Confetti

By Shannon Boatwright

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Life is crazy. Like, super crazy. It can be overwhelming, full of busy nonsense and before you know it, time has flown by and the buzz of this nonstop life seems to take away your time. In a flash.  Your day is gone. Your kids are grown. You might find yourself saying, what have I done?

Are you spending all your time focused on thinking you won’t be happy until you reach the top? Are your eyes so busy being set on the prize that you forget to live for the now and bring a little happiness into others’ lives?

All the awards, prizes and recognition won’t mean a thing in the end, because love is bigger. Happiness doesn’t come from “the stuff”, it comes from within.

We all know this. We know better. We’ve heard and read these types of words before. But do we make an effort to truly make it happen? Are you going to live your life always waiting for the confetti to fall or are you going to recognize that tomorrow may never come and you should live for right now?

So much in my complicated life lately has reminded me of the importance of NOT waiting for the confetti to fall.  I don’t want to be distracted by the noise of this ridiculous game most people play in this crazy life as they focus only on the hype, instead of the happiness. I want to cherish every precious moment and opportunity that I receive. I want to live, be happy and spread happiness to others.  I’d like to believe that when we genuinely live life and appreciate every moment, we’ll see that recognition and prizes aren’t a requirement and thus when we do receive them, they’re even more greatly treasured.Confetti

Singer/Songwriter Tori Kelly’s song, “Confetti” is beautiful and brilliant. I’m a big fan of hers and while listening to her station on iHeartRadio, this song recently played. It struck me immediately.  I took a screenshot and went straight to iTunes to purchase it.   If you have the time to take a listen, it will brighten your life. Really listen to the words and hopefully they’ll inspire you as they did me. We can always use a lovely reminder to live our lives – to really live our lives. 😉

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xjaaZ-0D2CI

The Dove Made Me Do It

By: Angie Sloan

True confession: I love dark chocolate. It’s a weakness for me. Knowing how quickly I could slip over the edge and overindulge, I limit myself to the occasional bag of Dove Almond Dark Chocolate Promises. Yes, I know there are many other brands out there, many of them a higher quality or better taste. But I like Dove, and here’s why.

It’s the little affirmations.

Dove’s marketing team had a genius idea when they came up with this. Each time you unwrap a square of Dove, there is a little message in the wrapper. Most of them are instructional: “Play a grown-up game of tag with your friends” or “Share your smile with someone” – the list goes on.

After consuming about a half a bag in a PMS-fueled binge, I stacked all of the wrappers together and came up with a plan.

  1. Stop eating the chocolate
  2. Pick 5 of the affirmations and actually do them.

The first affirmation:

Buy something frivolous. Who needs an affirmation to do this one? But I am in a minimalist mindset, so it was a bit more challenging than before. Frivolous? Hmmmm. What to get? New shoes? No, not it in the mood to try them on. Jewelry? No. Just because Dove said it, doesn’t mean I need to spend a ton of cash. I pondered and thought about it.  Chocolate should not be this hard. And then it came to me. I wanted a bouquet of flowers. Nice, bright beautiful flowers. Bought for me, by me. No occasion.

The Peace Palace

Happy Hour at Barbara’s

Call an old friend just to catch up. This was easy. I called my friend Barbara. We’ve been friends for over 20 years and it was great to catch up with her. Later that week, we met up for a relaxing happy hour at her house (what she refers to as her “Peace Palace”) and we talked for hours. It was great fun! (See pics below of the spread she prepared). Thank you, Barbara. (And thank you, Dove.)  

Quote your dad. I read this one and it hit me right in the heart. I’ve not reconciled my father’s death. I’ve not grieved as I should. I haven’t even written about him like I did with my mother.

My dad

With her, it was my coping mechanism. But for some reason, I couldn’t do it with my father. My father had so many wonderful quotes. He possessed a deep wisdom that he kept well cloaked underneath his larger-than-life exterior. He always told me, “Speak to everyone at work, from the janitor to the boss. It keeps you humble.” This little chocolate wrapper made me think back to his words. I could almost hear his voice. It was healing.

