Lessons learned from Finding Joy

559333.1020.AI have been sick with a sinus infection for the past week, so I have had plenty of time to watch a few movies.

Today, I am going to post about a sweet movie called “Finding Joy.” It has some quirky, but lovable characters that for some reason or another I can relate with.

The storyline:  A self-absorbed writer, stuck in more ways than one, rediscovers himself, his offbeat family, and what it means to be happy when he meets Joy, a spirited young woman who asks him to write her obituary. -IMBD  Even though it did not have high review ratings–I am of the opinion you watch a movie and make your own judgement. There is always something to take away!!

I enjoyed the ride of up, down, dysfunction, lost characters, who in the end all help heal one another in more ways than one.

Lessons I learned:

If you are drawn to anything…move toward it: Like this movie, life has funny ways of bringing about serendipity.  I was drawn to the title of this movie & I enjoyed the outcome. In the movie Kyle sees Joy & is drawn to her for some reason. He comes up with some crazy way to meet her, but in the end…serendipity!! Follow your heart.  You can almost always find something good in so many things life has to offer. Just look between the stories & you will find the lessons, the sweets, the moments that you will always keep tucked away in your heart.

Always have a plan B in life: Poor Kyle had a published book, was working on a up and coming deadline, but didnt have a plan to cover anything, so he ended up losing his apt, car…and moving back home.

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Everyone has dysfunction in the family–its how you handle it that matters:  We all have crazy in-laws, odd brothers, dramatic sisters, kids that make us borderline nuts, but we live the stories with them, we hold their hands, we talk them off the ledge, we love them no matter what—that is one great thing about family. In the movie Kyle’s brother has a embarrassing problem that he is keeping from his wife. Kyle & his daughter find out & have to walk him through the reality of what is really going on & how to handle the situation. Unconditional love is the key in any situation.

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Romantic Rendezvous are always a good time: This movie had some very funny “Romantic Rendezvous” (dates) between Kyle & Joy. I loved the silly surprises Joy would come up with that in the end helped Kyle open up, see things differently & enjoy his time with Joy.

Great Life Perspective: In the movie Joy asks Kyle “What would you do if you knew you were going to die?? Wouldnt it just shock you out of your comfort zone and just make you feel so alive?”  Kyle replies, “I’m just trying to get through the living part right now.”    This to me is so key for all of us. We go through the hum drum of normalcy, the daily grind, the regular schedules that run our lives. I think so many of us are “trying to get through living.”  Ask yourself—what would you do differently if you knew there was a good chance you could die next week.  [You never know. Someone will]  Would you do some of the things you have saved up for “some day isle?”  Would you begin to take more time with your family? Would you be a little kinder with yourself? With others?

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What truly INSPIRES you? In the movie Kyle is truly moved by Joy & wants more of her zest for life. She literally sends him into a frenzy of writing, he is so inspired by her that he cant stop. Is there anything in your life that moves you to take action? Do you have an idea that is waiting for you to help it bloom? Is there a forgotten talent that is yearning for you to break it free? What seems to light you up? What can you do at this moment to find a tiny piece of inspiration and follow it.

Break out of your ordinary: In the movie Joy helps Kyle try and break out of his comfort zone by having him wear a clown costume to deliver goods to needy people.  Is there something you can do to step out of your ordinary…routine, wardrobe, seriousness, to do lists, schedules, etc.   Halloween is a great time to do this!! October is a great time to take a little test drive & be someone else for an evening, a date night. I was just out with my daughter the other day on a Mommy/Missy afternoon. We hit a local thrift shop looking for some Halloween costume ideas. All the employees were dressed in kitty outfits & having fun with it. When we went to the register the young man checking us out wasn’t dressed up. I said, “Why aren’t you dressed up.” He smiled, “because they want me to.”  I grinned, “What a great opportunity to be so many different characters. You could be a different person each day.” He replied, “I just got my fill of dressing up at the local Comic Con.” I laughed, “Well, then you have costumes you enjoy to wear. That’s perfect.”  He smiled and politely agreed.  Look for possible occasions to break out of your ordinary. Go out and try a new hair color, drive home a different way from work, look for a shop you have always wanted to go in and do it…there are so many small ways to break out of your ordinary. AND this Halloween don’t be lame—even though you are all grown up, have some fun, find that crazy persona of someone you would have fun being for an evening. Have fun with it!! Life is too short.

