, for posting this update today, rather than last Friday! The days are full as Christmas nears. I required a couple of extra days to catch up on the activities I drew.

Here they are, week six of birthday celebrations.

Fa La La La La title meme

Week Six Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Fa La La La La

Last week’s celebrations felt challenging, simply because Christmas brings with it more activities, gatherings and busyness. Adding one more thing to do each day was indeed a stretch. And yet, in the midst of holiday preparations and activities with grandchildren and other responsibilities, the outrageous birthday celebrations continued to inspire me.

I felt drawn to title this post Fa La La La La because of the nearness of Christmas. After creating the pinnable title graphic, curiosity compelled me to look up the phrase. The words are meaningless, really. However, the use of fa la la la la in the song Deck the Halls is a common addition in songs from the middle ages. There was a tendency in Madrigal Choruses to fill songs with a vocal break between verses.

Scottish musician Thomas Oliphant wrote the lyrics in 1862 and set them to a much older Welsh tune dating back to the 16th century. The oft repeated fa la la la la originates from a medieval ballad.

I smiled over this info that I discovered. Deck the Halls is written by a Scotsman. And I like the reference to breaks between verses. That’s a good description of my little celebrations. They are breaks between all the other activities going on right now. Isn’t life magical, the way it works, and beautiful?

Quickly, here are the celebrations.

Reach Out to a Resort for a Comped Stay

I admit these types of activities do push me beyond my comfort zone. It is difficult for me to ask for anything! For this activity, I moved beyond and reached out to a resort in Eureka Springs Arkansas, asking for a complimentary stay in exchange for a feature in a blog post and shares across social media.

I’ve stayed multiple times with this resort in northwest Arkansas that offers unique settings. Options include cottages, a lodge, tree houses, castles, Harry Potter themed lodging and Hobbit caves. I’ve never stayed in one of their Hobbit caves. With my love for JRR Tolkien, this seemed like a great fit, although I’d enjoy any of their options.

As with other companies and brands I’ve reached out to, it’s the act of getting beyond my comfort zone that is most important to me, not whether I receive what I ask for! I consider that bonus when it happens.

Fa La La La La Hobbit Caves
Check out all the options this resort in Eureka Springs AR offers.

Start a Conversation with a Stranger

This activity proved easily accomplished. I drew this one out of the jar on a Saturday, with family visiting from out of town. Nine of us ended up at Golden Corral for the buffet, which has good veggie options. Lots of other people made the same dining choice!

Standing side by side with strangers as we helped ourselves to food from the massive buffet, conversations flowed naturally. My favorite start up conversation was with a young girl of about eight, who engaged me and my great nephew Weston. She chatted animatedly about the dessert buffet, which is a favorite among children for sure.

Golden Corral Buffet
Fa La La La La – conversations with strangers at Golden Corral

Do An Interview

Interestingly, I began this activity before actually drawing it out. A blogger friend of mine offered me the opportunity to do a live video in her Facebook group. In return, I asked if I could do an interview with her. She graciously agreed. I love the blogging community. We all seek to help each other out.

I’ve sent my friend the interview questions that I came up with. I’ll update this section when I post the results.

Conducting an Interview

Try a New Product

I love when synchronicities occur. They signal that I am on the right path, headed in the right direction. A new to me product arrived by mail, just ahead of me drawing this activity out. This company provides sleeves, braces, socks and apparel that reduce inflammation, pain and swelling. I appreciate this brand reaching out to me to try out one of their products.

Watch for a review of the incrediwear knee sleeve next week!

incrediwear sleeve
Fa La La La La – try a new product

Outline Video One in “Believe in Yourself” Series

I’m excited about this 30 day video series that I’m developing. It will launch next year. And that’s about all that I can share at the moment. In a few minutes the outline for the first video, which is introductory in nature, came together.

You know what is really cool? There is a related activity still in the jar. On that slip of paper is written, Record video one in Believe in Yourself series. I wondered if I’d draw out the activities in the correct order. The answer is…yes I did.

Fa La La La La Outline

Sign Up on Quora

Quora is an online site where people gain and share knowledge. You can ask questions, and other Quora users answer. Or you can answer questions that others are asking. It’s a great place to connect with people with unique insights and common interests.

I downloaded the Quora app, created a profile, identified my areas of interest and knowledge…and answered my first questions!

Check out Quora here.

Fa La La La La Quora
Fa La La La La – Quora

Write Down 62 Things I’m Grateful For

I thought this activity might be the very last one that I drew out of the jar. Alas, no. However, I believe that every activity, every celebration, shows up at exactly the right time.

During this very busy yet joyful season, this activity arrived perfectly placed.