Give someone a compliment. I think as women, we should empower other women. So I didn’t stop at one compliment, I did it all day! A compliment should always be sincere. I didn’t just say something nice to fulfill my chocolate obligation, I made sure what I said came from a real place. And it felt wonderful! If I liked someone’s earrings, I told them. If I liked her hair, I told her. At the end of the day, my cup was overflowing with good feelings.

Learn something new about a loved one. My cousin Tammy told me a funny story about her mother, my Aunt Sis. “Sis” as she was called, was a fashionista back in the day. She loved having matching shoes for each and every outfit she owned. But times were tight and she couldn’t afford to continuously buy new shoes. To solve her dilemma, she befriended the guys at the local paint store and began painting her shoes to match her outfits. I laughed when Tammy told me. But it was quite smart. She was trendy like that until the day she passed.

In total….

I plowed through countless numbers of delicious chocolates. Got some flowers. Spent time with an old friend. Reminisced the good times with my dad. Made random strangers happy. Learned a great story to share about my aunt.

This was fun and I was on a roll! I decided to select one more wrapper from the stack. And it read: Why not?

And that was all the affirmation I needed. It was permission…permission to polish off the rest of the bag of chocolate. After all, it provided me with inspiration to write this post. Why not indulge a little more?

Daily Affirmations

By: Shannon Boatwright

Affirmation: Noun

  1. the action or process of affirming something or being affirmed.
  1. emotional support or encouragement

I recently took on a lovely challenge. A challenge to write daily affirmations. Seven straight days of writing and posting on Instagram my own personal, unique affirmations.

Author and poet, Alex Elle, inspired me to take on this challenge. I committed to it and tried to soak in the words I chose as my personal proclamation. An affirmation is something you pronounce to yourself, to your world. You make a declaration of support and inspiration for yourself.

I enjoyed this personal journey and experienced how it indeed provided personal encouragement as I made the most of each day, attempting to live it out with my own individual force, recognizing the magic within me. We really do have the grand opportunity and ability to build ourselves into truly incredible human beings. We have the power to tap into our inner strength and boost our natural abilities to make great things happen. Sometimes we just need to take the time to recognize our potential.  And, doing these daily affirmations certainly creates a moment for you to think deep on the capacity you have for success and happiness.

You are amazing, on so many levels. Allow yourself to tap into your inner magic! Take time for you. Add depth to your days! I challenge you to inspire yourself and do daily affirmations. Start with just one week of choosing daily affirmations. Write them in a journal, on a piece of scrap paper to post on your refrigerator, on your calendar, post on Facebook or Instagram, whatever, however you choose, it’s up to you. It only takes a few minutes. And those few minutes can lead to you feeling stronger, living each moment of your day with a sense of control and passion, and ultimately lead you to create personal success.

Here are just a few of my own daily affirmations:

“It’s never too late to decide to be more of who you really are. Bring the joy to each situation of life and you feel more like yourself.” – Brendon.com
7/18/17 – Today I affirm: To be my true self and find joy in being me. – Shannon Boatwright

“Look past your thoughts so you may drink the pure nectar of this moment.” – Rumi
7/19/17 – Today I affirm: To be in the moment and do my best to not let my stressful thoughts consume me. – Shannon Boatwright

“Protect Your Magic.” – GirlBoss
7/22/17 Today I affirm: Today I promise to recognize the magic within me. I vow to accept, celebrate & utilize my own unique sparkle that allows me to create magic for myself & others. – Shannon Boatwright

Are You Experiencing One Wild and Precious Summer?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Oprah has inspired me. There, I said it. And I know I’m not special with this ‘being inspired’ moment, as millions – probably more – are inspired by the woman on a daily basis. But I have to admit, I’ve been aching to write. I even told my husband the other day, “I want to write a book.” He responded with, “What about?”

My response, “I’m not sure.” I know I have something to share. In fact, I have a lot I could/can share. But where to start?