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When you tell someone your sorry make it great!! I wont give you the details, but in the movie he does a pretty great job!!

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Make your mark on the world: In the movie Joy wants to make her mark on the world so she makes Kyle break into a construction site with her & puts a little piece of herself in the concrete.  I think in every single person there is a part of us that wants to make some mark—even a small, tiny mark on the world in some way. You see it all the time in public bathrooms—“Jane was here.”  ha ha. Maybe you want to write that novel you have been dreaming up, maybe you want to be the best mother, maybe you want to produce a movie, maybe you want to create something…an organization, a charity, a business, an idea. You have dreams within you that are waiting patiently. Begin today to make some small step toward your different ideas. I believe if you are doing ANYTHING that you feel may touch even one soul in a good way—that is moving you toward making even one small difference in the world.

The gift of a Living Funeral: In the movie Kyle decides he is going to create a living funeral for Joy, so she will want to live. I thought this was a cute idea to tell those who are living how much you love and appreciate them in your life. It doesn’t have to be on any grand scale, just take the time & make it a grand occasion! Make sure you whole heartedly put your genuine feelings into a card you read them, a letter you write them, an evening designed as a gift from you to those people you love.

It was a great movie I would recommend. I didn’t give you all the details because I didn’t want to spoil the movie (I hope I didn’t), but its a cute, quirky ride of fun-loving characters that you fall in love with.

One last line that I loved…He tells Joy “You are the most terrifying happiness I have known and I don’t want it to end.”

Sweet.

Here is the trailer for the movie   

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Look Outside…of YOURSELF

Homeless-2-Ian_Spence_largeLook outside…of yourself!

We get so use to seeing what we don’t have, wanting things that other people have, sometimes pulling a tantrum because we don’t get the $45 moccasins we have to have!! After watching my daughter struggle not getting her way I jumped at the opportunity to get her out of herself and help another. We were circling a round-about & saw a man standing on the street corner playing his guitar.

I had seen him there the day before, but looked away & tried not to see him– often we look away trying to avoid the moment of judgement, the heartache, the wonder if he is honest, what he’ll do with the money, etc. We hate that part of ourselves, so it is easier to pretend it is not there.

I looked at the man playing his guitar, he was wearing a yellow t-shirt & a ratty, old straw hat. He was playing with his heart and soul. I looked at my husband & said, “let’s go by him some lunch.” My husband replied irritated, “okay, if you guys want to.”  I was a little taken back that my husband seemed put out by the request, but I knew getting out of yourself and doing something nice for someone—helps everyone!!! We grabbed him a combo at Arby’s & I knew this would be an excellent opportunity for my daughter to forget about not getting what she wanted and thinking of someone else. I looked at my little girl & handed her the bag. She lit up & jumped out of the car. She ran over to the man. His face lit up & he smiled a big, child-like smile. He was so gracious & made her feel appreciated. I jumped out of the car & ran over to catch a glimpse of this old soul, this man who played with heart. I wanted to hear his voice, to see his smile, to understand his story for even a moment. He explained how he was trying to make ends meet before the snow hits & then he has a few jobs lined up. He told us how he just loves to play & it brings him such joy. You could feel and see his passion. He looked at us & with enthusiasm said, “Would you like to hear one of my songs?”  I smiled “we would love it.” My daughter and I just watched as his hands began to finger the strings & his quiet voice shared a story of heartbreak, hookers and love lost. My husband was now getting out of our car to hear the song. When he was done he explained how all his songs are his personal stories. He said he writes about many of the young girls he meets who have been beaten, abused and broken.  I replied, “I bet you get to see your fair share out here on the street.” He humbly agreed.  He then began to strum his guitar quietly while he told us that we could see his story on Vimeo. He thanked us again & began to play. He smiled his big smile & wished us well. He began to strum and sway to the story he was about to tell.