I wrote quickly and without pausing, until I got to line 56. It’s not that I ran out of things to be grateful for. Quite the contrary. I realized I was almost to number 62. Gratitude is the foundation of my life. Expressing thankfulness is a daily practice. I am not limited to 62 things to feel deep gratitude for.

Gratitude

Fa La La La La….La La La La

Tis the season, indeed, for joy, for gratitude, for family and friends, for celebrations, for remembering the reason for it all.

May the blessings of Christmas surround you and yours this week. I’m counting down to my birthday, with the last two weeks of activities. It’s been a fun experience, full of playfulness, creativity and growth opportunities. I love that at the end of these activities, a new year will have dawned. And with it, a whole new adventure.

Week Six Activities

Check out the other activities: week one, two, three, four and five.

 

Start the new year with one of these planners:


 

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Miracle Minded Manager Book Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Thank you to SMITH PUBLICITY for sending me a copy of the book Miracle Minded Manager for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

When Smith Publicity contacted me about reviewing Miracle Minded Manager, my interest peaked immediately. Written by John J. Murphy, the book carries the subtitle, A Modern-Day Parable about How to Apply A Course in Miracles in Business.

I’ve owned a copy of A Course in Miracles for many years, and I’ve yet to work my way through it. This felt like a Divine tap on the shoulder, an invitation to learn more and go deeper.

Check out this sincere review of Miracle Minded Manager…and discover the connection between the two books.

Miracle Minded Manager Title Meme

Miracle Minded Manager Author John J. Murphy

John J. Murphy is a global business consultant, speaker, spiritual teacher and author. He is founder and CEO of Venture Management Consultants, Inc., a firm that specializes in creating high performance work environments.

As a business consultant John provides services to some of the world’s leading organizations including BMW, Chase, GM, Hilton, Target Stores and the US Navy. John’s trained thousands of people from 50+ countries and mentored dozens of project teams. He delivers keynotes and leads seminars world wide. He is the author of 19 books and he’s featured frequently on radio and television shows and in newspapers nationwide. Learn more about John at his website, johnjmurphy.org.

Miracle Minded Manager is the sequel to Murphy’s Agent of Change: Leading a Cultural Revolution, although it is not necessary to read that book before reading this one.

Miracle Minded Manager Book

Miracle Minded Manager Synopsis

We are all familiar with stress and anxiety, unfortunately, as a part of life and business. However, what if those feelings are self-imposed states of mind? And what if we’ve all accepted the ego-thought system as the normal way of seeing, thinking and believing? How important is mindset and our belief systems, to creating the lives that we live and the work that we do?

John answers those questions in Miracle Minded Manager. He teaches us how to get out of our own way by shifting thinking and seeing life, ourselves and others, differently. John does this by integrating the teachings of A Course in Miracles, a spiritual self-study program, with other life lessons in Miracle Minded Manager. We are given tools to eliminate stress and live in deep peace.

John accomplishes this by presenting truths through a unique modern-day parable. In the story, Jack MacDonald, the CEO of a struggling company, feels trapped. Jack, the company and the employees are all stuck in old ways of doing things and old ways of thinking.

Jack turns to business consultant Jordan McKay, who uses spiritual practices to help him work through the challenges, from the past and the present. The parable offers valuable lessons on how to overcome fear and eliminate stress at work and at home, resulting in a “peace that passes all understanding”.

Miracle Minded Manager Stack of Books
My journal and A Course in Miracles became my companions to Miracle Minded Manager.

My Thoughts on Miracle Minded Manager

What a beautiful, thought provoking read. A couple of chapters in and I appreciated the way truths are presented via a fictionalized account. I typically read novels…or  “how-to” books. Miracle Minded Manager combines the two styles to create a story that is easy to read and yet deeply insightful. The book is rich with tips and techniques for alleviating stress and moving away from ego driven thoughts.

I quickly found myself caught up in Jack’s story of growth and transformation as he shifts his thinking and his beliefs. The beauty of this book is that it reads like a novel and yet the teachings are anything but fictional. I’m well aware of the difference that shifting mindset makes. Jack’s journey away from stress and ego-based thinking exemplifies everyone’s journeys. It’s been mine for the last 12 years.

Reading Miracle Minded Manager stirred within me the desire to delve into A Course in Miracles. I pulled my copy of the book from the shelf, grabbed a journal and began working through the lessons. Although I do not complete a lesson daily, I am steadily working my way through the 365 sections. The impact of reading John’s parable and working through the lessons in A Course in Miracles is profound and life changing.