The other week, my Mama dropped off some magazines for me, which she occasionally will do. When she’s done scouring the pages, she’ll hand them over for me to enjoy. In this case, she left the June 2017 issue of Oprah’s O Magazine. After sitting on my kitchen island for almost two weeks, I finally had a day in which I felt relaxed enough to truly sit down and enjoy flipping through a magazine. This particular day was July 4th. My children were out of town with their father, and my husband and I had the day to enjoy together. No work, no commitments. At first we felt the pressure to go do something, go to the lake, party with friends, do something spectacular and cool on this holiday. But, we gleefully discovered we were on the same page and wanted nothing more than to just relax, do nothing, and enjoy being together. We avoided the South Carolina heat, did nothing spectacular, and loved every minute of it. As we basked in our uneventful day, I read through the pages of the magazine, consistently being pulled in by article after article. By the end of the day, I was in awe at the realization that I could not put the magazine down and had been inspired by not just one article, but so many that I had folded down more page corners than I think I ever have in any magazine. Each writer inspired me to think of things that I want to write about and share with the world in hopes that I could in turn inspire someone, fill their heart maybe, bring a smile to their face. It’s a wonderful, sometimes indescribable thing when that happens. It’s something us writers live for and absolutely love when these unexpected moments of inspiration capture our time and attention.

So what do I share now? Well, the cover of this particular O Magazine issue is all about summer and it wasn’t just the glorious beach picture with Oprah that caught my attention, but the headline that says, “Your One Wild and Precious Summer”. Something about this wording caught my eye and peeked my interest. It wasn’t until nighttime that I got to the article that belonged to this headline. Page 87 – the title page – contained a short paragraph that got me thinking. Then I noticed the asterisk – it’s an explanation, or tease if you will, about that intriguing headline…it said:

“*If you’ve never read Mary Oliver’s poem “The Summer Day,” please do. It inspired this headline, and it will surely inspire you.”

Oprah and your fabulous peeps – Mission Accomplished!

I immediately picked up my phone, Googled Oliver’s poem, and voila! Next thing you know I’m searching for an image of the poem and posting it on my Instagram.

Yep.  I was indeed inspired.

“The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver

Who made the world?

Who made the swan, and the black bear?

Who made the grasshopper?

This grasshopper, I mean-

the one who has flung herself out of the grass,

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,

which is what I have been doing all day.

Tell me, what else should I have done?

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?

Tell me, what is it you plan to do

with your one wild and precious life?

As I was letting the words, phrases and meaning of the poem sink in, I started falling into that typical human trap of thinking negatively…blah, blah, blah, wah, wah, wah, …

Then, I realize, oh my gosh…Mary, Oprah, I HAVE been living a fabulous summer. What!?

Like possibly one of the first summers in which it actually does feel wild and precious.  

Yes! Quite honestly, I don’t want it to end. I worked so incredibly hard this past school year. Always on the go, always exhausted, always looking forward to better things, better times.

But this summer has been different for me. Not just a regular teacher’s break from the insanely busy school year, but I was actually blessed with the chance of a lifetime.

I’m gonna admit here that I honestly don’t know the words to describe what I hope and pray will not end up being a once in MY lifetime experience… At this point, I still feel like it was all a dream. And I promise you I am not over-exaggerating.

I was graced with an all-expense paid trip to Europe. I traveled through the South of France, all along the French Riviera – shopping in Cannes, Hollywood dream-like dining in Saint Tropez, even a dreamlike visit to Monaco, staying in Sainte-Maxime, France in one of the most gorgeous homes I’ve ever set eyes on, much less visited. I consistently pinched myself in an attempt to remind myself that the whole experience was actually real. Closing out my 9-day journey was a visit to Switzerland – a magical place that totally captured my heart, so much so that I think I will forever fantasize about retiring there. And, the bonus was that I had the privilege of enjoying this adventure with my amazing, sweet Mama – my rock, my truly forever BFF – as we were hosted by most precious, dear friends of hers.

Whew…. deep breathes and overwhelming, heart-warming joy fills me at just the thought of these amazing friends of my mother’s…

Needless to say, I could write novels, even movie screenplays, based on the beautiful things, places and people that I saw and the incredible stories that were shared with me. My heart and mind get overwhelmed just thinking about the fabulousness and preciousness of it all and the true blessing of meeting these truly incredible people.

