Category Archives: Self-Improvement

Start Where You Are – Setting Goals You Can Achieve

Start Where you Aree

Perfect for the start of a new year – start where you are.

Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result.

Resolution: a firm decision to do or not do something.

Some people set goals, some people set resolutions for the new year, and some people do both. For me, the connotation of “resolution” is different from goal – or at least it can be.  For me a resolution is a “New Year’s Resolution,” something set for what you want to do in the new year (or even stop doing in the new year).  A goal, on the other hand, can be a longer-range activity.  Perhaps there is no real difference or my interpretation is wrong.  At any rate, I have personally found it more helpful to set goals rather than resolutions.

To set my goals (long term and short term), I consider different areas of my life:

  • Mind
  • Body
  • Soul or Spirituality
  • Financial
  • Family
  • Social
  • Community
  • Work
  • Self-Development
  • Miscellaneous

I also consider both long-term and short-term goals.  I don’t like to look too far ahead so I might set five-year goals, three-year goals, and one-year goals.  Those can all typically be broken down into smaller goals, which will be easier to work into monthly goal lists, as well as weekly goal lists.

Once goals are broken down like that, it is easy (or easier) to see what steps can be taken daily to move closer to achieving goals.

Things to remember when setting goals:

  • Make sure you have goals that will make you stretch.  If they are all immediately do-able, you won’t feel you’ve really achieved anything once you’re done.
  • Make sure that you are fairly reasonable.  For example, if you are 40 and out of shape, the goal “Become an NFL running back” isn’t really something you can expect to accomplish.
  • Keep your goals where you can see them regularly.  It can help keep you motivated.
  • Review weekly or at least monthly to see any progress you’ve made, and also to determine where you need to refocus.
  • Reward yourself for achievements, even if it is a small reward.
  • Set goals that motivate you – if you aren’t motivated by them, you won’t work hard to achieve them or even follow through on them.
  • Have someone hold you accountable – basically, TELL someone what your goals are and have them check with you periodically.
  • Keep your goals written down.  Just the act of writing them down reinforces your goals.

 

 

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52 Ways to Make 2015 Your Best Year Ever