Miracle Minded Manager and A Course in Miracles

Let Go of the Stress

I highly recommend John’s book, whether you manage a company or not. Miracle Minded Manager is a book for living a better life, period. You do not have to work through A Course in Miracles at the same time, although I suspect you will want to at least check this book out.

A few times in the last decade I’ve picked up a book that transferred to me an intense feeling of quiet peace and joy, just from the act of reading it. Miracle Minded Manager is such a book. I finished it and immediately decided to read it again, slowly, allowing the truths to settle deeply.

John shares,

“We all get in our own way from time to time by doubting ourselves and thinking inside a box…a paradigm…that doesn’t exist. It could be a ‘rule’ we follow, like we have to work 40 hours per week, eat three meals a day or wear certain clothing styles. We spend countless hours trying to find ways to improve performance and results inside these ‘boxes’. Entire industries are being disrupted by innovations challenging old paradigms.

The same is true in our personal lives. If we can find innovative ways to work four hours a day, or three days a week, why not? In healthcare, if we can find ways to prevent illness and disease, rather than treat it, what might that look like? This is what miracle minded management is all about. It is about challenging old paradigms with a truly open and fearless mind.”

What does such a life look like, indeed? Let’s find out.

Miracle Minded Manager Journal
I’m writing my own story…

Check out John’s books and these journals from Amazon:

 


 

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Going Beyond Comfort Zones

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I just completed week five of my birthday celebrations. Amazingly, I’m already more than halfway through my 62 activities for my 62nd birthday. With a game that runs this long, I get into the flow of it and drawing an activity and carrying it out becomes part of my day. So it’s very good to shake me up a bit and keep me moving beyond comfort zones. That’s exactly what this week accomplished.

The comfort zone is a state of being in which things feel familiar and safe. While in our comfort zones, we feel like we are in control and anxiety and fear levels are low. There is nothing wrong with feeling comfortable. However, we can become so accustomed to being in that state that we stop growing, stop challenging ourselves, and life can feel a bit stale.

I like the personal growth that comes from going beyond comfort zones. That momentary discomfort is nothing compared to the exhilaration of new adventures and accomplishments.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones title meme

Week Five Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones

Here is how I’ve gone beyond this week.

Write a Travel Piece and Submit It

As a blogger I write all the time and my work is read publicly. So why did I almost drop this slip of paper back into the jar? It feels so different to send in my work and have someone else decide if my writing is good enough for their publication.

This activity propelled me beyond my comfort zone. I reworked a blog post I wrote, about how travelling helps me to grow. Delta Sky Magazine and World Nomads both captured my interest. I’ve sent off pitches to both.

The importance isn’t whether either accepts my pitch and asks for the submission. What is important is that I took action and reached out. Action begets more actions and one step at a time I move beyond the edges of where I feel most comfortable.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Travel Piece
Going beyond comfort zones by submitting a travel piece.

Take a Power Nap

I am not a nap taker. In fact, as a child, I didn’t like to nap OR sleep at night. I still consider myself a night owl who enjoys being awake into the wee hours of the morning.

To complete this activity I had to schedule it into my day, for a nap seems like a waste of time to me and an intrusion. However, there are benefits from sleeping for a short period of time.

A power nap last 10 – 40 minutes. That brief break in the day improves learning and memory, prevents stress, boosts mood and creativity and helps to power up productivity and alertness. Those naps can even slash the risk for heart disease.

Our sleep cycles are divided into four stages.

  • one – light sleep somewhere between fully awake and sound asleep
  • two – real sleep where we are unaware of our surroundings
  • three and four – deep sleep where muscles relax and breathing slows and rapid eye movement (REM) begins

Typically REM begins 90 minutes into the sleep cycle. The perfect power nap stays in stage one and two for up to 40 minutes. If you sleep any longer than that, you’ll feel groggy unless you continue to sleep for 90 minutes and complete the cycle.

I waited until 3:00 to do my activity, when sunlight streamed in through southern windows. My cat Rilynn curled up in my lap and encouraged me by promptly falling asleep. Aren’t cats incredible nappers? I didn’t know if I could even doze off.

Covered by a soft blanket, snuggled with a cat, bathed in warm sunlight I did manage to fall asleep…for exactly 10 minutes.

And I did feel rejuvenated. I didn’t try power napping again, but perhaps I should work on scheduling one in daily.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Power Nap
Rilynn enjoyed the sunshine and the nap.

Listen to a Podcast I’ve Never Listened to Before

I’ve only recently begun to listen to podcasts and I’m not sure why. Podcasts are audio, and sometimes visual, episodes online that range from a few minutes long to a couple of hours. They cover a wide range of topics. Although I almost always play music while in the car, I rarely listen to a podcast. I’m in the process of changing that.

