New Years’ Day is every day

By Janet Prince

Each year as one year comes to an end and the next begins we all set goals for ourselves…lose weight, exercise more, etc.  Then about a week into the new year, the goals are starting to fall by the wayside and we say we will try again next year.

Well, with each dawning morning comes the start of a new year whether its January 1st or April 30th.   Each day brings us new opportunities to be better and to do better with our lives.  Don’t look at your goals as a failure, look at them as another opportunity to try again to succeed.

This year I have decided to set goals for myself that are more inward focused instead outward for the world to see.  I have always enjoyed journaling and plan to return to that in 2019.  When my mother passed away in 2010, I journaled every night for three years.  Each night was a letter to her sharing about my day, asking for advice and letting her know how much I missed and needed her, as well as letting my tear drops fall freely.  Journaling provided me a way to heal my broken heart and it worked.  2018 was a very hard year for me emotionally and physically.  The physical will heal over time, but the emotional hurt I experienced will live with me forever.  Returning to journaling and writing a letter each night to my mother will help me heal in both.  The act of putting pen to paper and words that will live on far beyond me is sharing a roadmap of my life for my girls.  Although they have walked with me through the good and the bad times, they will be able to read how I truly felt inside about events that happened to me and to them.  If you have never journaled, I encourage you to try it.  You can journal everyday or once a week or even once a month.  Journaling is a place to share the hard times, but also the very happy times in your life.

booksAnother goal I am setting is to read more books.  Many enjoy reading on a Kindle or an I-pad or even their phone, but I’m old fashioned and love to hold a book in my hand and feel the pages.  I have a stack of books on my nightstand that I thought I would read while I was healing from my back surgery this past summer, but because it was so painful, I couldn’t concentrate.  Now that I’m six months into my 18-month recovery, reading brings me joy again!

As always, volunteering is a huge part of my life.  My club, the Woman’s Club of the Midlands, just made and donated a bookshelf filled with books and magazines to Lexington Medical Center Oncology.  The books and magazines are for the patients, as well as their caregivers, when they are receiving their treatments.  The books are there for them to borrow and will be added to each month.  This is a project that was so very simple but will bring such joy to so many.  I encourage you to find a place where you can volunteer so you can feel the joy that giving brings to your life.

2019 is beginning on a very happy note for our family as our oldest daughter is getting married on the 4th!  Fireworks will not only be fired off on New Year’s Eve, but also as we send her off to her happily ever after!

I wish you all a very happy 2019 and encourage you to set goals that make you happy and that are just for you!

Who Are Your Six People?

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I came across a great post on Positively Positive last week: Six People You Must Find Today.

Your 6 PeopleThe post challenges you to find the following six people every day for six months:

  1. SOMEONE TO LOVE. Write the name and why you love this person.
  2. SOMEONE TO THANK. You must call them and thank them. If you can’t call them, just write their name down.
  3. SOMEONE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR, but you can’t thank directly. Maybe they are dead. Or long gone from your life.
  4. SOMEONE TO FORGIVE: You don’t have to physically forgive them. It turns out the same amount of oxytocin is released if you write their name down on a piece of paper and forgive them.
  5. SOMEONE TO FORGET: No need to be angry anymore. Forget and move on, even if their actions were unforgivable.
  6. SOMEONE TO ADMIRE: We can often rewire the brain by thinking about the people we admire and want to emulate.

I love this idea, and I’m going to add it to my daily journaling. Here are my first six people:

  1. SOMEONE TO LOVE. My sister, Beth. She found me unconscious in March and has unselfishly cared for me since. She is no doubt an angel. (Most days, that is. She’s only human, after all!)
  2. SOMEONE TO THANK. The medical teams who cared for me over the past 9 months
  3. SOMEONE TO BE GRATEFUL FOR: My mother. For her love and care over the past 9 months and a million other reasons too numerous to list.
  4. SOMEONE TO FORGIVE: Unnamed co-worker from 20-some years ago who came in with new leadership and not only stripped me of any meaningful duties, but was also pretty darn nasty about it.
  5. SOMEONE TO FORGET: A lady from Treasury Drug in Greenwood who made me feel very bad about myself some 35 years ago.
  6. SOMEONE TO ADMIRE: Kassy Alia, one of the strongest women I know. The grace and love she has shown, as well as the good she has done since her husband was killed in the line of duty, is breathtaking.

Who are YOUR six people?

Jumpstart Your Journaling with 10 Questions

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

In December, I rededicated myself to writing. Not for work, this blog, or a freelance assignment, but writing for myself. I struggled a bit to get started. A blank page can be intimidating, and I’m not one to recap my day diary-style. But thanks to a recent post from MindBodyGreen (MBG), I found the solution to get my thoughts and pencil moving: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Every Day.

how to start a journal

According to MindBodyGreen:

It’s all too easy to measure yourself by how much you’ve achieved or how much money you’ve earned, or how many Facebook likes or Twitter followers you have. It’s so easy to start rushing to earn more, do more, be more, that we fail to notice the simple blessings that we encounter every day. The questions you ask yourself on a daily basis will create the person you become.