  1. Set goals, not resolutions – or at the very least, combine the two.  It is great to resolve to lose weight, but in order to actually accomplish that, you need GOALS.
  2. Make self-care a big part of your life.  It is important enough to SCHEDULE it.
  3. Be present.  Don’t wish away your time.  Focus on where you are, WHEN you are.
  4. Be grateful.  Look around you and appreciate what you DO have.  Say thank you to people who help you or show appreciation.
  5. Resolve personal issues as soon as you can.  Give yourself a fresh start for the new year.
  6. Is there something that you are passionate about?  Get involved!  Find your cause and take part in whatever way suits you – letter writing, taking part in a walk, etc.
  7. Keep your promises both to yourself and others.
  8. Don’t compare yourself, your life, your possessions, or anything else to others.  You will be much happier, and you don’t gain anything from the comparisons.
  9. Replace a bad habit with a good habit.
  10. Take action.  Do something today to move yourself closer to your goals.  Take another action tomorrow…and the day after that.  Make it a habit to take small steps toward your goals daily.
  11. Do 30-day challenges.  Set a challenge once a month – 30 days of gratitude, 30 days of exercise, 30 days of frugality, 30 days of self-care…and see what a difference each makes in your life.
  12. Spend time alone to focus on your goals, your dreams, and what you REALLY want.  Keep a notebook of ideas, goals, etc.
  13. Develop a theme for the new year.  I used “Soar like an eagle” for 2014 and used it to motivate me to try harder and to stretch myself.
  14. Let go of things or people that drain you.  If it isn’t helping you, it is probably hindering.  Look at the people around you – are they supportive or are they negative?
  15. If you feel overwhelmed,  take a step back, say no to new obligations, and take care of yourself.    You will feel better after a rest and be more productive.
  16. Plan date nights – with your significant other or even yourself.  Try something new and different that you both have an interest in, or something that you’ve always wanted to do.  Do this at least once a month.
  17. Simplify.  Clean out a drawer, a closet, a room once a month or so.  If you haven’t touched something in six months, ask yourself if you really need it or if you can find another if you DO need it later.
  18. Take care of the world around you as well.  Recycle.  Reuse, where possible.  Donate gently used clothing.  Use lightbulbs that are longer lasting.  Use green cleaning materials to clean your house.
  19. Get up earlier.  Even if it is just 15-20 minutes, it should give you a little time to sit and enjoy your coffee, read an article, or write in your journal.
  20. Take a walk in the rain.  It can be very invigorating, romantic, and sensual.
  21. Enjoy a three course meal.  Do this by finding three friends, or couples, and having each bring a course.  Ok, yes, you should count yourself, so either have two friends or have a four course meal…LOL.  There you go – a large, extravagant meal without you having to do ALL of the cooking!  Fancy!
  22. Be a Bookcrosser (check out Bookcrossing.com).  Register one of your favorite books with Bookcrossing, write its number in the cover, then leave it in the wild for someone to find.
  23. Celebrate your accomplishments!  When you achieve a goal, CELEBRATE!  Make a big deal.  There is nothing like positive reinforcement 😀
  24. Forgive.  Forgive those who hurt you – but remember enough not to let it happen again.  I am not saying to forget what was done to you, but forgive for your own mental and emotional health.
  25. Stop being excessively nice.  When someone hurts your feelings, say so.  Mind you, you can do so nicely, but stand up for yourself.
  26. Ignore the Joneses.  Focusing on what others have does nothing to make our lives better.  In fact, it can dull the shine on our own lives.  Appreciate what you have and ignore the Jones’;  what they have isn’t your concern.
  27. Visit one new place a month!  Expand your horizons!  Look around the area in which you live; you might be surprised at how much there is to do.
  28. Try a new cuisine.  Talk to friends and get recommendations.  Read the restaurant reviews in your local paper.
  29. Join a book club.  Talk to friends about what you are reading, and ask about things they like to read.
  30. Learn a new hobby.
  31. Develop a meditation and breathing routine.
  32. Make a list of activities that you enjoy and do one per month – or more, if money and time permit!
  33. Keep a gratitude journal.  List 5 things every day.
  34. Keep a journal – even if just a line or two whenever you feel like it.  Explore different kinds of journals – one line a day, work, travel, reading…there are a ton of ways to keep a journal.
  35. Plant something.  Work in the dirt – it is a great way to relieve stress and ground yourself.
  36. Cut back on communications.  You don’t really, REALLY need to be texting in the bathroom, the car, while in the checkout line at the grocery store.  Try checking your email once a day, not as soon as you get a notification.
  37. Purge your stuff.  Donate, throw away, clean out things that you no longer use, haven’t touched in six months or more, or can no longer use.
  38. Take a deep breathe, leave yourself more time to get to work, and drive slower.  Racing through traffic can be stressful.  Make sure you don’t need to and you may actually enjoy your day more.
  39. Cut activities that no longer serve a purpose, or that complicate your life unnecessarily.  Free that time up to use doing things you truly enjoy, or to spend with family and friends.
  40. Get your finances in order.
  41. Accept your current circumstances, limitations, strengths, and weaknesses.  Acceptance will help ease stress and anxiety and allow you to move forward and make changes to improve things where improvements need to be made.  Accept that you will be making changes to your life gradually; much like losing weight, making changes gradually will make them more likely to stick.
  42. Get out into nature.  Literally stop and smell the roses.  Look at local natural wonders – waterfalls, beaches, mountains, streams, deserts all have their beauty.
  43. Pay attention to why you back away from something that originally really excited you.  Frequently it is fear.  Facing that fear and dealing with it may help you move forward with things that will change your life.
  44. If something isn’t working in your life, don’t wait for someone to come along and fix it.  Make a change yourself.  Give up complaining – and take action.
  45. Learn a new language.  The process of learning a new language and becoming familiar with a different culture can change you and your outlook.
  46. Start a life handbook.  My concept of this is that it contains tips on self-improvement, quotes that mean something to me, life lessons, and ideas.  It could even include dreams, goals, and more.
  47. Learn something new every day – a word, a fact, how to do something.  Look for lessons everywhere.
  48. Spend quality time with loved ones and friends.  Sounds so simple, but when you are with them really focus on them.  Interestingly enough, what you give, you will get back.  If you truly pay attention to others, more than likely they will respond.
  49. Give up gossip.  It is negative and will bring you down.  Focus on the positives instead.  Your outlook will think you for it!
  50. Remember that change can be good.  It can be scary but some changes are good.  Write down positive changes and focus on those when you are worried about upcoming changes.
  51. Try yoga.   Good for mind and body!
  52. Clean your desk and room – and keep them that way.  This will help you focus and will also reduce stress; clutter is, believe it or not, a source of stress.