For this activity I selected a podcast from a series called The School of Greatness, by Lewis Howes. I receive emails from Lewis and finally listened to one of his podcasts. Titled Compassion Over Pity with Humble Poet, the recording is excellent. Check out Lewis’ podcasts HERE.

Lewis is a NYT author, lifestyle entrepreneur and former pro athlete. He shares inspiring stories from brilliant business minds, world class athletes and influential celebrities to help listeners discover what creates greatness.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Podcasts

Create My Own 30 Day Flip Calendar of Inspiring Quotes

I’ve enjoyed this activity. Using index cards on a spiral ring, I used the blank side to write out quotes. My desire is to inspire, encourage and challenge myself…daily. This little DIY flip calendar helps to accomplish that.

So far I’ve written a dozen quotes. I’m taking my time because I want the quotes to find me or draw me. There are many that I’ve used over the years that I could quickly jot down but that’s not what I’m going for. I want to be challenged to think big, expand my awareness and go beyond.

When I have 30 quotes written out I’ll go back through the cards and number them and perhaps add artistic illustrations.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Flip Calendar
Going Beyond

Send a Message of Appreciation to an Actor/Actress

I have great appreciation for actors and actresses who do what they love doing. They enjoy their craft and they excel at stepping out of themselves and into another role. I’m sure my appreciation for performers and films are strongly connected.

Truthfully, though, I felt embarrassed that I wrote out this activity. What was I thinking? Who to contact? And how to get a message to someone?

Back to podcasts. One that I am enjoying is called The Well Podcast. It offers stories and interviews that feature creative inspiration. And it is hosted by Branan Edgens, a film editor and cinematographer, and Anson Mount, an actor who recently portrayed Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek Discovery. I love what Anson brings to a well known although little portrayed character.

Branan and Anson interview fun guests on their casual podcasts and seem to enjoy the banter. Listen in as guest Doug Jones, a regular on Star Trek Discovery, shares amusing stories from his career.

I selected Branan and Anson to write a note to, expressing appreciation for all that they offer to the world. It doesn’t matter whether they respond to that note or not. I accomplished the intended purpose of the activity…going beyond comfort zones to reach out to someone “famous”, with no expectations in return.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Celebs

Create a New Recipe

Since switching to a plant based lifestyle, I spend more time in the kitchen preparing healthy meals. I’ve become much more at ease and creative in the cooking process, although I still refer to recipes most of the time.

In spite of writing this activity, I felt stumped when I drew it out of the jar. I had a packed out day ahead. What should I even attempt to create?

I love when I put a question out there…and then go on about my business. Because, invariably, the answer shows up while I’m busy doing something else. Such was the case with creating a new recipe. Out of nowhere, it seemed, the words aloo matar soup popped into my head.

I love this Indian dish made with onions, potatoes, tomatoes, peas and spices such as curry, ginger and garam masala. How well would this dish transform into a soup? I had my idea for a new recipe.

I have to say, the aloo matar soup turned out wonderfully well. Resisting the urge to just peek at a recipe, I instead added ingredients with confidence. The resulting soup has all the flavor of aloo matar with a rich broth. I’ll be making this spicy soup again.

Going Beyond Comfort Zones Create a Recipe
Going beyond comfort zones by creating a new recipe.

Have an Indoor Camp Out and Sleep in a Blanket Tent

I envisioned drawing this activity on a Friday or Saturday evening, when I had the weekend to recover! Talk about going beyond comfort zones…with the emphasis on comfort. I haven’t slept on the floor in a blanket tent since childhood.

All evening, as I continued to work on writing projects, I debated on whether to draw out another activity and save this one for Saturday night. That’s not the way this game works though. So at 10:00 pm, I snapped my laptop closed and built a blanket tent…technically a sheet tent…in my creative studio.

I lay cushions from the living room sofa on the floor, covered them with a quilt and then added a sleeping bag. A queen sized sheet draped over two chairs formed my tent. I lit candles throughout the room…well away from the tent…prepared a cup of chai hot chocolate and settled into camp out mode.

How lovely the experience became with flickering candlelight, soft music playing on my iPod, and a cup of dairy free, sugar free hot chocolate. It was, indeed, the perfect night for this activity. After finishing the hot chocolate, I crawled into my sleeping bag and listened to yet another podcast on Lewis Howes’ site, this one called The Five Second Rule by Mel Robbins.

I slept well, snug in my sleeping bag, and woke up refreshed. And surprisingly, I crawled out of the tent and stood up without groaning!

Going Comfort Zones Camp Out
Did you ever make a blanket tent as a kid?

Going Beyond…and Onward

These weeks of activities are bringing rewards beyond playfulness. I am growing. I’m learning things about myself. And I’m excited to see what’s next.

