LOVE & making it better

Love-Heart-Hands-851x315With Valentines around the corner I thought I would pass along some useful information that may help the relationship in your life. This past week my husband and I took a couple days to reconnect and spend some time together. My husband has been at a high-level stress with his work & our connection was a bit distant. We decided to take a couple days to get away. So, I invested in a relationship game, The Gottman Couples Retreat Board game, that I thought may be good to help us talk, connect, get out of the stresses of our daily life. It was a fun evening of writing little love notes to each other, playing the game, asking questions and stepping away from the day to day routine.

In the game there are a variety of cards, so I am going to  create this post to accompany some of the ideas [ie: Got Facts—I am going to create some facts I collect.  Ask open ended questions–I am going to create a questions list, etc] I am not going to take them from the game because that would take away from the game & you may want to buy it and invest in your own relationship. So, these ideas below are NOT from the game. Just the topics are. So here you go…

 

love-mapBUILD LOVE MAPS: LOVE Map: The principle of The Gottman Institute’s building Love Maps is simply this: knowing the little things about your partner’s life creates a strong foundation for your friendship and intimacy.  How to do this–Ask Open Ended QUESTIONS:  Here are some to get you started…What is your favorite memory of me?  What is your favorite thing that I do for you?  What movie reminds you of us?   What do you think we need to work on the most in our relationship?   Do you believe I love you?   What is your favorite thing I ever did for a special occasion for you?   When we are with family, do I make you feel important?   What’s another career that you think you would love?   What is a favorite memory with your Mom and Dad?  Biggest dream location you would like to visit?   What’s the happiest you have ever felt?   Did you ever talk to your parents?   What’s the accomplishment you are most proud of?   Where do you want to be living in 10 years?   Which of your friends would you choose if you had to be on a desert island with just one?   Which would you like most: a summer home, a year-long vacation or a boat?   What would you do with an extra $1000 to spend only on yourself?   If you could see into the future, what would you want to know?   What’s your greatest talent?   What is your most unique trait?   What is the best thing about our relationship?   Are you an optimist, a pessimist or a realist?   If you had to change one thing about yourself, what would you pick?   How did your siblings shape who you are?   What was your favorite date night we ever had?                [taken from Lifehack]

 

ASLQuote2OPPORTUNITY:   Take opportunities to CONNECT–Go on a walk together & see if you can hold hands the entire time.   TOUCH: kiss, high-five, hug, hold hands, tickle…touch & try to for a least 30 seconds.   TALK: avoid the usual, “how was your day” and ask thought provoking questions. Sharing this little chat every night really can improve your relationship, says psychologist Angela Hicks, PhD, of Westminster University. She’s found that couples who discuss recent positive events with each other feel happier the next day, with increased feelings of intimacy and connection to their partners. [prevention]  GET GRATEFUL: Let them know how much you appreciate them. Share the little and big things you appreciate and love about them.   CREATE new memories together: no one wants the same old day in and out routine. Avoid boredom and try new things together.  Stony Brook University social psychologist Arthur Aron, PhD. According to his research, novelty is the spice of life—and a key ingredient of a good marriage. You don’t have to give up your favorite couple-time activities, but do make an effort to inject some new plans into the mix: a hike, a cooking class, or even amusement park rides qualify. Just pick something you’ve never done before (or recently) together. Rewarding experiences flood your brain with dopamine, a mood-boosting chemical. “If your partner is present, that feeling becomes linked to him,” says Aron.[prevention] LAUGH: find things that make you laugh together, whether it is a favorite comedy show, a good joke, fun memories, share in the laughter. Appalachian State University study, experts asked 52 couples to reminisce about fun times they had experienced both alone and together; those who liked to recall shared laughs were most satisfied with their relationships. “When people laugh at the same thing, they validate each other’s opinions,” says lead author Doris Bazzini, PhD. [prevention]  EXPRESS: do little things to show and express you care. Leave a little note on the mirror that says, I love you. Leave a warm robe or towel for them when they get out of the shower. Buy their favorite drink & write a note on the lid & leave it in the fridge.   CELEBRATEDo you smile when your partner comes home with a pat on the back from his boss or nudges his golf handicap down a point or two? Good, say UCLA psychologists, because the way you receive your significant other’s exciting news may be even more important than how you react during a crisis. In a study of 79 couples, partners who shared excitement for each other’s achievements (“Your hard work is paying off” versus “Can you handle that responsibility?” in response to a promotion, for example) had the most satisfying relationships. Interestingly, how a partner reacted to tough times wasn’t as closely tied to satisfaction. A celebration provides the opportunity to boost his ego and reinforce your status as a team, say the authors, so break out those champagne flutes and start saluting yourselves more often. [prevention]