Each night, I take a few minutes to answer the questions in a fun Live-Inspired journal. I have the ten questions written on a sticky note, which I use as a reference. And I love to write with a pencil, always one with .9mm lead and a good eraser. These questions have given me a guide to use as I journal, and often spark additional ideas or feelings with I also record. Following is a list of the questions and some of my observations about them.

  1. WHAT DID I LEARN? As MBG explains, we can learn something from everyone we meet and everything we do. This question has become both my most challenging and most motivating. Sadly, in the course of a day, I don’t always learn something new, so I’m often challenged to seek out new knowledge. Two of my best sources? The Wall Street Journal and Today I Found Out.
  2. WHO DID I LOVE? Actually, I answered this question the first couple of weeks, but the answer was generally the same. So I changed it to “HOW DID I TAKE CARE OF MYSELF?” This challenges me to continue healthy habits and develop new ones.
  3. HOW WAS I VULNERABLE? I am a recovering Type-A personality who loves control, so vulnerability has always been a no-no for me. Yet a recent experience with an old friend taught me that I needed to be more vulnerable, otherwise, I’m going to miss a lot of the good stuff life has to offer.
  4. WHAT AM I GRATEFUL FOR? Studies have traced a range of impressive benefits to the simple act of writing down the things for which we’re grateful. My answers range from the silly to sublime, but it’s generally my longest entry.
  5. WHO DID I LISTEN TO? I talk a lot, but don’t listen enough. This question encourages me to be a better listener.
  6. HOW WAS I CHALLENGED? This is another question that I never struggle to answer, and interestingly enough, it often includes some of the same answers I use in the question about vulnerability.
  7. WHAT MADE ME LAUGH? It only took me a few entries to realize that I don’t laugh enough! Having to answer this question each night encourages me to find opportunities to laugh, whether it be more conversations with friends or light-hearted sources of entertainment.
  8. WHO DID I CONNECT WITH? MBG says that connection provides us with a sense of belonging that helps us to realize that we are not alone. My connections aren’t always traditional conversations. I’ve included Facebook conversations, texts and other non-traditional communications. My connections aren’t always with people who can talk back either; I also regularly connect with nature, myself and my sweet animals.
  9. HOW DID I GROW? I’m definitely a work in progress, and this is a nice way to track my development. (Or on some days, lack thereof!)
  10. WHAT DID I SHARE? MBG says that we should never underestimate our ability to inspire someone, to teach someone and/or make someone else’s life better. Sometimes my answers include such lofty entries, but other times, it may just be lunch or a chocolate bar.

If you are interested in journaling, but don’t know where to start, I would encourage adopting a similar format. You could use these questions or create your own, but either way, it will give you a good starting point and ease the intimidation of a blank piece of paper.

Do YOU journal? Do you use a template or format? What inspires you to journal? What kind of journal and/or writing instruments do you prefer?

I’ll Be Write Back

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium. ~Norbet Platt

I’ve never called myself a writer, but writing is an important part of who I am. I still have one of the first things I remember writing. It’s a letter to my father, awkwardly lettered, full of misspellings and written on bright yellow notebook paper, circa 1970s. Computers and pencil and paper 2keyboards have long replaced those wonderful Husky pencils and yellow paper, but the magic is still the same. I still love bold pencils, soft erasers and the challenge of blank paper, no matter the color.

In college, I had an epiphany that writing was my way of exploring my feelings, making sense of a crazy world and sorting the personal wheat from the chaff. I enjoyed writing for people I love, like the piece on being an adult at the holiday kid’s table at my grandmother’s house or the college updates I sent my dad when he was hospitalized. I loved firing off impassioned pleas against an injustice, whether it be a letter to the editor pleading the case of an underdog or a complaint letter about a chicken claw found in a chicken noodle soup. (Yes, that really happened!) And I discovered lists, word maps and diagrams, and used them daily to clear my mind and keep me moving forward.

Since college, I’ve written a lot. Press statements for politicians, copy for sales teams and letters for bureaucrats. Non-profit grant applications, government web site copy, newsletter articles galore. Emails, texts, social media posts and the enigmatic 140-character Tweet. And, of course, I write for the Every Woman Blog and my own, too.

Despite a full portfolio and ever expanding electronic trail, somewhere along the way, I lost my voice. I limited my words to others, and I forgot myself. Don’t get me wrong. I love using words to make a living. But the last few years, months – heck, even the last couple of weeks – I’ve run up against some emotional, complicated and/or otherwise challenging stuff. And for some reason, I haven’t taken pencil to paper.

Starting with this post, I’m going to work hard to rededicate myself to exploring my world through writing. You’ll probably start seeing more personal posts about my wellness journey on the blog, but a lot of what I do, I hope to keep in a special notebook, just for me. More like it used to be. And I’m hoping that, like Norbet Platt says, it just might help me regain my equilibrium.