You can check out the weeks of activities below.

62 Outrageous Things to  Do for My 62nd Birthday

Week One, Week Two, Week Three, Week Four

Birthday Activities

Pick up a sleeping bag and create your own indoor camp out!

 

 

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How to Choose a Word and Symbol for the Year

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As this year winds down, I’m already in planning mode for the new one. I consider this month an overlap time. It’s an excellent season for reviewing all that I’ve accomplished this past year…and a time for gearing up for an exciting fresh start in January.

Two of the creative tools that I use as I enter a new year are choosing a word and a symbol. The word becomes my theme for the year while the symbol is a visual reminder of that theme. Truthfully, these practices are so much more than tools. Together the word and symbol guide me through the year, inspire me, encourage me and remind me of my purpose in life.

Interested in learning how to choose a word and symbol for the year? Read on!

How to Choose a Word and Symbol for the Year title meme

Why Choose a Word and Symbol

I began the practice of choosing a word fifteen years ago when I became a realtor. Choosing a word and a symbol was more about building a business initially. Those words, such as Reach, inspired me to expand my thinking and my business. Being a visual person, adding a symbol for the year came naturally, as did creating a yearly vision board.

Within a couple of years, I realized that the words carried greater significance. The words inspired my LIFE, not just my work. I learned an important lesson. My work flows from my life, or ideally it should. The process of choosing a word shifted as my awareness increased. Words such as Change showed up.

I know now that choosing a word and a symbol for the year creates a guidance system for life and for business. The word is a “heads up” about the growth that is occurring as I journey. And both tools serve as markers along the way, keeping me moving in the right direction.

How to Choose a Word and Symbol for the Year
2019 Vision Board with my word Enchantment and the word Queen, representing my symbol.

How to Choose a Word and Symbol for the Year

There are several ways to find your word and symbol for the year. See which of these works best for you.

Choose a Word and Symbol that Carries Significance

Is there a word and symbol that already have deep meaning for you? Use those. Perhaps you are currently experiencing great joy after a season of trials. Joy may be the word to guide you through the next year. Or perhaps the Butterfly symbol draws you. Transformation might be the word to accompany that visual.

Make a list of words that resonate

Another idea is to make a list of words that resonate. What words draw you or inspire you? Write them down. I’d suggest writing quickly and allowing the words to pop up as you write. Don’t overthink.

Look over your words and circle the ones that most intrigue or interest you. Select one of these words as your theme for the new year. If all the words on your list appeal to you, write them on slips of paper, drop them into a jar and draw one out randomly. You know how much I appreciate randomness!

Now think of symbol that represents that word or is a companion to the word. Sometimes the connection between the word and symbol is a very personal one that only has meaning for you.

Allow the Word and Symbol to Choose You

This is my favorite way of acquiring a new word and symbol. The year that Believe was my word and the dragonfly my symbol, I realized I was not the one doing the choosing. I accept the gifts of a word and symbol, rather than choose.

Here is how it works for me.

The word shows up first, mid year to early fall, through synchronicities and repetition. I see and hear and read the word everywhere. In a conversation with a stranger, the word pops up. I hear it in a commercial. I read it on a license plate. The repetition is my signal to pay attention. Once I acknowledge the word, the symbol begins to show up in the same way…synchronicity and repetition.

This year Enchantment is my word. It began showing up last summer, in print form, conversations and by just popping into my head. Then the queen chess piece appeared, sometimes as often as five or six times a day, until I acknowledged that she was my symbol. Read the significance of that word and symbol in this post, Queen of Enchantment.

I know that enchantment and the queen chess piece appeared in connection with a question I woke up with one morning:

Do you want to be the queen of your own kingdom, or a pawn in someone else’s?

My word and my symbol guided me through a year of changes that beget the creation of my own tiny…and now expanding…kingdom.

How to Choose a Word and Symbol for the Year Enchantment
Art I created using my symbol and a variant of my word.

Guidance from the Word and Symbol for the Year

Once your word and symbol for the year are in place, watch for the magic to happen! The word and symbol will pop up in a variety of ways, to remind you of the journey you are on and your purpose in life. They are like a private joke between you and the Divine, when they show up.

I call forth the power of my word, when I need it.

In a challenging real estate situation this year, I reminded myself that I am a the Queen of Enchantment, building my kingdom. My words carry weight and meaning and through speaking aloud…enchantment…I am creating my reality. How would a queen handle the situation? What would she say? It helped!

As bonuses, create a vision board to hang in your office or bedroom that incorporates your word and symbol. And, for fun, find a song for the year too. The song is usually the last component to arrive for me. I add it to a playlist on my phone so that I can listen to it often.