 

bda9e7e4cca24999a43f876e319ca111GOT FACTS: Look at your relationship in a more objective manner. Stop playing the “blame game.” That is not helping anyone.

Learn how to COMMUNICATE. Learn how to listen. Men get the bad rap for never listening, but admit it: You can probably use a bit of a refresher course too. In fact, Harvard researchers say that couples who express the most empathy and affection are most likely to stay together for the long haul. To become a better listener, try these tips from marriage counselor Harville Hendrix, PhD:

  • Be a mirror. When your partner expresses his or her feelings, show that you’re listening by paraphrasing. Start with “Let me see if I’ve got that: You feel…”
  • Resist the urge to interrupt. “Instead of ‘Are you through now?’ try ‘Is there more to that?’ ” says Hendrix. “This shows your partner that he or she can feel open and safe with you.” Of course, saying it calmly helps too.
  • Validate his POV. Finish with “I can imagine that because of [fill in the situation], you feel [angry, sad, guilty, etc.].”     [prevention]

RESOLVE a disput: Resolving a marital dispute without damaging your relationship may boil down to a single choice of words. When researchers recently studied disagreements among 154 couples (all married 15 or more years), they found that pairs who used plural pronouns—such as we, us, and our—during an argument were more likely to express positive feelings and report less mental stress afterward. Conversely, those who preferred using “I” during a spat were more likely to have negative emotions and report marital dissatisfaction. “Using ‘we language’ during a disagreement may help couples align themselves on the same team, as opposed to being adversaries,” says lead investigator Benjamin Seider. [prevention]

WORK IT OUT: Working out with your husband kills two big birds with one healthy stone: You’ll likely get fitter, which benefits your sex life too. One study found that 94% of couples stuck to a fitness program when they did it together, which makes perfect sense. You can keep each other motivated, and it’s exciting to explore new fitness activities, like biking or hiking, together. (Here are 7 ways your partner can help you lose weight.) Other research shows that women enjoy sex more when they’re physically active—workouts relieve stress, boost energy, and give body confidence a lift, all great for your libido. [prevention]

REKINDLE the ROMANCE: Last—but most certainly not least—staying intimate and romantically connected is one of the surest things you can do for a happy lasting marriage. But about one-third of couples in American suffer from low sex drive or desire, and getting things back on track isn’t always as simple as splurging on a new negligee or booking a bed-and-breakfast getaway. Here is a link to 13 ways for seriously  better sex http://www.prevention.com/sex/better-sex/tips-better-sex          Here is a link 14 days to rekindle your relationship by Laura Berman http://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health-pictures/days-to-rekindle-your-relationship.aspx#02

 

 

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50 “Quick Connects” from the Alabama Community Healthy Marriage Initiative—

