Day 346: Commercial Shoot for Y – Zumba Gold

Joplin Y logo

I love it when a first falls into my lap. I had a planned first for today and was mulling it over as I stepped into Zumba class at the Joplin Family Y – South. I was a few minutes late and the first dance was under way. I made sure that I smiled and waved at everyone and then joined the class, front row and to the right. Zumba was a first for me, way back in February (Day 38). I was concerned I’d be able to keep up with the pace, and had intended for my first Zumba experience to also be my last. I fell in love with the Latin based dance routines and have a great appreciation for Dave, our awesome Zumba instructor. I attend class three times a week and miss the workout greatly if I have to skip a class.

Today, Dave paused after the first dance to let me know, since I was late, that we were learning a new routine today. And….oh yeah….we were going to be filmed today. What? was all I had time to say before we started the next routine. Just as we finished the second number, a camera man with KODE Channel 12 appeared at our door, all smiles.

What I didn’t realize was that this was a professional shoot. I had thought Dave meant that he was filming us today, to use as promotional material. The Y is creating a new commercial spot, to be aired on TV. The camera man was here to get footage from all over the Y, including the Zumba Gold class.

I don’t know if the others in my class realized it was a commercial shoot….or it was just me that was discovering this fact. But when Dave spotted the cameraman, he moved to his music list, announcing we were going to do the new dance. We protested! If we had to be filmed, at least let it be a routine we knew well!

Dave is a brilliant guy. He knew exactly what he was doing, introducing a new dance for the filming. We Zumba Gold ladies get used to the dances and can move through them on auto pilot. I am focusing on awareness and being present in the moment….and yet, I can still suddenly realize my mind has left my body, even as it is dancing, and that I’ve lost track of where we are, exactly, in the routine. You’d think turning the wrong way and facing the rest of the class as they all face the correct way would be enough to make me pay more attention….but no. By cuing up a new song, with new moves, Dave got our full attention. We had to watch him carefully and keep our focus sharp, or risk a mis-step on film.

The camera man reminded us to smile. It’s a workout, especially when we are learning new moves, yet we laughed and smiled as we danced. And with all eyes on Dave, we moved through the new routine well. At the end of the number, the guy from KODE thanked us and left to capture more footage. Our routine will be shortened down to a snippet of the commercial, I’m sure. It was a fun, first experience, being filmed for a commercial during Zumba class, and I decided to claim it. I’m learning to be much more spontaneous and today, I didn’t even try to hide behind a classmate. I just went with it. And then, it was back to our regularly scheduled Zumba.

kode channel 12 commercial

Day 345: Good or Great

Good or Great

Today’s first was inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert. I catch Liz’s posts daily on Facebook, and appreciate her insights so much. This morning, after reading her post titled Don’t Give Up the Great for the Good, I challenged myself to reflect her on words as I moved through my day and come up with my own list of Great Things to share.

Liz herself was inspired by Pastor Rob Bell, while both were on the Life You Want Tour, with Oprah. Rob shared that we only have so many hours in a day, and more importantly, only so many days in a life. We can fill our day with GOOD things, stay busy doing GOOD things. We have important things to do, items we must cross off our to-do list, important things to accomplish in our businesses, lives and relationships. My list might include: take care of clients, shop for groceries, pay bills, answer emails, texts and phone calls, clean house, service my car.

These are all responsible, good things to do.

There are GREAT things we can do too. Each person knows what lies within that definition of great, and it is a different list for each of us. As Liz shared, there is a clue. My great things are whatever makes my soul ignite, my heart sing, and whatever makes me say, “Oh my God, I’m so excited that I get to do this GREAT THING today!”