And that is my list of 52 steps.  I hope it helps, and I hope that you enjoyed it!  If you have additions for a future list, please feel free to comment!

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Commonplace Books – What They Are and Reasons to Keep One

Commonplace 1

What is a commonplace book?  Well, it seems that it is something that I’ve kept most of my life.  It isn’t a journal or diary or travel log; it is far different than those.  A journal or diary typically contain a daily record of events or business.  A travel log may contain details of various trips, purposes behind them and so on.  A commonplace book is very different in originally it would contain quotes, thoughts, proverbs and other “wisdom” that the keeper wanted to remember.  Some were copy books.  Others, like Carl Linnaeus’, organized something systematically; he  used commonplacing techniques to invent and arrange the nomenclature of his Systema Naturae.  Per Wikipedia, “Commonplaces were used by readers, writers, students, and scholars as an aid for remembering useful concepts or facts they had learned. Each commonplace book was unique to its creator’s particular interests.”

I tended to make my early versions into notebooks full (or mostly full) of little tidbits. My earlier notebooks were mostly quotes that I liked, books I wanted to read or that others recommended to me, the occasional movie title and description, and so on.   I have found that I keep different types or combinations of things in my commonplace books, depending on how my life is going at the moment or what is going on in my life.  When I have tough times, I tend to include humorous stories, funny cartoons, jokes, upbeat and inspirational quotes and websites that I find helpful.  I also have noticed my mood changes or shifts by the books that I note in my commonplace book.  I think commonplace books offer a different way to note and track changes in our lives.  I have also kept these at work as well, with the topics mirroring work I was doing, concerns I had, or things I needed to remember or to do.  Of course, with work documents, caution is advised; proprietary information must be protected. Always, always, always follow corporate policy with regard to company information.  (I am definitely not advocating information theft!) Someone following behind me may have found my tips and ideas helpful – or they may have just shredded them.

What can a commonplace book be used for?  Well, practically anything.  It can be a useful note-taking tool  while writing a book; you can keep research notes, books to use, character name ideas, location descriptions and more.  It can be useful in defining an idea – keeping all of the details flowing but allowing you to notate everything in one location.  It can be used to create a reference of inspirational quotes that you found useful – quotes specifically helpful to YOU, not necessarily everyone else.  It can be used to help organize your thoughts, your day, your studies. A combination of quotes and commentary on books read can be helpful as well.  The ideas for usage are limitless – well, perhaps limited only by imagination!  I am thinking of keeping one for my blogs;  I think it would be helpful to keep research notes, topic ideas, scheduling, and more all in one place.  Of course, I might also make that one section of a commonplace book.

 

Benefits of Keeping a Commonplace Book

A commonplace book may be an old idea, but definitely not outdated.  Today’s commonplace book may even look different; now, rather than writing things down, you can keep them electronically.  This allows for storage of words, images, videos, and all sorts of medias, all in one place.  Other benefits include:

  • Reinforcing learning – many people remember things better if they write things down.
  • Accumulation of information in one readily accessible location
  • Increased creativity – it can help us see patterns in various pieces of information, and help us create or discover connections.
  • Filter information – a commonplace book can help you filter the overwhelming amount of information that bombards us daily.  This is a place to record only what is significant or seems significant.
  • Organizing thoughts – basically making order out of chaos.  If you organize your thoughts in the book, you can see development and change over time; you can also see flaws in logic and so forth when you go back to previous notations

Whether you keep an electronic or a paperback version depends on what your goals are, what your preferences are, and perhaps which one is more frequently available to you.  An electronic version may allow you to include kinds of media such as videos, music, and images.  It can also be accessed from anywhere with internet access if you keep it online.  On the other hand, in a power outage, you lose access.  In addition, a paper version requires personal writing, which can aid memory.