Song for 2019
Song for 2019, Ever Ever After, from Enchanted Soundtrack.

A Podcast to Listen to or Watch

Have fun choosing a word and symbol for the year. Know that both will accompany you throughout the next 12 months, offering guidance and presenting reminders about who you are.

I’d love to know what word and symbol you end up with!

For more info about the process of creating a powerful start to the new year, have a listen to this podcast, or watch it below on YouTube. I appreciate Dan with Impact Training & Development for having me as a guest!

 

Create Your Own Vision Board

And be sure to include your word and symbol for the year!

 

 


 

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Out of the Rut

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A distinct theme ran through this week of celebrations, on the way to my 62nd birthday in January.” Get out of the rut”, the activities commanded. “Do familiar things in new ways.”

I love fresh experiences. And there are benefits that accompany changing routines and trying different things. Switching things up helps to:

  • overcome fear
  • deepen self understanding
  • raise awareness
  • create new pathways in the brain
  • boost memory and cognitive abilities
  • stimulate creativity

I’m grateful for activities that push me out of the rut. That “deep track” forms from repeated patterns of behavior that create dullness after a while. The longer I stay in a rut, the more difficult it is to step out of it.

Read this post, for an overview of the birthday game I am playing. And then check out the rut busting activities below.

Out of the Rut title meme

Week Four Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Out of the Rut

I love how this week’s activities illuminated ways that I’ve followed the same routines for too long.

Decorate My Norfolk Pine Tree for Christmas

I’ve always decorated freshly cut Fraser Fir trees for Christmas. I love the scent that fills my home and plugging in the strands of white Christmas lights, after the tree is decorated. Those lights remain lit until early January, when I undecorate the tree and haul it out of the house.

What if? I wondered as I wrote out activities for this game. What if I used the living Norfolk Pine that graces my home? That evergreen grew from a tiny eight inch tall tree to its current height of about four feet. I purchased the miniature potted Christmas tree years ago, to give to a hospitalized friend. She went home though the same day I bought the tree, so I kept it.

Over the years I’ve strung mini lights on the Norfolk Pine and hung tiny glass balls on the branches. However, the tree remained tucked into a bedroom or office. It’s never been center stage, until now.

One strand of white lights adorns the tree, perched merrily atop a table in the living room. A few of my heart ornaments that I’ve collected hang on the branches. The rest lay grouped in a shallow white bowl next to the tree. A fun Christmas sweater that I wore a few years ago serves as a tree skirt.

If I was a bit unsure initially about the outcome of this activity, I’m not now. I love my little living Christmas tree. And surprisingly, that change set off a chain reaction of changes throughout the house.

Out of the Rut - Christmas Tree
Out of the Rut – Different Christmas Tree
Out of the Rut - App
Kindle App

Download a New App

I ended up with a part one and part two during this activity. When I selected it from the jar, I immediately thought of the Kindle app because of a recent conversation with my daughter. She informed me that thousands of ebooks are available for downloaded from Amazon Prime, with the Kindle app. How exciting. (Get Amazon Prime for a free trial, to download books.)

A few days later, perhaps because of my increased awareness of apps, I discovered that Duolingo, a free app already present on my iPhone, released a new language to learn. Duolingo teaches languages in a fun way via games, vocabulary, audio re-enforcement and goal setting. I’ve briefly played with the app, picking up a smattering of Italian and Portuguese.

I don’t consider myself a auditory learner, meaning it is difficult for me, I tell myself, to learn languages. I require stronger motivation apparently. The new language that Duolingo just released is Gaelic Scottish! You can imagine my delight. I’m having so much fun, going beyond my own perceived limitations and learning Gaelic.

Download the mobile app to check out this ancient language. I don’t see it yet on the website.

Out of the Rut Gaelic
Out of the Rut – Duolingo App

Create a Fresh Christmas Vignette

Swapping out a cut tree for my Norfolk Pine unexpectedly set a trend for Christmas decorating. Inspired by the success of that change created the desire to really shake things up. Therefore, drawing out this activity just a couple of days later seemed perfect.

For several years I’ve been gradually using more and more everyday items in my holiday decor. This creates less packing away and stashing of the usual items that fill my home and it’s fun to blend Christmas with vintage family pieces.

This year I packed away very few of the day-to-day decor. Instead, I found new ways to incorporate those pieces into Christmas vignettes. This proved fun and challenging at the same time! I love this type of puttering around the house as I try out different arrangements.

My favorite technique this season is layering as I mix Christmas with everyday items. Check out the simple vignette on my vintage wooden chair below.

