Kindness

This weeks Challenge for Home Life Simplified is regarding Gratitude and Kindness.

Since I have already set up a way to acknowledge the moments in my life that I am grateful for, I thought I would concentrate on kindness.

When you think of it, kindness is so easy, it is free to do, but the thing that stops most of us practising kindness is probably the fact that we are in such a hurry every day.

While it would be so easy to hold a door open for someone, ask an upset person if they are ok, let another car in front whilst in the traffic, or simply just lend and ear to someone in need, many people are in too much of a hurry rushing through life to stop to think of doing some simple act of kindness.

I am just as guilty at times.

This week I set out to work on my kindness.

I thought it would be something grand and extravagant I could do, I was thinking of making some homemade gifts for friends………… that did not happen.

Then at the beginning of the week the kids wanted the window wound down in the car, they were yelling out “Hello!” to people as they walked by our car.

I suggested that they try saying something nice to each person, that did not take long to catch on, some of the things I heard being yelled out the back of my car were:

“You are beautiful!”

“Have a nice day!”

“I like what you are wearing!”

Some people looked on confused, others smiled and waved, but looking at the happy smiling faces in the back of my car, I knew that the kids had got a lot from doing this anyhow.

I have also made a conscious effort of late to acknowledge good service. I have often taken a few moments just to email head office’s of companies to commend them on the great service I have received from individual staff members.

If someone has given me good service, I take note of their name, and send off and email.

This week I sent another letter off after I got some great service last week at McDonald’s when I took my son there for morning tea for his birthday.

I did not have the best grip on my tray when I picked it up, and I knocked my coffee over, it was my fault, but the lady at the counter insisted on giving me a whole new one, even though only a little spilled out. She then went on to inspect our hot cakes to make sure they were not damaged, and gave us a whole new tray.

I thanked her for her kindness, and then went on to send an email to the head office, I hope she gets praised by her boss for her great service too, she deserves it.

This week I also worked at taking longer to ask others about themselves, the mothers waiting outside the classroom with me, the customers that came into work, the people I interacted with anywhere.

I found myself laughing more, having a joke with strangers, and making moments that may otherwise seem long so fast.

Kindness really is simple, yet the effects are great, they help the receiver and the recipient.

I will endeavour to carry out more acts of kindness in the future.

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Where is my Courage?

Deb from Home Life Simplified set another timely challenge for week 10 – How to Face your Fears

This week I did not have to go out in search of things to test my courage, they all came to me!

It has been a really trying week in our household.

We have taken in my 15-year-old niece, Jazz.

Jazz and I

Jazmine’s Mum, Tamina (my sister) sadly passed away from cancer when Jazz was only 2, and since then she has been raised by her Grandma, (my Mum).

The generation gap between Grandma and Grandaughter has been a challenge, and their relationship has hit rock bottom after some trying times.

We are opening our hearts and home to Jazmine, we want her to feel safe and secure and loved in her new home, and we just want her to grow into the best young adult she can be.

But that does not mean I am not silently packing myself in the meantime! I have no idea how to raise a teenager, and it is safe to say that Jazz has become a bit wild in recent times. I also have the interest of my children to keep, I want them to also feel safe and secure in their home, the change has already started to tug on everyone’s emotions.

I have found myself crying at the drop of a hat.

It should be my sister getting to raise her daughter, life just is not fair at times. I do feel for Jazz and all the changes she has had to have in her life as well.

I not only worry about how emotionally and physically draining it is going to be, but how financially draining it will be to have an extra person in our house, then I feel guilty for feeling these things! It is one giant emotional train ride.

We have had to enrol her into a new school for next term, try to work out how to get her to the current school for the remainder of the term, and many other little obstacles.

Jamie – my husband has spent his two days off in the week creating a space for Jazmine to call her own. Together we have spent hours sanding, fixing, painting, cleaning, scrubbing the room. In the end we looked at each other in complete exhaustion and said “We have given our all”. The room is not perfect, but at the moment it will just have to do.