Liz then shared her list of Great Things, which was my inspiration for creating a list of my own. After much thought today, and much contemplation about what makes my heart come alive, what lights my face up and infuses my soul with joy, I created this list, in no particular order of importance:

  1. Meditation and reflective time
  2. Time spent in quiet and solitude, especially in nature (non-meditation time)
  3. Writing
  4. Gardening…getting my hands dirty…knowing the satisfaction of creating a living, changing landscape
  5. Creating intimate, peaceful, joyful spaces
  6. Connecting with others, especially those I love
  7. Sharing in a meaningful way
  8. Creating beautiful and interesting vignettes and items
  9. Savoring tea time
  10. Traveling, especially to Scotland, but also to new places
  11. Learning something new that helps me grow and then helping others grow
  12. Increasing my awareness….spiritually, physically, mentally, intuitively

That’s it…at this time in my life. Next year, the list might change. For now, these are the GREAT THINGS  I can do that feed my soul and enlarge my boundaries, bring me joy and make me look forward to starting my day. When my days are full of the good things, full of the responsible things, and the great is crowded out, then it is time for me to simplify or eliminate some of the good, to make room for the great. It is all my choice. If I’m not doing the things that light up my life, I need to ask myself why.

I believe I’ll print out the list or even better, work the GREAT THINGS into my vision board for 2015, as a reminder that I am made for something more than the good things that I do. I am created for great things. I intend to experience one or more of the items from my list, on a daily basis, ensuring that I am growing and being and offering from the core of who I am.

I love this quote of Howard Thurman’s, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” I am alive, as I pursue the Great Things on my list. The world needs me. The world needs us all, awake and aware and alive.

Good or Great quote

Day 344: Buy Lottery Tickets

Found abundance money

For people who know me well, two things about today’s first would be true. It isn’t a surprise to them that I’ve never bought a lottery ticket before. And it might be a surprise that today, I did. I have nothing against anyone who occasionally, or even regularly, plunks down a few dollars in the hopes of gaining much more in return, especially with the mega lotteries, where the prizes can get into the hundreds of millions. I’ve just never wanted to spend my money in that way. I don’t gamble at casinos either. It’s not a moral issue. It’s a mathematical issue to me. I know the odds are against me, so I just don’t bother.

However, during this year of firsts, I was inspired by, of all things, an episode of the TV show Modern Family. One of the young characters, Manny, collects money that he finds on the ground. When he has enough of this “lucky” money, he intends to purchase a lottery ticket, hoping that the luck will continue and bring him wealth. I was intrigued. What if I did the same, with money I found lying on the ground? The idea appealed to me, and I began to glance down more often, watching for coins.

That was a shift for me, and really the most important part of this little exercise. Up until now, I have not bothered to pick up pennies, or quarters, lying on the ground. Once I found a dollar on the parking lot, and a $20 bill, also on a parking lot. Those I did retrieve. But the small change, I didn’t really even notice. Greg is much more aware of these coins than I’ve ever been and will pick up any money that he spies, even if it’s lying next to someone’s foot! I used to pretend I didn’t know him when he would nonchalantly walk over and pick up a dime. However, his awareness is very high in this area, and he finds a lot of change in a year.

Recently, as a friend approached me, he suddenly bent and picked up a penny and handed it to me, saying as he did so, “Abundance”. He went on to explain that he always picks up any money that he sees on the ground, acknowledging it as a sign that abundance is near. My friend, Mark, has a similar philosophy. Perhaps it was time for my own awareness to open up. I created a money jar, and this year, I’ve paid more attention to those stray nickels, dimes, pennies and quarters lying on the ground, picking them up, giving thanks for abundance, and saving the coins to purchase a lottery ticket.

Found abundance money coins for the year

Realizing that the year is winding down, today I decided to use the accumulated coins to purchase my first lottery tickets. I counted out almost $5 in change. Other family members, knowing that I was picking up coins, have joined in my adventure and contributed to the fund. Just two weeks ago, my six year old granddaughter, Aubrey, crawled under the counter at Chuck E Cheese and triumphantly handed me a penny, saying, “For your money jar.”

I selected a convenience store and waited in the parking lot for customers to clear out. In a few minutes, the store was completely empty and no one was pumping gas. It was time. I appreciated the young man behind the counter. I told him what I was doing and showed him my coins. It was important to me to pay for the tickets with the actual money that I found. He was game, although he seemed surprised that I had never bought a ticket before. At his suggestion, I purchased three scratch off tickets, one for $2 and two for $1 each. After dinner and a bit of relaxing, I used one of the pennies from my jar to scratch away the coating on the tickets to see if I had won anything. I had the potential to win up to $32,000. I won a free ticket. I had already decided that if I won a small amount of money, I would use it to purchase more tickets, continuing to play until I ran out of options. I’ll redeem my ticket for another chance.