  1. Make sure your kisses last at least six seconds. Every now and then go for a full minute.
  2. Feed each other grapes.
  3. Stick a love note in a lunch box, purse or pocket.
  4. Send funny and/or romantic cards by snail mail or e-mail.
  5. Learn how to give a great foot massage.
  6. Wash each other’s hair.
  7. Set your alarm for five minutes earlier than usual to cuddle.
  8. Smile at each other.
  9. Get silly with each other and laugh out loud together.
  10. Grab your partner for a spontaneous dance when a favorite song comes on the radio or stereo.
  11. Make eye contact when you talk.
  12. Hold hands.
  13. Leave a wonderful voice mail message on their phone.
  14. Text a love note.
  15. Send a love e-mail every day.
  16. Leave little love notes in unexpected places.
  17. Send a funny photo on your phone.
  18. Ask about each others’ days.
  19. Listen with 100% attention.
  20. Give a one-minute shoulder massage.
  21. Do something unexpected for your spouse.
  22. Snuggle on the couch.
  23. Touch each other with affection.
  24. Notice and comment about something your spouse does that you like.
  25. Say thank you.
  26. Say you’re welcome.
  27. Be interested in what your spouse is doing.
  28. Tell a joke.
  29. Leave a flower.
  30. Offer to help.
  31. Write a poem.
  32. Read a poem to your spouse.
  33. Cook a romantic dinner.
  34. Offer to cook dinner if you aren’t the one who usually cooks.
  35. Burn a CD with favorite songs, or love songs.
  36. Post photos on the refrigerator or bathroom mirror that remind you of wonderful times you’ve shared.
  37. Bring home great take out for just the two of you.
  38. Say “I love you” in a different way every day.
  39. Slow dance to a love song.
  40. Write a love note on the bathroom mirror. PG rated if you have kids!
  41. Offer to take the kids out of the house for awhile and give the other parent some alone time.
  42. Dip a strawberry into whipped cream and feed to your partner.
  43. At night, step outside together for five minutes and look at the stars.
  44. Sing to each other.
  45. Make a care package with his/her favorite snacks and leave it in the car.
  46. Establish a weekly ritual that you faithfully observe. For example, watching a favorite television program, taking a walk after dinner, putting candles on the table.
  47. Give your spouse a little token to wear as a reminder of your love. (Try for creative rather than expensive.)
  48. Kiss your spouse on the back of the neck.
  49. Flirt with each other.
  50. Watch a sunrise or sunset together.
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365 NEW things to learn

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Martha Beck’s Plan for Finding JOY

I don’t know about you, but JOY is always a good thing. Here is Martha’s plan for finding  a little more JOY:

  1. Have a vision. Begin basing choices on what makes you feel freer and happier, rather than how you think an ideal life should look. [Create a vision board]
  2. Let go of what doesn’t work. Consider those things you’d like to release from your life–bad habits, toxic friends..think and repeat. Let go.
  3. Don’t be afraid to fail. People who worry about mistakes become paralyzed by that worry, but those who are relaxed about doing badly soon learn to do well. Success is built on failure.
  4. Pay attention to what really matters to you. Life makes things taxing when they are not important and delicious and relatively effortless when they are. Life feels good when it thrills you and bad when it doesn’t.         -taken from O Jan 2014

 

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PLAY something!!

A study of St. Andrews suggests that the more often subjects practiced playing a musical instrument, the more efficiently their brains processed info on nonmusical tasks.    -taken from O Jan 2014

 

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“Love After Love” by Derek Walcott

The time will come when, with elation you will greet yourself arriving at your own door, in your own mirror and each smile at the other’s welcome, and say, sit here, eat.

You will love again the stranger who was your self. Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart to itself, to the stranger who has loved you all your life, whom you ignored for another, who knows you by your heart.

Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, the photographs, the desperate notes, peel your own image from the mirror. Sit. Feast on your life.

 

searching-for-lightLove this thought from Oprah

I stayed open to believing that no matter how hard the climb, there is always a way to let in a sliver of light to illuminate the path forward.

 

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Andy Andrews thoughts on raising kids

Most people say, “Just trying to raise good kids.” BUT you need to think, “We are trying to raise good kids to be great adults.”