My kids seem to be noticing the change in the house, and becoming a little more sensitive as well, so we all seem a tad “delicate” at the moment.

This week we have all  felt fear, and we have looked it in the eye.

If it was any other situation, perhaps I may have decided that I was not up the the challenge of fear just yet, and walk away.

In this situation I cannot walk away, we just have to get on with it, start learning the ropes along the way of raising a teenager. We have set some ground rules, and expectations, we have given boundaries and reminders that we will enforce them.

We aim to work together as a team to make this happen.

To start with, I felt weak when thinking of my behaviour this week, emotional, scared and confused, but then I gave myself some slack.

I am emotional, scared and confused, but despite that all, I am jumping in, even if I do feel like I am jumping in blind with no idea, I am jumping in anyhow.

Courage is not something that only I can take credit for this week, I have to say that I am so thankful for the kind, loving support from my friends, family and especially my lovely husband.

Everyone has been so supportive, and encouraging, and sometimes having a support team like that is just what you need to spur you on to do what needs to be done.

There have been many moments this week that I have not believed in myself, or my ability to make this new situation work correctly, but then I get the odd text or email from someone saying “I believe in you, you can do this”

Or my husband whispering to me at the end of the day:

“It will be ok, we will work it all out in the end”

And so I start believing too, no matter how scared I am of what lays ahead for us, it will work out in the end, we will make sure of it.

Go Easier On Yourself – I am enough.

Home Life Simplified Challenge: Week 9 – Go Easier on Yourself

I have just deleted my original post for this weeks challenge, it was long winded, disjointed and in the end even I could not understand it!

I do have to say that  this weeks challenge was a timely one, definitely one that came useful in the week I have just had.

In a recent post of mine, I explained how I feel that I have finally come to a point in my life where I accept myself for exactly who I am, all the quirks and traits that make me the person I am.

While this is true, I still think I am rather hard on myself with the expectations I lay on myself, mostly on a daily basis.

I get to the end of the day and berate myself for not ticking off all the things on my list, the fact that I have gone to bed with a couch filled with unfolded washing, or that I was so tired that we have not eaten anything more fancy then scrambled eggs on toast or sausage rolls and salad for dinner for the last few nights.

Its motherhood and managing a house that I find are the areas in which I am so hard on myself, I feel lazy, unmotivated and not so up to the job at times.

This week was so great, as I used the challenge as a reminder to whisper to myself throughout the week:

“I am enough”

Soon enough those words started to have the desired effect.

I am not superwoman, and no one (including myself) should expect me to be.

I make mistakes like everyone else, but this is always a great way to learn.

At the end of each day, there is always the knowledge that no matter how bad it went, or how many things went wrong, there is always tomorrow, a clean, fresh slate to try again.

So this week I went to bed earlier, to read and relax before sleep.

I chose to play with my kids over housework (though with the current renovations, housework was  pretty useless anyway!).

I reminded myself that I was human, and it was ok to be down at times, to be tired, to be drained, it was ok to listen to my body even if there was a millon things that were screaming to be done or sorted.

Amongst all this, those three simple words “I am enough” provided me with lots this week, the reminder that even if I am not like others, even if I feel like a failure at times, I am not:

I am enough

Gratitude Makes Me Happy.

Well it has been a few weeks since I have participated online in the Home Life Simplified Challenge (I have been kind of playing at home).

I love this weeks challenge of defining what makes you happy.

I took a moment to think about this challenge when Deb had set it, and instantly worked out what makes me happy, quite simply its gratitude, and being grateful.