I had fun with this first, knowing that I was using money that found its way to me. I learned new things about myself in the process. I’ve had a lot of limiting, negative beliefs about money. I am currently releasing those and raising my awareness as I open myself up to abundance, which is about so much more than money. Money is energy, like everything else. It flows. It moves through me and beyond. The energy today around buying my first lottery tickets was playful, joyful, adventurous. Those are beliefs about abundance that I can embrace.

found abundance  money lottery tickets

Day 343: Extraordinary Measures

Extraordinary Measures poster

I called a movie night for this evening, after a long day followed an extremely short night. It was all for goodness sake, the loss of sleep. However, with weariness bearing down on me, a quick meal, hot shower and a short movie sounded like the perfect end to the day. I browsed through my sister Linda’s dvd collection, in hopes of finding a movie there that I had not seen before. Doing so would save me a drive to the rental store so that I could get this movie night underway more quickly! I found a film I’d not seen before. Being in Linda’s collection, the movie of course starred Harrison Ford. That’s okay. I’m a Harrison fan myself.

Extraordinary Measures stars Harrison Ford, Brendan Fraser, Keri Russell, Meredith Droeger and Diego Valezquez. It was directed by Tom Vaughn and is based on the book by Geeta Anand, “The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million – And Bucked the Medical Establishment – in a Quest to Save His Children”, which in turn is based on the real life events of the Crowley Family. This drama is rated PG, for mild language, and has a run time of 1 hour and 41 minutes.

I seem to have been drawn frequently this year to movies based on true stories. This movie was no exception. John Crowley (Fraser), a successful advertising executive, has a beautiful wife (Russell), and three young children. Theirs seems to be an average family, with school and birthday parties, doting parents and siblings who tease each other. Average, until one notices that two of the three children are in wheelchairs and on ventilators, victims of a muscle wasting disease called Pompe. This genetic disorder, which is similar to muscular dystrophy, has no cure and most of the children afflicted die before their 10th birthdays.

Megan (Droeger) and Patrick (Valezquez) are growing progressively weaker, risking organ failure. The parents refuse to watch helplessly while their children die. John reaches out to an eccentric but brilliant scientist, Dr. Robert Stonehill (Ford), who is working on an enzyme treatment for children with Pompe. His promising research appears to offer the only hope for the Crowley children. Although Dr. Stonehill lacks the funding to bring his research to clinical trials, and has “interpersonal relationship” issues, John pursues a working relationship with the prickly man by personally raising money for critical lab work. Leaving his job, he takes on the full time task of acquiring funds, working with venture capitalists and then selling the growing research company to scientific rivals, all with one goal in mind: create a treatment that will save his children, before time runs out for them. With a ruthlessness that slices through most of his relationships, business and personal, John doggedly pursues a future for his kids. Extraordinary measures, indeed.

As I always do, after watching a “based on a true story” movie, I googled afterward to check the story for accuracy. John’s children were much younger than their film counterparts as they struggled for life. And the Dr. Stonehill character is based on a composite of scientists and researchers, primarily Dr. William Canfield. Otherwise, this is an accurate portrayal of the lengths, and depths, parents will go to for the well being of their children. The Crowleys exhibited a “never give up” attitude and a fierce love for their kids. Their battle wasn’t just against time…it was against drug companies and the FDA, big corporations and profit making. When John found himself against a seemingly impassable wall, he either created a door and moved quickly through, or went around it, often encouraged by the untraditional Dr. Stonehill.

As a parent, and Yaya, I was moved by the great love and determination that the parents had for their children . As a parent, and Yaya, I’d do anything to further the well being of my kids and grandkids, loving them fiercely, wanting the very best possible future for each of them. I could feel empathy for the Crowleys as they fought for the lives of their kids. There were tearful moments during the film. I was especially captured by the scene with young Megan, after a near death experience, staring intently into the eyes of her father as he bowed his head over her. No words were spoken. They didn’t need to be. Here was a daughter, her gaze full of calmness and quiet hope, trusting her daddy to be there….no matter what happened. And a father who promised, with his eyes, that he would always be there….no matter what happened. I was humbled, and undone, watching that tender moment.