 

sunglasses-for-women1Something good for your EYES

BLINK: Researchers have discovered as screen time has increased, the level of a lubricating substance found in tears has decreased. Studies have shown that we normally blink 15-20 times per minute, but when using digital devices, that rate can be cut in half. Take a break and just blink.

EXERCISE: Research suggests that exercise may help prevent glaucoma. A study of more than 5,600 adults found those who exercised regularly (more than an hour a day) were 25 percent less likely to have low blood flow to their eyes. Circulation issues are thought to be the cause of glaucoma.

GRAB YOUR SHADES: to protect your eyes from possible UV damage. -O Oct 2015

 

Free-HugsLASTLY–Something to make you think

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”  -Maya Angelou

 

Peace and Happiness to you.  -H        Look for my next 365 post.

Lessons learned from the movie JOY

JOY is a movie about hope, dreams, creating, and finding oneself. Joy is a great movie that is based on the true story of Joy Mangano, a self-made millionaire who created her own business empire.

I would highly recommend you see it if you haven’t yet. Enjoy these life lessons that I took from the movie.

tumblr_inline_nzyfonSbdB1qb6g44_540Always DREAM: Joy: What happened to us? What happened to all the things that we used to dream about for our lives? I just feel like it’s getting further and further away.     You can see and feel Joy wondering what happened to the little girl who always would create and tell beautiful stories. She was worried that she was loosing that part of herself.      I think we all have moments like this, where we wonder what happened to our dreams, how we lost track of time and how we were going to get back on the path to following our dreams. They are just baby steps away. You can take one little step each day to learn something new, to talk to someone who is living your dream, to begin preparing to leave your job, to take small steps in the directions of your dreams. [Old or New dreams]. Just begin.

 

01-jennifer-lawrence-as-joyJust Do It! Create: Joy: In America everyday people make of what they will of themselves. I’m going to do something.     This makes me want to share tiny stories about big companies that started small. Melissa & Doug toys began with one toy 25 years ago & they sold it out of their station wagon. Nike also began out of the trunk of Phil Knight’s Plymouth Valiant. Amazon, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Disney, Mattel–all began in garages.     We are all creators. It is just a matter of finding what inspires, motivates and lights you up.

 

joy-movie-reviewDon’t let the Naysayers in:  Mimi: [to Joy] You don’t exactly have your whole life ahead of you, but you still have a good portion of it. Peggy: Joy has never run a business. Rudy: It’s a big mistake. It’s my fault. I gave her the confidence to think she was more than an unemployed housewife. Peggy: It’s a fantasy!          Joy had to push beyond her limiting family and the beliefs they had. Joy was determined to rise above.       We each have people like that in our own lives. People who may belittle our dreams, who may naysay our ideas. Rise above it and begin to believe in the possibilities.  Remember: there is a positive and negative energy in everything. Do not surround yourself with those that are heavy, who can’t see the vision, who do not lift you and your ideas up. They will weigh you down in the end.

 

2A8E895500000578-3162558-image-m-40_1436976178504Believe in Yourself! If you don’t, who will?  Joy: I have real ambitions and real ideas.    Tony: What if they don’t see you?  Joy: They’re gonna see me no matter what.      Joy had quite a few obstacles that she had to handle and in the end it was her pure determination that got her through.         Each one of us will have walls that we hit within our lives and we have to figure out how to hurdle over them. Whether they are personal insecurities, having to learn something new for a job, changing jobs, creating a space to pursue a dream or just pushing forward when life gets tough. If you don’t believe you can–find a way. If you can find pure will, there will be a way. Believe.

 

Joy

Use any motivation possible to propel yourself forward: Even if it is your negative family. Joy:  I don’t want to end up like my family. I have to do things myself, once and for all.          It is safe to say that Joy was stuck in many ways. She was feeling like her back was up against a wall and all she could do was go for it. She found determination in that.