Out of the Rut - Christmas Vignette
Out of the Rut – Fresh Christmas Vignette

Plan a Ten Day Trip to a Country NOT on My Travel Wish List

You know how much I love to travel and explore new countries. So which country not on my current travel wish list to choose? For this activity, I decided to continue with the randomness that is a major component of this game. Did you know that there is a random country generator online? I allowed it to select a country for me to plan an imaginary trip to.

Amazingly, the generator selected Saint Barthelemy, also known as St. Barts, an island country in the Caribbean where French is the primary language. St. Barts is known for white sand beaches, designer shops, harbors full of yachts and high end restaurants. There are historical attractions as well, such as Wall House, whose exhibits highlight the island’s Swedish Colonial era.

While I love being around water, I much prefer a river winding through woods or a deep lake in an expansive valley over beaches with views of the ocean. St. Bart’s main points of interest are ALL beaches. How fun for me, feeling completely out of my element, to research this little country and plan ten days of visiting beach after beach after beach.

An extraordinary thing happened as I studied the photos of turquoise water and sandy beaches. I began to catch the scent of salty sea air and feel warm breezes on my face. An empty hammock slung between two palm trees invited me to rest. And a deep sigh escaped. I could enjoy ten days in such a paradise with nothing to do beyond exploring coves and tiny towns, pausing often to listen to the ocean’s serenade.

Guess what country is now on my travel wish list? Yes. Saint Barthelemy.

Out of the Rut Plan a Trip
Out of the Rut – St Barts

Compliment a Stranger

While not totally out of the ordinary for me, this activity did not go the way I expected it to. I envisioned chatting to someone while waiting in line at the grocery store or complimenting a waitress for a job well done at a restaurant. As it turned out, the only stranger I talked to on this particular day was a real estate appraiser on the phone.

These activities are providing excellent lessons on releasing expectations. The appraiser was kind and helpful as we chatted on the phone and my compliments to him genuine and intentional. Did the appraisal go the way I wanted it to? No. But that’s another lesson in trust and letting go.

Compliment a Stranger
Giving a compliment over the phone.

Brush My Teeth While Standing on One Leg

This activity seemed the easiest to carry out, of the 62. However, it proved surprisingly difficult to remain on one leg while brushing my teeth. Doing so required intense concentration, with continual small adjustments to keep my balance.

With all my focus on remaining upright on my right leg, I suddenly realized something. The toothpaste tasted different, in a pleasant way. I checked. It was my usual brand and yet the taste was distinctively “other” than usual.

Curious, I’m researching this phenomenon. Is it possible that intense concentration can alter the senses, including taste? I’m still looking for an explanation. Beyond a scientific answer I can offer this conjecture. Perhaps performing old routines in fresh ways unlocks new physical responses.

Out of the Rut Brushing Teeth on One Leg
Unexpected benefits brushing my teeth while standing on one leg.

Meditate for One Hour

I’ve practiced meditation for many years. It is a wonderful way to quiet the mind, relax the body and connect with the Divine. Although I’ve experienced longer periods of meditation, I typically spend a few minutes remaining still and centered, focused on breathing.

The challenge with long meditations is the tendency for the mind to assert itself and wander into the past or future, creating stories. Or, conversely, I can go so deep into stillness that I fall asleep.

The latter created the challenge last night. After a very long day, I began the meditation at almost midnight. The Christmas decorating complete, I lit candles throughout the house for the first time this season. My darkened bedroom provided a peaceful sanctuary. The flickering candlelight created a soothing atmosphere perfect for meditating. Or sleeping.

I counted last night’s activity a failure, as I barely lasted ten minutes before succumbing to sleep. However when I awoke this morning, I changed my verdict. I slept deeply. I felt rested. Ten minutes can feel like an hour…or deepen into eight hours of blissful sleep.

To hold myself accountable, I’ll spend a full hour meditating this weekend. I’m okay with the way last night’s meditation went.

The Power of Meditation
Meditation as a prelude to sleep. Sorry for the grainy photo. Candlelight is to blame.

Out of the Rut and Onto New Paths

I see distinct themes for the different weeks of activities. Week One provided learning opportunities. Challenges filled Week Two, creating growth. And Week Three featured playful creativity.

I love this journey. And I am loving these life lessons disguised as a game.

Bring on Week Four!

Out of the Rut Week Four Activities

 


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Movie Review Ford v Ferrari

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When a friend invited Greg and me to see the film Ford v Ferrari with him, I happily agreed. I’m not all that into cars. However, my dad used to own a race car and I’m a fan of Christian Bale AND Matt Damon. Plus, I loved the 2013 movie Rush about the rivalry between Formula One drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda. I knew enough to know that Ford v Ferrari is not just a movie about racing cars. It’s a story about friendship and perseverance and being who you are, which is precisely my kind of movie.