We climbed back in our car and everything seemed better, there was a perspective of gratitude, a humility of following your heart to help someone & knowing that guidance was on purpose. I looked at my little girl,  “See, everyone has a story.”  She smiled.
We waved and honked at our new friend, “The General.”

On our way home I did find his story on vimeo & I shared it with my parents. Later that day they also saw the General & stopped to give a little bit of themselves. Spreading the love truly does have a ripple affect.

I want to share his story with you, so whenever you see someone in need you will think…EVERYONE has a story to tell. Hopefully we will listen & come out a little better for it. Love to you.

Here is the story of The General   

Understanding the Love Language for YOUR Child

love-languageI was talking to my sister the other day about one of her five little children (5 under the age of 8) she was talking about her middle child, Jami, who is four-years-old. She was expressing frustration about how strong-willed and independent he is & how hard it is to handle him. She was at her wits end trying to figure out how to keep him from just leaving the house and going to the neighbors to play, not listening & just doing whatever he wants. We began talking through ideas and solutions that will help guide his independent, little personality.

Our conclusion—each child is different, you can’t teach them the exact same way, you can’t reward or give the same incentives, you can’t compare children, each child has their own unique strengths and challenges, so as a parent, you have to figure out what is the best fit for each individual child.

So what are some tips to help lead and guide you through parenthood…

TRUST YOU GUT: You have personal guiding values that help guide and direct you as a parent. You have good and bad feelings about certain friends your child spends time with, the television shows they like to watch, the clothes they wear, the games they play, their attitude, their influences, etc. …

Let me share a story with you that illustrates following the motherly instinct—even if your child is a teenager & doesn’t think they need your guiding protection. When I was sixteen or seventeen I was working as a demo girl at a local store. I had a man approach me & suggest that I would be a great fit for a shoe model because my feet were so small. He explained the position further, gave me his card & invited me to call him to set up an interview. I was young, flattered & thought the money would be great.  That same week I called, set-up an interview & was scheduled to meet at a local parking lot (closer to my home) & then I was to follow him to the interview spot. My mom had some strong feelings & was not about to let her teenage daughter go alone. I was the typical teen, didn’t need my “mommy” to go with me, I could drive myself…My mom was not about to let me go alone. I fought her the whole way, but she did not feel good about it, so she drove me to the parking lot. It was early in the morning & the stores were not even open. No one was around.  I got out of our family van & began to walk around the parking lot, looking for the man I was suppose to meet. A plain van with no windows began to slowly leave the back of the lot & was coming toward me. My mom saw the van nearing & stepped out of our family van. THe van saw her & accelerated and left the parking lot.  I don’t know what could have happened, but I do know I did not have a good feeling about it & was glad my mom had the feelings she did. Trust your gut!!     Moms are given guidance and gifts to help protect their children in everything they do. As a mother, have faith in knowing you are here to teach, guide, love and protect your child.

DONT LISTEN TO THE CRITIC INSIDE: Sometimes as Moms it is easy to begin to question or have self-doubts on the type of mothers we are.  There may be Miss Molly next door who can do 27 types of girls hairdo’s, is president of the PTA, sings, plays the harp, is able to do a yoga handstand in her sleep & her children all look perfect every sunday in church. BUT, that is not who YOUR child needs. Your child needs the gifts and guidance that YOU can give them. Remember: You & your child will both learn from one another–you are gifts to one anothers life. Try to focus on that, see what you can learn, stretch yourself as a parent to seek the deeper needs of your children.

My daughter reminds me of different things all the time. I truly enjoy watching her say hello and hold doors open to everyone she encounters. She shines brightly & it is a constant reminder to do the same.  I am sure over the years she watched me say hello to strangers & now I just let her say hello, but it does remind me that I too need to continue to smile, say hello & strive for connection with everyone I come in contact. Thanks KAte!