Steps for Keeping a Commonplace Book

  1. Electronic or paper?  Choose your medium.  Weigh the benefits of both and chose the best one for your circumstances and preferences.  Blogs can be used for this, as can Pinterest and other similar sites, at least to some extent. I have also seen suggestions for Evernote, Tumnblr, and OnSwipe, among others.  Frankly, I prefer pen and paper.  For me, actually physically writing something out helps me remember things better than typing them out.  In addition, I can doodle, draw, and sketch to my heart’s delight. Others find electronic versions more appropriate or desirable.  Some of the benefits of keeping it electronically are portability, ability to combine pictures, calendars, notes, and more; in addition, electronic versions are more readily divided into sections, arranged and re-arranged.
  2. Contents?  Well, some people record quotes that they find interesting or thought-provoking.  Others use them as almost a reading journal, listing books that they want to or do read, thoughts on what they’ve read, and reactions to the reading.  Other people record recipes, notes, ideas, life lessons, heroes, song lyrics, clippings from newspapers, and important pictures. There are people who create music commonplace books,
  3. Another thing to consider is organization.  If you don’t organize your book in some way, you will struggle to find any information when you want it.  One idea is a section for list of books to read, another for quotes from the book, and interpretations and other material.    Ways to create sections depend on the medium you are using; there are tabs (permanent and sticky-note type) that you can add to blank books, you can use tabs in 3-ring notebooks, and you can break up blogs into pages or use labels/tags as well.  Organize before you start writing; trust me, it is easier this way!  I didn’t do this with my early versions and I found them difficult to work with in the end.  Some people organize their books by project.  Others use their commonplace books as devotional work, research records, or work toward a book.

Well-known People Who Kept Commonplace Books

H. P. Lovecraft

John Locke

Francis Bacon

E. M. Forster –

  • Clarissa Harlowe. Have read 1/3 of. Long books, when read, are usually overpraised, because the reader wants to convince others and himself that he has not wasted his time.”
    (E.M. Forster in 1926, excerpt from Commonplace Book, ed. by Philip Gardner. Stanford Univ. Press, 1988)

Victor Hugo

Washington Irving

John Hancock

Commonplace 2

 

My current commonplace book is a Miquelrius notebook with a soft leather cover.  At the moment it is rather similar to a day planner, with calendars added in by me and notes on weekly activities.  However, it is much more than that.  I have made note of sites that I’ve found helpful over approximately the last eight months (like PopClogs), as well as inspirational quotes and things that I need to remember.  I’ve noted my daughter’s height and weight changes between visits to her doctor, which has shown that she is steadily growing, not too fast and not too slow.  I’ve included lists of books that I’ve checked out and enjoyed, books that I want to buy eventually, and books that others have recommended to me.  All in all, it is a convenient bundle of information, readily accessible anytime it is needed.

 

Suggested reading and sources of information for this article:

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Breaking Out of a Rut

In a Rut

Recognizing a rut

What does a rut look like and feel like?

“Stuck in a rut” is an idiom that means being mired in routine. The figurative phrase calls to mind the image of a wagon wheel hopelessly trapped in a deep rut on an unpaved road.    It feels like nothing is changing, that your life is the same all the time.  Basically, it is a fixed, usually boring routine.  You can be in a rut in relationships, at work,  in exercise or diet.  Ever had that feeling that you were going nowhere?  Just spinning your wheels?  That every day was the same?  When you are out of inspiration and ideas, you are stuck in a rut.  How can you get out of it ?  How can you get back to being creative, energetic, enthusiastic?