There is a quote by Cicero that says

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.”
When I first commenced my 365 moments of Gratitude Project  I had no idea how much the above quote would soon ring true in my life.
As I have said before, I was in a bit of a slump in my life, feeling a bit sorry for myself, and looking at all the things in life that I didn’t have, rather than focusing on the abundant amount of things that I could be grateful for.
Slowly I got into the groove of finding one thing to be grateful for each day, some days it feels like I could take many photographs, and while at one stage the thought of finding 365 things to be grateful for seemed daunting, I now know that I could easily find 3065 things, as our lives are filled with so many daily treasures that we sometimes just are too busy, or too blind to take notice of.
I can safely say that I am happier since commencing my project, that by being grateful, I have brought many other things into my life, the ability to take the time to enjoy life’s blessings on a daily basis.
I used to think that I would be happier if we had more money, I had a better job, bigger house, or more “things” in my life. I used to get upset about the things that did not work out for us.
On reflection of this project, I see that the things that I am most grateful for are mostly free. The love of my family, the smiles on my kids faces, friendship, nature, peace, a moment alone.
Once I started to take time to be grateful for all the little wonders in my life, I felt that I was starting to be blessed with more and more beautiful and amazing things in life. I realise that I wasn’t, it was just that finally I was being thankful for what I had, rather than regretful for what I didn’t have.
I still have dark moments, and bad days, I am only human after all. I am not sure that everyone who meets me may refer to me as a “happy person”, but inside I feel happier, I feel more at peace.
And I have learnt that no matter how crappy a day is, there is always at least one thing, one person or one moment within it that you can be grateful for.
I have also learnt that happiness does not just come and land in your lap, you need to acknowledge it, and find all the things that make you happy in life.
 After all, life is way too short to be spent miserable.

Mission Statement

Week 3 of  Home Life Simplified Challenge is to create a Family Mission Statement.

To do so we sat down as a family and discussed what we thought we do well, what we think we need improvement on, and what we would like to see more of.

Our little family meeting was rather funny. Kiara is 5 and had lots to talk about, even if a huge chunk of it was not to do with the subject on hand, but she was interested.

Noah is 2 and was coming up with random comments, but was also commenting on trips we had taken as a family that he liked, a ride on the local skyrail that was a fun day for all of us, and even though was almost a year ago, must have held some sort of fond memory in his memory bank for him.

We had lots of laughs together, and the discussion got way off track, but it also showed us what we are good at, working as a team and having fun together, we work best when we are doing that, as I imagine most family units do.

With all the thinking of Family Mission Statements, and personal and family values, we decided to make a “Value Tree”, we decorated twigs with all sorts of collage materials, and hung the words of various values that we feel are important to us. It is now sitting at our front door, a reminder of what we all wish to stand for.

 

 

Our Family Mission Statement 

We will support, encourage and celebrate each family members unique qualities. 

We will also do this in the community. 

We endeavour to interact with each other and the community with kindness, compassion and respect. 

We will not yell at each other when tired, upset or angry, but rather take a moment to ourselves to become calm.

We will use kind words, respect and manners when interacting with others.

We will celebrate and  encourage each family members goals and achievements.

We will respect each others personal belongings and need for space.

We will focus on the beautiful and abundant things we have in our lives and remember to be grateful.

We will make the most of family time.

 

It would have been easy to continue with this statement, to make more of it, but I reminded myself that this was about keeping it simple.

I found by sitting down as a family, we all really value time together, no matter what we are doing, unfortunatley this is not regular, with Jamie having his two days off a week while Kiara is at school, and working long hours the rest of the time.

“Family time” is very rare, so I think the main thing is that we do really need to make the most of it, as it is important to us all.

 We also discussed how well we work when we unite as a team, yet how we can sometimes work on the way in which we communicate with each other.

In thinking of all we wish to stand for, along with our mission statement, I think we best sum up our family by saying:

 TOGETHER,

WE ENDEVOUR TO BE THE BEST PEOPLE WE CAN BE,

IN WHATEVER SITUATION LIFE THROWS OUR WAY.

 

Yep, I’m happy with that! ( now hopefully I will stop talking in my sleep about Family Mission Statements, its driving DH mad!)

 

 

I am linking up with Home Life Simplified 

HLS Challenge: Week 2 – Define Your Values

Week 2 of the Home Life Simplified Challenge http://www.homelifesimplified.com.au/ was to Define Your Values.

Sounded fairly easy at first view right?

Wrong! This one was a real challenge for me, a real thought provoking challenge, but one I am glad to have worked through.