Enjoy this review of Ford v Ferrari. Mild spoilers about the story included, without giving away the ending.

Ford v Ferrari title meme

Ford v Ferrari Cast

This biographical drama stars Matt Damon, Christian Bale, Caitriona Balfe, Noah Jupe, Tracy Letts, Remo Girone, Josh Lucas and Ben Bernthal. Ford v Ferrari is directed by James Mangold. The film carries a PG-13 rating, for moderate language, and has a run time of 2 hours and 32 minutes.

Ford v Ferrari Carroll Shelby
Pro racer and car designer, Carroll Shelby

The Friendship

Professional racer Carroll Shelby (Damon) is forced into an early retirement due to a heart condition. He becomes a car salesman, however he stays active in the racing community. His friend, Ken Miles (Bales), is an extraordinary driver and car mechanic. But his reactionary tendency to tell-it-like-it-is causes most people to keep their distance. Ken runs his own mechanic shop to support his wife Mollie (Balfe) and son Peter (Jupe). His heart, however, longs to race…the faster the better.

At Ford Motors, sales are down. Henry Ford II (Letts) gathers his staff for a brainstorming session. One of his underlings, Lee Iacocca (Bernthal) pitches an idea. He suggests that race cars, like the Italian made Ferrari, are the sexiest cars. If Ford could compete and win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in France, it would change the future of the company.

Initially Ford attempts to buy the struggling Ferrari company, with Enzo Ferrari (Girone) retaining control of the racing division. When Ferrari refuses the offer, and insults Ford in the process, Henry Ford decides to start his own racing division.

Lee Iacocca approaches Shelby, the only American to ever win at Le Mans, to head up designing and testing cars for the new Ford racing division. Shelby agrees and immediately recruits his friend Ken Miles, the best driver he knows.

Ford v Ferrari Mollie and Ken
Mollie and Ken Miles
Ford v Ferrari Ken and Peter
Ken Miles and son Peter

The Ford Racing Division

As the first race arrives, bringing the opportunity to try out the modified car, Ford vice president Leo Bebee (Lucas) pulls Shelby aside. Miles’ unpredictable behavior concerns him. Bebee fears Miles won’t represent the company well. Against Shelby’s advice, Bebee replaces Miles with another driver. Ford loses the race.

Ken Miles rejoins the team, at Shelby’s insistence, however Bebee constantly seeks to block him as a driver. In a gutsy move, Shelby puts Ford into one of the cars and shows him the power and danger involved, driving a race car. The ploy works. Shelby persuades Henry Ford II to allow Miles to drive. It’s the only way they have a chance of winning the Le Mans.

Shelby and Miles and their team work long hours perfecting the car, before the big race. Ford agrees to let Miles drive in Le Mans, if he wins the Daytona. Against tough competition and a second Ford car entered by Bebee, Miles secures the win…and the chance to race at Le Mans.

Both Ford and Ferrari attend the race in France. It’s a grueling 24 hours of racing that includes nighttime driving and rainy weather. Ferrari typically wins the race. Ford places three cars in the competition, with Miles driving one. Bebee attends the race as well and he’s determined to see Miles fail.

It’s the race of a lifetime, with high stakes and even higher personal ambitions and desires on the line. It truly is Ford v Ferrari. Who will win?

Ford v Ferrari Shelby and Miles
Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles

Ford v Ferrari Racing

My Thoughts on Ford v Ferrari

I loved this film. My dad came to mind often, as he loved the whole racing scene. Beyond the thrill of watching the intense race scenes and learning a great deal about building a better car, I enjoyed the friendship portrayed between Carroll Shelby and Ken Miles.

I can’t say enough good things about the actors playing those roles. The onscreen chemistry between them was authentic. Matt Damon possesses the ability to take on any role and bring his natural charm to the part. And Christian Bale! From gaining weight to play Vice President Dick Cheney in Vice, to losing 70 pounds to play Ken Miles, Bale gives his all to a performance. He even took race driving lessons at the Bondurant High Performance Driving School. Truthfully, Bale dominates this film, in a very good way. I adored Ken Miles and his ability to remain true to who he was, even when others sought to change him or dismiss him.

Ford v Ferrari is an excellent movie about the best things in life…doing what you love, being who you are and traveling through life with good people by your side. When you get to take part of the journey in cars that can reach speeds of 200+ MPH, well that just sweetens the experience for some!

Ford v Ferrari Ken Miles
Ford v Ferrari’s Ken Miles, excellently portrayed by Christian Bale.

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