  1. Remember what you want.  Do you want to participate in a marathon?  Do you want THAT more than you want the doughnut at work?  How about free time on the weekend? Do you want that enough to do laundry during the evening during the week?
  2. Listen to your gut, your instinct.  I have found that when I feel a situation isn’t right for me, I should trust that feeling.  If something comes up that is a little out of your comfort zone, but you are interested in it, take a chance and do it.  You may find out something about yourself or your hidden abilities!
  3. Look at your to-do list and start on small tasks.  Clearing off your list can help make room for new ideas, new projects, and new ideas.  It can also give you energy, believe it or not.  Sometimes simply getting moving in ANY direction can help you refocus.
  4. Work on a self-improvement project.  No, I don’t mean a DIY house project or anything similar.  I mean, improve YOURSELF.  Read a book outside of your normal interests or even one on a subject you are interested in but don’t know much about.  Write a letter to the editor.  Take an online course; there are a lot of them available from mainstream universities online and FREE.  Take a class at the community college.  Go to a seminar.
  5. Talk to a friend or go out to dinner or a movie.  Sometimes getting out and about and spending time with others can get your mind off of the rut and help you break out of it.
  6. Get some exercise.   Not only may that spur new ideas and energy, it will improve your overall health and sleep.
  7. Break your pattern by doing something that you wouldn’t normally do.  If someone asks you to go to an ethic restaraunt that you haven’t been to or t see a movie of a genre that you don’t usually choose, say YES instead of no.
  8. Amazingly enough, helping someone else can help you.  If you simply cannot think of a way to get out of the rut, help out in a soup kitchen, clean out the closet and donate to a veterans’ group or local charity.Now what
  9. Don’t worry so much about mistakes.  If you try too hard to avoid failure, you will avoid success as well.  Learn from your mistakes; that is how you grow and develop good ideas and stimulate creativity, rather than stifling it.
  10. Remember that “this too shall pass.”  Everything passes, given enough time. If you are in a rut, remember that you will move through this; there will be brighter days ahead.
  11. Check your diet; sometimes eating too much junk, drinking too many things that are bad for you can make you feel stuck or uncomfortable.  Check it out and try eating a little healthier, changing a little at a time.
  12. Try a change of scenery – something simple like a walk in a natural area or as involved as a vacation.  Change your location and your surroundings.  Sometimes that is all it takes to jolt you back to creativity.  In addition, time away from the tasks at hand can give your mind the break it needs.
  13. Believe it or not, doodling helps.  Draw simple drawings or repetitive designs on a notepad for a little while.  Do it every day.  Do it when you are listening to someone or while watching TV. You will be surprised at how well this works to jump-start creativity.  Check out “zen doodling” or “zen doodles” or “doodle art” online – you will find a lot of ideas.
  14. Go for a long drive and listen to loud music.
  15. Listen to some TED talks.
  16. If your rut is diet, buy a new cook book.  Try a new type of food.  Try a new spice or ingredient.  Go to a new restaurant or try a new dish at your favorite restaurant.
  17. When you are at the grocery store, pick up a vegetable or fruit that you’ve never tried before.
  18. To keep weight loss continuing or to get off a weight loss “plateau,” change up your exercise routine.  Make sure you do different types of exercise: walking, basketball, racquet ball, aerobics, et cetera.
  19. Learn something new.  Pick up a new hobby, take an online course, go to a seminar.
  20. Set some goals.  Find something that you’ve always wanted to accomplish, set a goal and a time to accomplish it, and then break the goal down into smaller steps.  The goals don’t have to be large to start with; accomplishing anything, even a small goal, will help.
  21. If you are in a relationship rut, do something with your partner that is out of the ordinary.  If you don’t go to the theater, find something local and go.  Try out the local symphony.  Go to see a local sports team play.  Buy a conversation starter pack (cards with conversation starters) and try that.  Surprise your partner with a night out on the town – or even out of town!
  22. Attend a lecture with your partner – then go discuss it over coffee or dessert.
  23. Go out to dinner, try a new cuisine – and TURN OFF THE CELL PHONES!  Talk to each other, hold hands, go for a walk.