 

joy-101Bradley-JL-RudysCC_rgb.0Trust those people who have your back: In the end, Joy was betrayed by many she loved, but she also learned who would always have her back.          We have people who come and go within our lives, but hold tight to those who will be loyal no matter what. They are the true gems that will be worth the most in your life.

 

landscape-1436967071-screen-shot-2015-07-15-at-92838-amBe yourself! Even if it scares you. [backstage at QVC Joy is dolled up and given a poofy black early ‘90s style dress]
Neil Walker: Wow. Beautiful. What do you think? How do you feel?
Joy: I’d like to change just one thing, do you mind?
Neil Walker: Okay, surprise me.
Joy: Small thing. I’ll surprise you.
Neil Walker: Okay, surprise me.
[she goes back into the dressing room and closes the door, Neil paces impatiently]
Neil Walker: I wonder what the small thing is that she changes.
[Joy comes out of the dressing room wearing her hair down and she’s wearing a shirt and trousers]
Neil Walker: What? You undid the whole thing.
Joy: This is me.
Neil Walker: This is you? You’ve got the exact same outfit you had when you came in here.
Joy: I wear a blouse and I wear pants. That’s who I am. I want to go on as me.

Joy believed in herself and her product. She was determined to do it her way and did just that. She broke through the fear and found her wings.

 

landscape-1451924720-joy-movieThe Real JOY

 

DREAM

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January is definitely the month for inspiration, goal setting, reinvention, direction, and no doubt about it…DREAMING.

I think with the New Year comes hidden desires, secrets yearning to break free, new possibilities and a part of you that wants you to wake up and break the bonds of the ordinary.

Here is to DREAMS! I have searched for some good tips and tricks to help you make your wishes come true. Take this to heart & go!

tumblr_m6nallo9Mp1r04xyvo1_500_largeAccording to INC.com [article by Peter Economy]

1. Give yourself permission to dream: The only one stopping you from achieving your biggest dreams is you. The secret to accomplishing your biggest dreams is to give yourself permission to dream, to imagine and fantasize about your personal and professional goals–and the lifestyle you would like to have in the future. Think about the places that you would like to travel to and the kind of job that you would like to have. The most successful people start with a dream in mind–a dream of something fascinating and wonderful. You can rest assured that if you can dream it, you can do it.

2. Visualize yourself accomplishing your biggest dreams: It is essential to visualize your biggest dreams because this practice will lead you to create a clear mental picture of what you want to accomplish in life, which helps you set your personal and professional goals.

3. Put your ideas to work:  Use your ideas to define your goals, then prioritize each goal accordingly to accomplish your dreams. Realize that dreams don’t come true overnight while you’re sleeping. It takes time, effort, and patience–and being completely awake and fully engaged. Assign realistic deadlines to your goals and be flexible with yourself.

 

follow-your-dreamsADDITIONAL TIPS

Ask Yourself some good questions: Ask yourself focused and directed questions, such as “What do I need to do to achieve my dreams?” and “What has held me back from having achieved it already?” By asking yourself the right questions, you will be able to come up with the most important answers that you need to make it come true. Be honest with yourself, and ask yourself, “What inside of me is resisting it?” You might find fear, doubt, limiting beliefs, or other mental phenomena that are keeping you stuck. Spend the time discovering what your resistance is, and write it down in your journal. Some say, “Nothing worth having comes easily,” so you’ll have to do the work to find out what’s blocking you. And I’d be more than happy to help you get there, so get in touch with me now.
Read more at http://www.pickthebrain.com/blog/5-tips-to-make-your-dreams-come-true/#TW68q8klEeIsXsSS.99 

Choose a dream. It sounds obvious but many people struggle with this. It is tempting to pick the perfect dream and this need for perfection can paralyze you.What you want to remember is that this is not a one time deal. You’ll have many dreams and there is no reason why you can’t fulfill most if not all of them. My advice to you is to just choose one and make that decision now.