I’ll possibly, hopefully, eventually share more about this-out of-MY-world start to my “wild and precious summer”. But for now, I thank Oprah and Mary Oliver for reminding me that it’s solely up to me how I live out my all too-short-summer. I have the power to make it fabulous. And though my summer of 2017 certainly got off to an insanely fantastic start, I plan to do my best to “squeeze every last drop of bliss and awe, out of this, my untamed summer.”

As Mary Oliver hints in her lovely poem, life is short! The way I see it, we get one chance to rock it, be our best and truly live it up!  I have a feeling she and Oprah would agree with me.

So how do YOU plan to make the best of it? Let’s start with this season currently in our midst. Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious summer? 😉

Accidental Blessings

By: Shannon Boatwright

“you deserve to be in spaces and relationships that make you happy. that feed your soul and help you grow. you are worthy of connections that are loving, nourishing, kind, and authentic. so before you settle for anything less than, remind yourself that the places you visit, and the people you journey with through life, should make you feel safe, loved and enough”

– alex elle

Coming across this particular quote was an accidental blessing.

One of my favorite radio stations is q93.5. I follow them on Instagram. This past Sunday they posted this quote by Alex Elle, wishing everyone a good morning. I had no idea who this Alex Elle was. In fact, upon first read earlier in the day, I thought, maybe it’s from some of the DJ’s named Alex and Elle? Later on Sunday night, before diving into a load of stressful work, I treated myself to one more scan of Instagram, secretively hoping for some uplifting inspiration to help lift my head out of my state of overwhelming work and life stuff. I allowed myself to read the q93.5 Instagram post again and really soaked in the words. I thought, wow, this is lovely. This is gold. Priceless truth for your life.

I immediately knew I needed to find out who Alex Elle was. I Googled the name and came across this site  www.alexelle.com – a beautiful discovery for sure. Come to find out, this Alex Elle is a brilliant writer, a woman who shares her passion for life, love and healing through poetry, narrative writing, storytelling…At first glance over her website and blog, I have fallen in love with her positive spirit of hope, self-love, healing, and positive living. I immediately signed up for her email newsletters of encouragement and plan to follow her blog.

My accidental blessing of coming across this incredible woman’s amazing work as I simply sought out a quick escape before trudging through required, aggravating school work, has enriched my life. I only hope that I’ll continue to pursue her encouragement and let it help build the strength that I know is within me. If I could do what she does and have the means to dive into my writing, share my own personal journey, and spread joy, love, encouragement and hope into others lives, and actually make a living at it, I WOULD TOTALLY DO SO!

Here’s to praying that my accidental blessing will lead me to wonderful achievements. I know I’ve already scored by discovering a gorgeous mentor in Alex Elle. We’ll see where life leads me. I certainly agree with what she says in her quote. Amen, amen and amen to that one. I’m ever thankful for the priceless people in my life that come to mind when I read her words. As I scan over her other words of encouragement, I am reminded of the power within – the power that we have to make great things happen for ourselves.  Hmmmmm…maybe God and the universe is trying to tell me something? Maybe it’s time to pursue new goals and make greater things happen so that I can make more of a difference in other’s lives as I enrich my own?

How Do You Stay Inspired?

By: Shannon Boatwright

Stay Inspired

“Stay Inspired

It takes work to stay inspired in life. Negative people, experiences, and circumstances can easily get us off course, disconnected and off center. There is, however, always a path back to the positive, back to being inspired. Always have something to read that inspires you with you at all times, talk to those who love you to get you back on track, and the magical cure is to work hard in your own life and on yourself until you feel better. Negative times in life pass through. They come and they go. If they stay for too long, then there is something missing on your end. Focus forward, focus inward, set new goals, let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better. There is always something you can do to make your life better. The greatest attribute to apply to your off balance days is patience and faith. It will all pass, and things will be renewed again. Once you can accept where you are and you stop fighting it, the solutions you have been looking for will appear. As long as you are over focused on the negative and only thinking about how bad things are, the more you push your solutions away. Do all you can to stay inspired. Whatever works for you: church, exercise, writing, spending time with others, prayer, movie days, reading. Do it all and your luck will change.”