Nothing goes away until

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100 More Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Make lap afghans for a nursing home.
  2. Hug your loved ones.
  3. Offer someone your seat on the bus.
  4. Leave money in the vending machine.
  5. Say thank you.
  6. Give someone a compliment.
  7. Buy dessert for someone eating alone.
  8. Give an inspiring book to a struggling friend.
  9. Send someone a nice note.
  10. Say I love you.
  11. Let someone get in line in front of you.
  12. Don’t gossip.
  13. Hold the elevator.
  14. Donate your professional skills.
  15. Donate blood.
  16. Speak gently.
  17. Bake cookies for city workers.
  18. Take a special treat to co-workers.
  19. Tell your children why you love them.
  20. Volunteer at school.
  21. Adopt a shelter pet.
  22. Foster a pet.
  23. Plant flowers for someone.
  24. Forgive someone.
  25. Give your children stickers.
  26. Do a craft with a child.
  27. Write a letter to former teachers.
  28. Plant a tree.
  29. Buy a cold drink for someone at the park.
  30. Return a cart for someone at the grocery store.
  31. Crochet a blanket for the homeless.
  32. Call someone you haven’t talked to in a while.
  33. Donate clothes.
  34. Donate toys.
  35. Donate books.
  36. Give care packs to the homeless (deodorant, tooth-brush, brush, snacks, etc.)
  37. Help someone for free.
  38. Use less plastic.
  39. Be a designated driver.
  40. Be kind to someone you dislike; you never know what problem they face.
  41. Donate $1 the next time you have an opportunity.
  42. Donate a haircut.
  43. Give out free popsicles.
  44. Be a role model.
  45. Give school bus driver a thank you.
  46. Praise a parent for how well-behaved or how well their child does something.
  47. Put gas in someone’s car.
  48. Pat someone on the back.
  49. Help someone move.
  50. Cheer someone on.
  51. Share a snack.
  52. Give a child a special treat.
  53. Be positive.
  54. Ask if you can help.
  55. Be polite online.
  56. Send a random person a gift on Amazon.
  57. Give a child a card with money.
  58. Arrange a neighborhood clean-up day.
  59. Pay for he person behind you at a toll booth.
  60. Leave your finished book or magazine on the plane.
  61. Leave a balloon on a friend’s porch.
  62. Let someone go in front of you at the store.
  63. Leave a pretty journal in a dorm or library.
  64. Sing Christmas carols at a nursing home.
  65. Don’t nag.
  66. Shovel a neighbor’s walk.
  67. Praise a child doing the right thing – and his/her parents.
  68. Don’t complain.
  69. Bake a cake for the birthday person.
  70. Say hello!
  71. Buy what the neighbor’s child is selling.
  72. Be understanding.
  73. Listen to someone’s life story.
  74. Give a glowing recommendation.
  75. Ask family members to do something nice for one other person in honor of your birthday.
  76. Hand out gift cards to people going into a coffee shop.
  77. Deliver old blankets/towels to animal shelters.
  78. Leave a wake-up surprise next to family member’s beds.
  79. Work at a food bank.
  80. Warm a blanket in the dryer for your child.
  81. Set up your child’s favorite game and play it with them.
  82. Hide a dollar in your child’s pocket.
  83. Leave diapers and wipes on a changing table.
  84. Let your child stay up a little.
  85. Send your spouse out when they need a break.
  86. Call your parents just to say you love them.
  87. Leave doggie treats at a dog park.
  88. Make someone laugh.
  89. Be nice to customer service.
  90. Leave reusable bags in a shopping cart.
  91. Teach someone how to do something.
  92. Put your change in Ronald McDonald box at a McDonald’s restaurant.
  93. Buy a few iTunes gift cards and give them to teens listening to iPods.
  94. Write a letter of appreciation to your parents.
  95. Take goodies to school office staff.
  96. Write a letter of appreciation to corporate when you receive really good service at a restaurant.
  97. Give directions.
  98. Stop and help someone who looks lost.
  99. Get water for a delivery driver on a hot day.
  100. Just hold someone’s hand when they are upset.