I am happy to say that the Crowley children are still living, the created treatment successful in easing their symptoms and prolonging their life while also enhancing the quality of it. This movie was an uplifting experience for this evening, refreshing to my mind and spirit. My tired body, on the other hand, is ready for an early bedtime and a deep restorative sleep. I’ll take the warmth of this movie with me as I turn in.

Extraordinary Measures scene

Day 342: National Brownie Day

IMG_3742.JPG

I’ve discovered during this year of firsts that we sure love to celebrate our food! Many different days are dedicated to favorites such as ice cream, popcorn, pizza and pastries. Occasionally I’ll select a food day to recognize. Today is National Brownie Day and it seemed like a fun one to celebrate.

A chef at Chicago’s Palmer House Hotel created the confection after Bertha Palmer requested a dessert for ladies attending the Chicago 1893 World Fair. It should be, she said, smaller than a piece of cake, though still retaining cake-like characteristics and easily eaten from boxed lunches. These first brownies featured an apricot glaze and walnuts, and they are still being made at the hotel according to the original recipe.

The first person to put a recipe for “brownies” in a cookbook was Fanny Farmer, who adapted her cookie recipe to be baked in a rectangular pan, in the 1896 edition of The Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. But that recipe contained no chocolate! Farmer had basically made what we today call a Blondie.

There is a wide variety of brownie flavors available to bake and enjoy. To celebrate Brownie Day I decided to make a flavor I had never tried before. I settled on Cheesecake Brownies. These were not made from scratch but from a mix. Easy to do and I decorated my kitchen and listened to Christmas music while the brownies baked.

The brownies were delicious, light in texture, not too fudgy yet with a nice chocolate flavor. The cheesecake topping added a tasty contrast to the chocolate. I shared the brownies with my mom and sister after making an unexpected trip with Linda to the ER. This is a first for her, and we are waiting on results from a MRI and CAT scan to see what’s going on with her leg. Perhaps I’ll offer brownies to the medical staff while we are waiting!

IMG_3743.JPG

Day 341: Treasures Discovered…at the Perfect Time

treasures found

I absolutely love when unexpected things happen that remind me that the thoughts and desires that I send out are energy. And they will find their way back to me,  manifesting in their own time. I am delighted and amazed also when an image pops into my head, another form of thought, and shortly after that, the image becomes reality. For my first today, I acquired two items. One I have been searching for since early April. The other just came into my awareness last night.

This afternoon, I traveled to Arkansas with Greg to visit his dad. I dearly love this kind, gentle man. At 93 he still cares for himself and has a sense of humor, although by his own confession, his energy levels are low and at a soul level, he is even more weary. It is always a pleasure to visit with him and help him in small ways, which are all he will allow.

After lunch, we stopped at the grocery store to restock essentials for him, and Greg picked up a couple of packages of bite sized candy bars for his dad to snack on. Dad Moore doesn’t eat a lot, but he still has a sweet tooth and enjoys an occasional treat. Back home, while Greg and his dad were looking at old photos and reminiscing, I rummaged through cupboards, looking for a little candy dish to put the chocolates in. I saw the corner of a small plastic bag sticking up and curious, pulled it free of the dainty bowl it was tucked into.

I know I made some kind of sound of surprise! Something akin to “Oh my goodness!” Within the sealed plastic bag were three wooden teaspoons, from Taiwan. Ever since I visited Teavana, the loose tea store in Springfield, back on April 2, I have been searching for wooden teaspoons. I have my loose tea that I purchased in clear mason jars. I measure out the tea by the teaspoon, and I’ve wanted tiny wooden spoons just because they look so much more earthy than having a plastic teaspoon stuck in the jar, as I do now. I’ve looked in several retail stores in Joplin, without success. I eventually decided I’d find them someday, at the perfect time. Which….happened to be today! Those spoons have been in that cupboard for at least 15 years, since Greg’s mom passed 15 years ago next month and Greg’s dad has left every item in its place, unchanged. I’ve never seen these spoons before and have no idea when Mimi received them or what the story is behind them. I only know she had the spoons tucked away, and now I have them. Dad Moore, generous man that he is, told me I could have them. I am thrilled.