Commit to your dream. The only way to commit is by taking action towards your dream every day. So what action do you take? I don’t know but there is someone out there who does. Whatever dream you may have, chances are there is someone out there who has already done it. Your next step after choosing a dream is to find those people who have already done what you want to do and ask them how they do it. Once you’ve learned how to make dreams come true, use that information to create your step-by-step plan. Start with your monthly milestones then your weekly deliverables and then finally breaking those down into your daily tasks. Go. Do. Take the necessary actions.    [taken from life hack.org]

“AND, WHEN YOU WANT SOMETHING, ALL THE UNIVERSE CONSPIRES IN HELPING YOU ACHIEVE IT.”  -Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

Develop a ‘God Consciousness’ TRUST, really trust God, the Spirit of the Universe for the successful outcome to your endeavours. It WILL happen, though not in your time-frame and according exactly to your expectations. But always remember, God’s dreams are far bigger than we could ever imagine ourselves. [internetworldstats.com] 

I really like this tip because it rings very true for me & reminded me of a great video I received from my sister yesterday. It is a great story that exemplifies this beautifully. Enjoy. You may recognize her—Jo from the show Fixer Upper. Great story.  Check it out  https://vimeo.com/125510141?ref=fb-share

Believe it is already true. Believe the best is yet to come. 

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Best to you today! May you follow your DREAMS always.  -H

 

 

365 days of learning something NEW

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Challenge your path to growth. Try something NEW. It’s a great way to learn new things, to shift energy and empower yourself!

“Something is going to come out of this. Something New. This can end you up in a whole new place–a better place, a much more open place.”                                   -Pema Chodron

With the New Year I thought it would be fulfilling to begin by learning or trying something, anything NEW each day. Each week I am going to post my findings, so then you can learn new things along with me. Feel free to post NEW things you have enjoyed learning too! It should be fun!!

Here we go! I am going to be adding more and more, so I am not going to date them because there will be lots to learn. Look for my posts marked 365 for additional things to learn.

bEEbFCHFUN FACT: In chatting with my sister-in-law I learned there is a jellyfish called, “The Immortal Jellyfish” that when it gets scared, its defense mechanism literally reverts and transforms it back into its infant state. It can become “immortal” if the cycle happens over and over again.

 

960018_417139271726610_324800680_nLive each day! I read a small excerpt in an Oprah magazine about a woman who had survived 9-11. She had a small, square tattooed on her wrist to remind her that “I am alive.”        What could you do to remember this precious gift of life? We are each given daily gifts of life. Live them.

 

Morning-StretchSTRETCH! “Our culture places a premium on strength and power and as a result anything that has to do with mobility or stability feels like a waste of time. But the opposite is true. Having a full range of motion actually helps you achieve better results when you perform your regular workouts. Loosening  tight and overworked muscles can improve your posture, give you more toned thighs and even make it easier to flatten your abs.” -David Reavy Founder of React Physical Therapy

Everything in your body is constantly reacting to everything else—it is called a Kinetic Chain Theory

5 Must-Do Stretches: Here is a link that has 5 stretches http://www.oprah.com/health_wellness/Reasons-To-Stretch

 

Cut down on TV Watching more than 2 hours of TV per day can increase your risk of diabetes.

 

BN-IR158_sewall_J_20150529180322PLAY Stuart Brown MD, describes PLAY as time spent without purpose. Brown believes that Play is at the core of creativity and innovation. Play is anything that makes us lose track of time and self-consciousness, creating the clearing where ideas are born. Create a PLAY list. Write down three activities you could do for hours on end.

 

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“Your real job on earth is to become more of who YOU really are. To live to the highest degree what is pure, what is honest, what is natural, what feels like the real you. Anything less is a faked life. To be authentic is the highest form of praise. You’re fulfilling your mission and purpose on earth when you honor the real you.”  -Oprah

 

That is it for today. HAPPY NEW LEARNING!! Look for more 365 posts.

Have a BeYOUtiful day!! -H