DO YOUR BEST: When all else fails just remember…You are trying to do your best! Motherhood doesn’t come with a manual. Each child is different. The challenges will change, so just continue on moment by moment & remember, you are trying to do the best you can.

BE IN THE MOMENT: Slow down, snuggle, hug, talk, look into your child’s eyes and share highlights from the day, things you need to teach and talk about, lessons learned, needs that need to be met….anything. Connecting with your child in the moment is a great start. The other day I asked my daughter Kate how she thought I showed her my love…we began a small list back and forth…hugs, drawing infiniti signs in the air, blowing special kisses, handshakes, special nighttime back scratches, nick names, snuggling & watching favorite shows…can you guess what Kate’s love language is?? smile. smile.

LOVE LANGUAGES: Every child is different & they come with special LOVE LANGUAGES that help parents know what each individual child needs. Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Ross Campbell created some great tools to help parents discover their child’s love language, so here are some great links to help you a little more in guiding and directing your children.

Here is a great link to the Love Languages for Children:   http://www.5lovelanguages.com/resource/the-five-love-languages-of-children/

Link to the children’s Love Language Mystery test:   http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/children/

Well, that is all for now. I hope you have an amazing day!! Lots of LOVE to you and your children!! -Heather

Valentine ideas for those you LOVE

Purple heart in the handsSince Valentines Day is very close I wanted to make sure to create a fun list of thoughtful gift ideas to give to the ones you LOVE.  The following are some ideas I have done for my little family over the years, so I hope there will be something that will inspire you to LOVe those special people in your life.

Have a thought or theme that inspires your gift giving: One year I cut out about fifty paper stars and wrote, “For every Star in the Heavens, there is a reason I love you.”  I then wrote things I loved about my husband and hung the stars with fishing line all around our living room. I made a huge bed on our living room floor, we ate take-out, picnic style, had a warm fire, watched movies and had a wonderful evening.

Make something that is handmade or Personalized: One year I got a glass bottle and etched a message on the outside. Inside I had a special love note…Message in a bottle.  Another year I created a sheet that had things from the year my husband was born (#1 song on the charts, News Headlines, Best selling toy, candy, funny facts from the era). Make a cd of his favorite music, buy a basketball or football and have the kids sign and decorate it, etch a frame or a pair of goblets, beer or coffee mug, you get the idea. Make it personal and from the heart.

Share all the reasons you love them: Scream it! Sing it! write little notes and gift them in a jar, write them on a poster and hang it on the bedroom door. Whatever you do…Tell them you LOVE them.

Give them something special: Is there a hobby or collection they have? Mu husband had a father who collected toy cast iron cap guns, so he inherited the collection from his father. One year I found a small pistol to add to his collection. My husband also has a love of western movies (prob watching them with his father as a kid), so this year I found some fun replica coins from a brothel house (good for one night) & I am going to add sweet notes with each one & gift them in a neat jar with a good, western movie classic.

Do something sentimental: Make a Q & A journal to do together, then each evening or specific night of the week take some time, enjoy a special dinner and take the time to fill in the journal. Another idea that I have done that my husband loved—his mother’s cooking!! I took a day and went to his mother’s house and she shared all her secret family recipes, which I then put into a personalized cookbook with pictures, quotes and the special ingredients to all her yummy goodness.

Give a themed gift: What does your love enjoy doing? My husband enjoys triathlon racing, so one gift I gave him was a runners magazine, a waterproof iPod, a water bottle filled with hershey kisses, packaged in a nice workout bag with a towel. He also likes to BBQ so another gift I gave him was a nice set of BBQ utensils, a personalized apron and a grilling cookbook.  Make sure, no matter what you give, that you add some cheesy note to make them smile…something like…”Your Hot”  “You really know how to spice things up!” Have fun with it.