treasures wooden teaspoons

After a wonderful afternoon of visiting with Dad Moore, and running some errands, we prepared to leave. Greg paused in the kitchen to get some info from his dad, and asked me to turn on the overhead light. As I flipped the light on, my attention was caught by an item hanging on the wall, directly above the light switch. I know my head tilted to the side, like a dog who is trying to understand the words being spoken to her. Last night, as I was decorating my house for Christmas, I created a small coffee table vignette, for the first time, I might add. I liked the simplicity of it and the way it looked. And yet….it needed something. It needed a wooden tray beneath the grouping. As I headed to Arkansas today, I was thinking about that wooden tray. I have one in my bedroom, on my bed, holding a book, a teacup and my great-grandmother’s hankie. I could use that one, I mused…but in my mind, I saw a lighter colored tray with shorter sides. Perhaps a bamboo one? The image I had was very clear.

Now, standing in the kitchen, while Greg and his dad discussed eye doctors and appointments, I was stunned to see the very wooden tray that had popped into my mind, hanging on the wall. I had literally walked by it five or six times this afternoon, without seeing it. The light illuminated it for me. It could be that the image of that particular tray surfaced in my mind because subconsciously, I have seen it there in the kitchen many times without registering it. I don’t know. I don’t care. The tray I had been thinking about, since last night, was right there before me. I removed it from the wall and turned around with it in my hands, perhaps with my head still tilted to the side. Again, Greg’s dad graciously gifted me with it, with a smile and a wave of his hand.

These items now have a place of honor in my home. I will enjoy the tray and the spoons, and I’ll smile every time I scoop out tea or arrange a vignette or serve tea on the tray. Even better, I cannot look at those simple reminders of the wonders and mysteries of the universe without giving thanks and expressing joy.

treasures wooden tray

treasures wooden tray 2

Day 340: This is Studio Bliss

studio bliss exterior

I had heard of this place in Carl Junction, MO, located at 405 E Pennell Street. I also knew that the shop was only open on the first Friday and Saturday of each month and that workshops were held there frequently. With the name containing the word “Bliss”, I was intrigued and looked forward to visiting. Today, after I completed a showing on a property north of Carl Junction, it worked out perfectly to stop by as Studio Bliss was having an Open House.

studio bliss interior 4

What a beautiful, delightful place! I stopped just inside the door of the studio, which is located in an older house. There were so many wonderful items to look at. As I was gazing around, taking it all in, the owner introduced herself and I had the opportunity to chat with her and learn about her business. And the first thing I learned is that the Bliss in the company name comes from owner, Laurie Bliss. Laurie, a joyful, energetic lady, has been creating and selling her goods for more than 25 years. She had a business in Utah, Tattered Treasures, before marrying Mr. Bliss (I love that!) and eventually settling in Missouri. When she opened her studio in Carl Junction, she realized she had the perfect last name to use in naming her new venture.

studio bliss interior 1

The shop has a large variety of hand-made, unique and vintage items. According to the This is Studio Bliss website, the goal has always been to create with things that can’t be duplicated or purchased anywhere else. The workshops offered at the studio are for small groups of 6-8, and they are perfect for girls’ nights out, bridal showers, and birthday parties. Projects are offered for all skill levels and participants are encouraged to bring items with sentimental value to include in the creation of their projects (note: the studio provides all that is needed to create the projects…crafters may bring bits and pieces that have special meaning, from home, if they so desire). Create a little bliss is the perfect tagline for these fun gatherings. Check out the website, at the link below, to see the upcoming schedule for workshops…and sign up!

studio bliss pocket watch pendant

Pocket Watch Pendant can be made in an upcoming workshop

With Laurie’s permission, I wandered around the shop and took pictures. In every room and every nook, on shelves and in beautifully arranged displays using clever containers, hand crafted items drew my eyes and made me smile. This is a lovely place for unique gifts and home décor for the vintage lover and those who appreciate lovingly crafted items. The very atmosphere in the studio sparks creativity and brings joy. I loved the sign in one room that declares: A creation and celebration type place. That sums up This is Studio Bliss well!