So here was the list of the Values that stood out most to me:

Balance

Compassion

Fairness

Family

Friendliness

Gratitude

Health

Hope

Humour

Positivitiy

Reliable

Self Development

Then it came to cutting the list down to what I thought was the 5 most important Values to me.

One thing I found important in this excersise, was thinking of what is most important right now, some of these values would have been more important a year ago, but not as high up on the list now, and I think some that are important now may make way to others down the track. After all, our lives, goals and situations are forever changing.

 I do not know if that is how others undertaking this excercise also felt, but I needed to be true to myself and come out with what I thought, rather than what may be expected of me.

So my Top 5 Values ended up being:

Balance

Family

Gratitude

Health

Self Development

Time to rank them in order of what I felt was most important:

#1: Family:  

 My family is very important to me. When Jamie and I first married, I thought of that moment as us becoming our own family, the begginning of our very own chapter, even before we became parents.

I love that by having kids of our own, we can demonstrate our own values, beliefs and ideas with them. We can learn from our mistakes of our past, know what did not work  for us as children, and hope to guide our own the best we can.

For me, it feels like we have been given a fresh, clean slate, every family has its dysfunctions within it, both of us are no stranger to that, and while we never aspire to be “perfect”, we are aiming to be the best we can be.

I also find time with my family very valuable at the moment, with Jamie working every weekend, and only having his 2 days off in the middle of the week, once Kiara starts school in just over a week, there will not be one day a week where all 4 of our family members are at home, and as Jamie works late on the nights he does work, we need to make the most of every little second we have together.

It is not the most ideal situation right now, but its the situation we have to deal with.

 

#2: Health:

  With 2  mild  health conditions, I realise how hard it is to live a normal day to day life when you are not 100%.  I have been in absolute pain, know what it is like to be completely exhausted, and the feeling of just merely “exisiting”.

With proper treatment, I can live a normal life, and I really appreciate that.

I value health as I know how hard it is to function when we are not feeling our best, and am thankful for my health.

I also aim to continue eating better, as well as excersising more, to ensure that I keep my health at the best it can be.

 #3 : Gratitude:

Practising gratitude has become a very important part of my life.  Taking a moment daily to look at all the little things that I have to be grateful for has been a wonderful step in my life.

I am an overthinker, who can sometimes let my thoughts carry me away to a place where I really make a moutain out of a mole hill.

Therefore I do find that being Grateful grounds me a lot, even when it seems there is a lot happening in my life, and things get a bit overwhelming, I can always find something  to be grateful for. Sometimes the snow ball effect into negative thinking is just way too easy to take off,  so taking stock of all the things in my life that are great brings me back to a more positive outlook.

In turn, I am appreciative when others demonstrate gratitude, and have found since I have been showing more gratitude to life, it has been coming back to me as well, I don’t know if its just that I am more focussed on it, but I find that my kids are a lot more grateful as well.

#4: Self Development:

I think as people we always have something new to strive for or work on, we are all developing each and every day.

Personally I find at any given time I may have a few things in my life that I need to work on, or work at.

I value Self Development as it is important to always look towards being the best person you can be at any given moment.

This may include having the courage to try something new, no matter how afraid you are, the ablility to be more assertive when others put you down, learning how to best deal with certain situations or just simply learning something new that makes you a better, stronger person.

#5: Balance:

I value Balance in life, work, family, friends, play, housework, time alone, there is a lot of people and things to cram into our every day life, and I think at times it can become a bit overwhelming to work out how much time gets spent on each and every section in your life.

Balance is important to me, as I can feel overwhelmed if the scales tip too much in one direction, I also want to make sure that there is lots of fun in life, not just the mundane tasks that seem to sometimes take up a large chunk.

I have found that I can work out little ways to balance my daily routine out. If we are having a day at home, and I have spent most of the day doing chores around the house, I can start to feel a bit drained by it all, so I will often make sure I take some time to go outside to just sit, take in the fresh air, feel the breeze on my face, watch the birds fly by, encourage the kids to run around. I have found this is a great excercise for me to balance out my day.