Make something yummy: Make a night of his/her favorite recipes, gift their favorite chocolate covered strawberries or make them a special batch of carmel pretzels. Whatever they love to eat, take the time to make it memorable.

The following are some fun gift ideas to make Valentines special for the Kiddos

Quality time: Make a Q & A journal to do with your kids. Take the time each week or each evening to talk, listen, and ask questions. This will be guaranteed quality time, with the questions leading to answers and stories that will be memorable.

Fun gift ideas:

Nail polish or lipgloss (in shades of pink and red) wrapped in a cute bag with a note that says “You shine.”

Personalized PJ’s or T-shirts: Use fabric paints, Tye dye or use iron on sparkles to make something personalized and all your own. A gift that will be appreciated.

Charm me: pick a cute charm with your child in mind, add a little necklace chain or bracelet and start a special charm collection for them. Add a little note why the charm reminded you of them. Every once in a while surprise them with a new charm that has a special meaning.

Give them something handmade: hair accessories, quilt, scarf, hat, a beaded animal, etc. Something handmade always says it is made with the heart.

Start something new: Give your child a fun apron with a special cooking lesson and coupons that include: make a cake together, make pancakes for Sat breakfast, make a spaghetti dinner for the fam… or you could give them a little garden kit with a package of seeds and a pot they can decorate.

Boo: the cutest plush dog. I am a sucker for stuffed animals, but I think this one would make any child smile. To personalize it, make a bead collar, add your child’s name or bandana. I got one of these darling dogs when my daughter was in the hospital, we took it home and beaded a collar and leash. It is adorable.  Here is the link for it on Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Gund-Boo–Worlds-Cutest-Dog/dp/B006U4SHMS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359059855&sr=8-1&keywords=Boo

One last FUN idea:  Make a fun fort out of a sheet and personalize it for your kids with iron on patches. Then the week of Valentines, put it up and surprise them. Have a fun pizza party in the fort. To make it extra special you could buy a small lantern & attach a note that says “you shine.” or “you light up my life.” Another fun detail, make a cute fleece pillow and attach a note that says “sweet dreams.”  It would be a Valentines to remember.

It’s the memories that count the most, so put some thought into the little, loving gestures you do for the ones you LOVE.  Hope these ideas help.

Good luck in spreading HAPPINESS and LOVE   -Heather

The gift of gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.    -Melody Beattie

Gratitude is a gift that helps us begin to notice the little things we take for granted every day. It gives us the opportunity to be grateful for the simple and overlooked. A warm shower becomes a blessed rain, a cozy blanket feels like a comforting hug, a smile becomes a connection. Gratitude makes us awaken to the true need we have within to be aware of all things. To begin to see beauty in the smallest of places, to listen when the winds blow, to take the time to walk with a child, to truly feel a sense of gifts found in all things. It is the mere truths that push us from being petty within our thoughts and actions. Gratitude is a reminder of what is important in our lives. It helps us overcome the trap of selfishness and moves us to the vision of what life blesses us with.

When someone sits down to write or reflect those things they are grateful for, it is impossible to dwell on the negative because the focus is on the good things within their life. Gratitude helps us unlock the little things that make a difference. Give thanks in every breath you take, every loving kiss, every memory you can make, every morning you awake. Give thanks. It truly is the little things that make life beautiful.

What five little things can you write about today?

 Gratitude makes your life better…it is a fact!! If you took the challenge of writing down five things a day you were grateful for within ten weeks you would be 25% happier. Do you believe it? Try it!According to a study done by Robert Emmons and Mike McCullough (from the University of Miami)… At the end of the 10 weeks, participants who’d kept a gratitude journal felt better about their lives as a whole and were more optimistic about the future than participants in either of the other two conditions (negative group and a neutral group). To put it into numbers, according to the scale we used to calculate well-being, they were a full 25 percent happier than the other partici- pants. The study also noted those in the gratitude condition reported fewer health complaints, exercised more, and also got a better nights sleep. -Greater Good, Pay it Forward, Robert A. Emmons