studio bliss interior 5 studio bliss interior 3

Today, I picked up a lavender filled sachet with the words, This is Bliss stamped on it. And I purchased small paper doilies to use with Christmas gift packages. I look forward to being a frequent visitor on the weekends the shop is open. And I anticipate attending my first workshop. I’m especially excited about creating a pocket watch pendant, using some items from home. Bliss is, indeed, found here…..and so much more!

studio bliss sign

Visit This is Studio Bliss Website Here

 

Day 339: Super Easy Fudge

 

Finished product

I like an occasional piece of fudge, however, I have never been good at making the delicious confection. The boil it with a candy thermometer method creates a great tasting chocolate sauce for me….because the fudge doesn’t set up correctly. I know the trick is in stirring….and stirring….and stirring some more. I haven’t got that knack.

So when I spotted this recipe on Facebook, I was interested. Using only 5 ingredients and the microwave, the prep time was listed as 5 minutes. After a busy day, making the fudge was the perfect first this evening. And while it set up in the fridge for a couple of hours, I could do more Christmas decorating.

I’ve included a how-to video below. Here is the simple recipe for a smooth, chocolaty fudge:

3 Cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

1  14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

4 teaspoons butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

Prepare a 8×8 glass dish by lining with aluminum foil and spraying surface with nonstick spray.

easy fudge
Step 1

In a microwave proof bowl add the chocolate chips and the butter, cut into cubes. Pour the sweetened condensed milk over the first two ingredients and pop into the microwave. Heat for 1 minute. Remove from microwave and stir, allowing the warmth of the bowl to continue to melt the chocolate chips and butter. If necessary, return bowl to microwave and heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring well after heating, until chips and butter are melted and fudge is smooth and creamy. Add vanilla and salt. Stir well. Push fudge into 8×8 dish and smooth with spatula or wooden spoon. Place in refrigerator to chill for at least two hours. When fudge is set, remove from dish, turning fudge upside down so that foil is up. Peel foil from fudge and slice with large sharp knife. Cut slices into pieces. Best served at room temperature.

Step 2
Step 2

Following the recipe, the prep time only took me 5 minutes, as promised. I warmed the chips and butter mixture for a minute, stirred well, heated another 30 seconds, stirred well and then heated it one more time for 30 seconds, added the vanilla and salt and stirred until well mixed and creamy. The fudge set up in two hours. I tried a piece and it is delicious! It isn’t too sweet and has a creamy, smooth texture. It’s not quite as good as the old fashion type made at Richardson’s Candy House or by Greg’s dad. But it’s good!

Step 3
Step 3

My favorite part, other than the rich taste and velvety texture, was the short amount of time involved in making perfectly set fudge. It will be a wonderful treat over the holidays and a great little gift to give to others. The recipe is adaptable. By switching the chocolate chips for  2 ½ cups of white chocolate chips and ½ cup of creamy peanut butter, it would become an easy to make peanut butter fudge. I’ll have fun trying some substitutions and sharing the results!

 

Day 338: Microsoft Excel Spreadsheet

spreadsheet

This first might sound silly to most. I’ve been an independent contractor, otherwise known as a realtor, for 12 years. I do all kinds of techie stuff. I have a home office with files and cubbies and a white board. My smart phone is never far from my grasp. Siri transforms my dictation into texts and emails while I drive and I use multiple apps. And yet, I’ve never done a spreadsheet. Even though this is a relatively low tech tool, I’ve had a mental block about doing one, even though I do all kinds of other tasks on my laptop.

When I’ve needed a spreadsheet, I’d have someone else do one for me. In the past, Greg has been great about trying to explain the mechanics to me. I’d just have him create one instead of taking the time to learn, and think….maybe next time. I needed to create a new spreadsheet today. For the first time, rather than pass that task off, I gathered my resolve and my papers, and learned how.

Spreadsheets are a really great way to organize, analyze and store data. I have an appreciation for them. The cells and rows and columns and making them work out the way I wanted to just seemed overwhelming. There has been a thought I have believed about myself….that I need to be able to do something well, the first time I attempt it. I know I placed a high expectation on myself with that belief. Also, I don’t have a lot of patience with machines and mechanical things if they don’t work the way I want them to. Computers can be my greatest helper…or my greatest frustration. I’m learning to let go of those limiting thoughts, and enjoy the journey, not rush to be finished.