– Sherrie Campbell, PhD
http://www.sherriecampbellphd.com/

The above was shared by a Facebook friend. It has become my new mantra. I don’t personally know this beautiful lady, Dr. Campbell, but I’d like to. I can, without hesitation, say that I am very thankful to have come across this post. Like every human being, I go through ups and downs. Some days I am strong and full of faith and positivity. And other days, I struggle something fierce to keep my head above the heart-wrenching, suffocating waters of life. This short message from Sherrie truly embodies the ultimate survival guide, as far as I’m concerned. She manages to brilliantly say what I know in my heart, but all too often have a hard time accomplishing. Simply put, staying inspired can keep you on the positive and successful track of life. When I really think about it, I see how I do this already, without really knowing it. I will get overwhelmed with the stresses and negative forces in my life and there will be something that will inspire me, fill me up and help to rebuild my spirit, putting me back in a positive state of being. Whether it’s music, exercise, special moments with my angel babies, quality time with my true love, prayer, praise or affirmation of some sort from my students, co-workers, family, a quote, or lovely share like this one from Dr. Sherrie Campbell, that inspires me and fills my empty, aching spaces, reminding me of all the good there is to live for… whew… where would we be without these fulfilling moments?

Dr. Campbell is so incredibly right! We must stay inspired. Our inner wellbeing relies on it!
I love that she states to “focus forward, focus inward…let go of the past and focus on what you can do today to make your life better.” I read and reread her words above, and I believe it is now part of my anthem for a better life. Patience and faith are key. So as you grasp hold of that faith that you know is within you, as you’re having to reach through pain and/or grief, and you pull patience from your toes that you never knew you were capable of, remember to allow yourself to be inspired. Seek out those things in your life that provide priceless inspiration that begin to fill your heart and soul from the inside out and renew your inner workings that keep you full of the beautiful spirit of life and love. Stay inspired!

How do you keep a positive flow running through your life? What inspires you to open yourself to love, faith and success? Please share. We need all the inspiration we can get! 😉

Rule Your World!

By: Shannon Boatwright

rule-your-world

That Amy Poehler has got one heck of a great point. Let’s think about this. Think on all the moments in your entire lifetime when you wish you had gotten up and acted on the inspiration that stirred within you. Those simple moments when your favorite song graced the airwaves and you could hardly resist singing and/or dancing along. Or those deeper moments when the pressure in your chest, that weighed heavy on your heart, sent a message to your brain, desperately wanting you to speak out, lend a helping hand, come to someone’s rescue, or stand up for what you knew in your heart was right. But then you allowed the strains of society to control your inspirations and out of shyness, embarrassment and/or fear, you held in your moment of passion. You pushed that act of inspiration down, stifled it, and later only wished you’d just let it go and lived out your passion in that moment.

Great quotes seem to inspire me left and right. This quote caught my attention because I’ve lived the depth behind it – on minor and major levels. When I was a young child, I was incredibly shy. When I was in my element, surrounded by close friends and family, some of my fabulousness would shine and break through, but all too often, shyness, timidness and fear kept the true fruits of my inspirations locked down. I felt that feeling of regret, disappointment and dismay on so many occasions – for not letting myself speak out and stand up for what I believed in or let loose and be totally taken by the incredible music. As I got older, I realized I hated that feeling of regret. I hated that pressure in my chest that built when I really wanted to do or say something, and I started to do better. It’s been a gradual process to build the confidence to follow my inspirations. Sometimes I rock it and other times I fall short and am left with that disappointment for not taking action. But at my age now, I appreciate the awareness of knowing the joy and/or relief that I can feel, if I just allow myself to rule my own world.

So consider if you will, letting go of your inhibitions and fear of what others think and just dance, speak up, stand tall… Be free and rule your world! 🙂