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100 Random Acts of Kindness

  1. Buy coffee for the next person in line.
  2. Leave encouraging notes for people – in library books, on tables, near study areas.
  3. Send an encouraging email to someone.
  4. Put a note in a child’s lunch.
  5. Send an encouraging card or letter.
  6. Call your parents.
  7. Call your grandparents.
  8. Tape money for a drink to a soda machine.
  9. Leave dollars hidden near toys in the dollar store.
  10. Leave a plant on someone’s porch.
  11. Send a box of sunshine to someone.
  12. Smile at someone waiting on you.
  13. Tip well.
  14. Say hello.
  15. Buy a meal for someone in need.
  16. Save change, turn into bills, give to needy.
  17. Cut someone’s grass.
  18. Take a meal to a harried mom.
  19. Make a special treat for your family.
  20. Listen without interruption.
  21. When appropriate, give a hug.
  22. Do a chore for a loved one.
  23. Thank a veteran.
  24. Thank a teacher.
  25. Give scarves, gloves, hats, coats to the homeless.
  26. Participate in a walk/run for a cause.
  27. Leave a gift for your waiter.
  28. Leave notes in library books.
  29. If you see that someone needs something, give freely.
  30. Hold a hand.
  31. Just be there.
  32. Leave a gift card for a waiter, a mailman, your hair stylist.
  33. Donate books, supplies to a women’s shelter.
  34. Put together personal hygiene bags for a homeless shelter.
  35. Tape lottery tickets to a gas pump.
  36. Leave a Starbucks gift card with a note in a library book.
  37. Lend an ear when someone is upset – and JUST listen.
  38. Donate books to a growing library.
  39. Buy school supplies and donate to the school.
  40. Send a care package to a college student.
  41. Write to a soldier.
  42. Thank an EMT.
  43. Take cookies to the firehouse.
  44. Bundle nail files and a bottle of nail polish and leave at a park with a note – “This is for you.  Have a great day!”
  45. Write encouraging post-its and leave around the house.
  46. Cut a neighbor’s lawn.
  47. Help an older neighbor weed flower beds.
  48. Read to a child.
  49. Let a child read to you 🙂
  50. Give your child’s teachers a gift basket.
  51. Take gift cards to teachers.
  52. Give friends a night out by watching their children.
  53. Help a child with homework.
  54. Take a friend for a manicure.
  55. Take a friend out to dinner.
  56. Give someone a gift certificate for a massage.
  57. Teach a child how to do something.
  58. Give restaurant gift cards to your mailman.
  59. Make freezer meals for a family in crisis.
  60. Donate to a cause in someone’s name.
  61. Make a get well soon gift basket for someone.
  62. Leave encouraging post cards in public places.
  63. Send encouraging post cards to people who are struggling.
  64. Say you are sorry.
  65. Have tea with a friend.
  66. Be a Big Brother/Big Sister.
  67. Crochet scarves for the homeless.
  68. Make motivational/inspirational bookmarks and leave in library books.
  69. Volunteer for clean-ups.
  70. Make a favorite meal for someone.
  71. Watch your spouse’s favorite movie with him/her.
  72. Volunteer at a soup kitchen.
  73. Bake cookies for a child.
  74. Fix a nutritious snack for the homeless.
  75. Visit a lemonade stand.
  76. Give someone an umbrella on a rainy day.
  77. Leave an inspirational book in a doctor’s office.
  78. Listen – REALLY listen. Continue reading

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Filed under Gifts, Lists, Self-Improvement

May 2013 Useful, Amusing, or Odd Websites

DIY sites

http://www.diynetwork.com/topics/crafting/index.html:  The DIYNETWORK.COM site in general looks like a terrific place to spend some time (hours, days…lol).  There are sections on home improvement, made & remade, TV shows, experts and hosts and so on.  You can even search for projects that you see on TV, which is fantastic.  On the front page of the DIY section, you can easily find the editors picks, most popular, and videos, as well as repin of the week.  I highly recommend checking this one out; there are some great ideas and tips to be found.

http://www.sheknows.com/tags/diy-crafts:  Ok, I like SheKnows.com – I believe I may have already mentioned this site before.  It bears repeating.  This link goes to a list of crafts, as you can tell.  Currently chalkboards seem to be fairly popular, but there are homemade crafts for Mother’s Day, gifts using printable templates, giant fringe photo props, and an article on how to upcycle a dresser.  The website in general has the following categories to explore:

  • Entertainment
  • Beauty
  • Love
  • Parenting
  • Pets
  • Home
  • Living
  • And more

http://www.geeksugar.com/Geeky-DIY-Crafts-22651317:  Ok I am going to have to explore this site in general at some point, but this is a good article on “20 Fun and Geeky DIYs for Your Weekend.”  I am ALL about quick crafts, since I have two young children and a job.  The first is a paper iPhone stand, for the cost of a sturdy piece of card stock paper.  For the Star Wars geek in your life (or yourself, if that is YOU…lol), the second project described is a custom Star Wars poster.  I don’t know that this is up my alley, but it is a good idea!  The idea that I love MOST is the cross-stitch iPhone 4 Cover – though I’d have to adjust for my phone which isn’t an iPhone 4.  Still – this is fantastic.  The kit comes with a grid case, three colors of thread, a needle and a booklet of patterns to chose from.  And those are just the beginning…I can feel my crafty urge bubbling to the surface…