After a few minutes of instruction, I settled in to take my time and transfer data into those blank columns. And you know what? I did it. I took piles of papers with lots of information and turned them into a neat and organized spreadsheet that is now saved on my computer. The process went so well that I created a second spreadsheet and have thoughts of going for a third! I wondered why I’ve waited so long to learn about excel. I’m glad for this year of new experiences which pushes me just a bit, and sometimes quite a lot, to keep learning, keep going beyond what I’m comfortable doing. I’m so pleased with my spreadsheets, I’m giving myself a gold star!

spreadsheet gold star great job

Day 337: Sharing Blogs

Blogging

In spite of the fact that I’ve written daily in my Going Beyond blog, since January 1 of this year, it has taken me a while to recognize that I am, in fact, a blogger. Surprisingly, it’s just been in the last month or so that I’ve understood that I don’t just journal, or write, I blog. I share my journey with others in a public way through my site. I know, that should be a given. But when I started this adventure, I began the blog so that I would have an account of my firsts, a roadmap that showed where I started and where I finished up. It was a personal accounting, and a way of remembering, because I knew at the end of the year, there would be no way that I’d be able to remember what I did as firsts last month, much less in January!

It has been a surprise, and a delight, to develop a following and find out that others read and enjoy the blog. I smile when I walk into a business and the owner says, “Oh, I hope this is your first today!” Or when someone walks up to me while I’m out and mentions a blog post that she or he read. It is humbling and encouraging, to know I can impact another’s life. Blogging has become a very important part of my life and I’ve found that the blogging community is full of supportive, creative people. My desire, for my first today, is to share just a few of the blogs that I visit regularly, in support of blogging and these amazing writers and tip sharers.

The Hometalk Blog: Full of DIY projects and tips, this blog was created to share trends, news and updates from a team of contributors. I can find holiday crafts, gardening tips and repurposing projects here. There is also the occasional give away. If you enjoy Do It Yourself projects, this site will keep you supplied with endless possibilities and easy to follow instructions.

blogging hometalk

The Inspired Room: This beautifully done blog by Melissa Michaels focuses on creating a lovely, livable home. She shares simple, very doable ideas to decorate, organize and love the home you have. Here you can learn how to simplify house cleaning and make no-sew curtains, decorate with what you have, and prepare for house guests. Melissa includes home and room tours to really show the reader her results and lovely pictures from her home and a variety of other sources.

blogging the inspired room 2

Elizabeth Gilbert: Author of EAT, PRAY, LOVE and The Signature of All Things, among other books, this down to earth soul shares from her heart about her own journey and the lessons she’s learning. I have really connected with Liz’s writing lately and every post I read of hers uplifts and encourages me. I appreciate her honestly in sharing both her struggles and her triumphs. Her ahas and insights are always right on target for me.

blogging elizabeth gilbert

Lu Ann Cahn Blog: The woman who inspired me to create my own year of firsts, Lu Ann traveled this path in 2010 as a way to get “unstuck” in her life. Out of her blog came the book that I found last year, “I Dare Me”, which both chronicles her year of firsts and offers suggestions on firsts that the reader can do. Lu Ann continues to dare herself to experience new things. She would say, and I agree, that life opens up and becomes so much more rich and amazing as a result of doing first things.

blogging lu ann cahn

When I blog, I am giving others a peek into my life and often, into my heart as well. Last year, I attended a One Thing Conference, taught by the owner of Keller Williams, Gary Keller. When he challenged each of us to choose one thing that we wanted to do, and create a new habit by doing that one thing every day for 66 days, I wrote down writing. I wanted to develop the habit of writing. I confess that I failed at writing every day, for 66 days, last year. My intention went out, however, and came back to me late in the year when I allowed myself to be drawn to having a year of first experiences and blogging about it every day. I haven’t just written for 66 days. I have written for 337 days. It has become more than a habit. It has become a way of life for me, one that I am enjoying immensely. I love how that intention flowed back to me as an opportunity….and an invitation. I am so grateful that I accepted it.