 

So that is my 5 top values! It really was a lot harder to pick then I imagined.

I felt that I picked Values that I need or want in my life at this point in time, but I do think that as times goes on, and situations change, our values may also change as well.

I would like to think I have core values and morals that are forever embedded into me, of being a reliable, honest, trustworthy person, I would like to think these are values that I do not have to think about our rank as they are just who I am.

By approaching this challenge in that manner, this was the only way for me to successfully narrow down to the final 5 values.

 

I am linking up with Deb from Home Life Simplified http://www.homelifesimplified.com.au/ for the Home Life Simplified Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Week 1: Home Life Simplified Challenge

Week 1 of Home Life Simplified 52 week Challenge is to create a list of the things that went “right” in 2011.

On reflecting on 2011, I realise that I began the year with my own mini “Pity Party” happening, I was exhausted, working shift work, having only a few hours sleep most nights, before getting up to look after two very energetic kids.

I was constantly getting comments on how tired and worn out I looked.  I would look in the mirror and see eyes surrounded with dark circles, pasty skin, and one exhausted woman, I felt I was just “existing”.

Lack of sleep led to high emotions, it was a vicious cycle of negativity, as I felt worn out each day, I would sit and think of all the people who’s lives seemed to be easier than mine, I was one Negative Nancy.

Being physically and emotionally drained led to increase of health problems, decrease of social life, and feeling like I was one of those hamsters running on a wheel, doing the same thing every day, but getting absolutely nowhere.

Realistically, I knew I did not have it anywhere near as bad as other people, and I knew I was currently in the position I needed to be at that point of my life.

 

In May, I commenced my own project of Gratitude :https://www.facebook.com/pages/Alicias-365-Moments-of-Gratitude-Project/166458533413760    I set out to take a photograph each day for a year of something in my life I was grateful for. To start with, I thought that it would be difficult to find things to be grateful for, I thought I would do the few obvious ones, and then run out of things to do, but I was desperate to change my negative mindset, so I just jumped in head first into this project, and I am happy to say, this was my single greatest decision of 2011.

Suddenly I began to notice all the wonderful, small things in life, as I began to find things to be grateful for, my mindset improved, I stopped getting upset about what I did not have in life, and started to rejoice all the wonderful things that I DID have.

Many of the wonderful things were free:

  • The love of my family
  • The joy of being a Mother and Wife
  • Being blessed by wonderful friendships
  •  The beauty of nature, the peace that came with just sitting, watching and listening to a bird in our backyard, or watching a butterfly flying by
  • Allowing  my inner child out to play
  • Taking a moment to be peaceful, still, and just be
  • Knowing that even when everything was not perfect, that there is always something wonderful in my life at that moment to be grateful for

I noticed that my change in mindset also changed my relationships with others, I began to appreciate my role as a Mother, Wife and Friend more, and I importantly began to become my own friend.

 I started to be a lot gentler on myself, I started to tame that inner voice that would put myself down, in doing so, I also realised that I did not really do anything for myself, so I took up new activities, and enjoyed having the project as an excuse to indulge in photography, a hobby I have loved for a long time, but had lost some of my passion for.

Other people seemed to enjoy talking to me more than before, I didn’t feel drained after leaving conversations (my own side of the conversation used to drain me more than anything). The added bonus of starting my gratitude project also enabled me to connect with wonderful people from other Facebook pages and blogs, something I had never imagined doing before, striking up a friendship with someone you havent ever met!

On reflection of 2011, it is hard to make a list of what went right in the year, because in fact, a lot went right, and it was all because I started to practice the art of daily gratitude, which in turn caused a positive ripple effect throughout my whole life.

One simple daily act, made 2011 end in a completely different way to how it began.

We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have.”

~ Frederick Keonig

 

 I am linking up with Home life Simplified 52 week Challenge, click on link below to see more (can’t seem to work out how to do this button thing!)

http://www.homelifesimplified.com.au/52-weeks-to-simplify-your-life-syl-week-1/

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