http://www.countryliving.com/crafts/projects/: I can tell that I could spend a LOT of time at this site.  First of all, I saw that there is an “Outdoor Makeover sweepstakes” that you can enter.  Also they have sections on home and decorating, food and entertaining, crafts and DIY projects, as well as outdoor living and more.    So many sections, so little time on my part. The crafts section currently shows how to stain furniture, a bloggers’ best furniture makeovers, as well as 37 Crafts Made with Recycled Materials.  In addition, there is “Crafty Christmas Gifts, “ “12 Great Gift-Wrapping Ideas”, and more.

Well-being Sites

http://livewellnetwork.com/index: This just looks like it would be such fun to explore.  Food, frying, buns in hair, videos on cooking, “Six Weeks to Sleeveless” in Mirror/Mirror.  Fashion and beauty also appear.  Fitness includes a playground workout that I may have to look at – I hate having to choose between exercising and taking my kids to the park.  There is even an article on Online Groceries – it could save you time and money.  Anyway, I found a LOT to look at here and a lot to think about as well.  Excellent site.

http://www.rainn.org/get-information/sexual-assault-recovery/self-care-for-survivors:  On a much more serious note, this is a fantastic article on self-care for survivors (of rape, sexual assault, incest, and sexual abuse).  Self-care can be a challenge for anyone, but for people in those situations it can be even more challenging – and an important part of the healing process.  I found this article thought out, and very good.  It even includes a warning to be wary of certain people who may not make recovery easier, as well as a suggestion to set limits.  Very, very important advice.  I have been through all of this and I need to absorb the advice here.

http://www.gaiam.com/self-care/10000515,default,sc.html:  Ok, I will be honest: this site sells things.  I haven’t tried anything from here yet. But, I do find it fun to look around.    They have home goods, clothing, wellness section, yoga, fitness and videos.  The link I’m sharing shares some examples for self-care: pure soap, organic cotton sheets, rainfall showerhead, and so on.

http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=847.  This is a good article for self-care and caregivers.  I have a special needs child and I find that if I don’t stop and take care of myself once in a while, I really don’t have it in me to deal calmly with issues that arise.  This describes why it is important, as well as why you should take responsibility for your own care, and how to identify personal barriers to your own self-care.  Then there are several tools suggested.  Good reading!

http://crisisclinic.org/find-help/crisis-line/self-care-strategies/.  From a crisis center come some very good suggestions for dealing with stress, trauma and crisis.  There is such an incredible strain on people these days that I thought this would be a good article to include.  This appears to be from WA State, but no doubt you can find one from your own state, along with the contact numbers, if you look on Google. (And of course, for your own area if you are out of the United States – I admit that I write with a US bias… )

 

On a lighter note:

http://www.sanitaryum.com/.  I was looking for some funny things and I found this.  Now, I get a kick out of some off-color humor as much as anyone, but sometimes it is nice to find something to share with just about anyone.  This site has cute comments, videos, and more.  There is a blog and a shop as well, but to be honest, I didn’t check those out.  I’m looking to browse, not buy!

http://www.laughdirectory.com/clean-humor – this is a link for a list of links to places to find clean humor.  I cannot vouch for all of them – I don’t have THAT much time to search, but this looks like a good place to start.  In addition, to the left of the list are folders for other types of humor, including practical jokes and pranks, science fiction and fantasy, job humor, and bizarre.

 

Oddities

In case you didn’t already realize just how strange this world and its inhabitants are, I bring you:

http://www.oddnews.org/

http://www.reuters.com/news/oddlyEnough

http://www.snopes.com/daily/

http://oddest.newsvine.com/

http://www.usnews.com/news/offbeat

http://www.dailybreeze.com/offbeat

http://www.thedailygreen.com/environmental-news/latest/strange-sea-animals-2#slide-1

http://www.livescience.com/25707-10-weirdest-animal-discoveries.html

http://science.discovery.com/creatures/10-weirdest-sea-creatures.htm

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Filed under Lists, Reference, Review, Self-Improvement