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September 2011
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November 2011

words to live by: in the pumpkin patch

Pumpkin patch()


Tomorrow my boyfriend and I will be celebrating our two year anniversary. (And today his sister and her husband are celebrating their wedding anniversary! Happy anniversary to you two!) I'm so happy that we found each other and I couldn't be more grateful to have him in my life. Every year our Halloween-themed activities help us to celebrate our anniversary. Last year we went to the pumpkin patch and that trip inspired me to write the poem below... a poem about fate, about finding what you were looking for, something that was much closer than you thought but that took awhile to connect with because life happens when it's meant to happen and love happens because it's meant to be.  

 

where they rest,
vines surround them
tangled and torn in the dirt,
watching laughter catch in the
autumn light -- twinkling, winking,
as many bound past them
in search of the perfect
orange orb 


by nightfall
they are alone and
stained with fingerprints
left by all of those that turned
each of them over and over again
inspecting, searching, looking
for the marks on the flesh
the imperfections 
the flaws 


bumped by wind 
and wayward brown boots
they have been pushed gently,
heaved swiftly, by warm gloved hands
so now they are nudged next to
to one another, resting warmly,
comfortable in spite of the
frost gathering on vines
and flesh and stem 

vines twisted,
one leans into the other
like a pair of harvested heads
they conspire and whisper, sharing
secrets beneath a star-speckled sky
as they wait in wonder for sunlight
for the certainty of tomorrow,
a new autumn day 


in the pale light 
of morning a sun will soak
them, splattering them with light 
and they will be looked at, turned over,
talked about not as one but as two
a perfect pair of pumpkins
plucked from the patch
and taken home 
together 


I'm wishing you all a very happy, happy Halloween! It's my very favorite day of the year and I hope you enjoy it as much as I know I will. I hope your Halloween -- and every day of your life -- is filled with magic and love. 


5 ways you'll feel good by doing good

Doing good

 

Last weekend I volunteered for my local human society's annual event -- a festive ball and auction to raise money for animals in need. A lot of hard work went into the event -- hours and hours of volunteering and a crazy weekend filled with organizing and assisting at the event -- but every moment was worth it when I knew that all of the effort was going to make the world a better place for some animals in need. 

Though I've volunteered at events before, this was the first one I've felt truly passionate about. It felt like everything I was doing had an impact on the lives of animals and that made every action feel important and meaningful. At times the work was daunting, but in the end it was all worth it to see the success of the event play out. Looking back on it, I'm so glad I was able to be a part of it and I honestly cannot wait to help out with future events. 

Participating in event made me realize how good I feel when I'm doing good. Instead of sitting on my couch watching TV or reading, as I often find myself doing on the weekends, I was making a difference (albeit a small one) in the world this weekend. Because of the event, more dogs and cats will have the care they need. More of them will find homes. More of them will live happier, healthier lives. Helping with the event offered me so many personal rewards and I wanted to share some of them with you in case you're thinking about volunteering for a cause you feel passionately about. 

 

When You Do Good, You'll Feel...  


... inspired.
Being around other people who are spending their time doing something good for the world is truly one of the most inspiring things. You'll probably be around people who do inspiring things for a living (like the people I met who spend every day at the animal shelter) and that will make you feel even more inspired. Doing something good for a good cause is one of the most inspiring things. You will realize that there are many other people out there in the world that want to make it a better place. 

 

... grateful. When you're in a situation where you're donating your time to a cause, it's probably because something or someone needs help. In this case, I was assisting with an event to raise money for animals in need. Hearing about those animals in need made me feel incredibly grateful for my own life -- and for the life I am able to give my pup Bella. No matter what the cause, if you are aware of what your work is benefiting, you will most likely feel incredibly grateful for all of the goodness in your own life. 

... useful. Being a part of this great event made me feel like, even if it was just for a weekend, I was doing something good with my life. I had a purpose and that purpose was to assist with an event that would raise money for animals in need. Feeling as if our lives have purpose is one of the wonderful impacts of being involved in a meaningful volunteer opportunity, and it's not something to be taken lightly. This weekend, it was amazing and inspiring to feel as if what I was doing had a true purpose. 


... connected. For the first time in my life, I was with a group of people who really got how I felt about animals. I've certainly met animal-lovers before, but to be in a room full of people who feel as passionately about helping animals as I do was truly a wonderful feeling. Whatever cause you choose to support, it's such a great feeling to be around other people who support the cause that you feel strongly about. Feeling connected to complete strangers is a rare occurrence and something to be enjoyed. 


... hopeful. When working with a group of people who are inspired and motivated by a single cause, you almost can't help but be hopeful. Though it might seem like you're only impacting a small corner of the world when you're working on one event for one cause, you'll find yourself filled with hope because you know that all over the world -- in all of the other little corners -- there are other people doing good things to make something -- maybe just one thing -- a little better. 

 

These are just a few of the benefits I received from working at this event. Most importantly, volunteering for this event has motivated me to want to help in other ways. It's inspired me to want to become even more involved in making a difference. If you're thinking about volunteering or donating to cause that means something to you, I'd highly recommend it. Not only will you be helping others, but you're helping to make your own life a more positive one. Don't know where to volunteer? Check out VolunteerMatch.org for inspiration. Believe me, I know how easy it is to say you don't have time or you don't know what you'd be able to help with, but trust me -- there is something you can do. Remember: it only takes one person to make a difference. 


want to be positive + present? get some zzz's

Sleep()


Sleep is one of those things -- like food or air -- that most of us don't give too much thought to until we're without it. When you have no trouble sleeping, sleep doesn't seem like a topic to deserve much thought. However, when you can't sleep, that lack of rest can impact everything in your life. Whether you realize it or not, sleep is a crucial element of living a positive, present life. When you're exhausted, it's pretty hard to be positive. And it's also hard to be present as well. Your mind wanders, you can feel disoriented. Staying positive in the present becomes very difficult when you're tired. 

To live the best possible life, you need to make sure you're rested and ready for whatever comes your way. If you've ever had trouble sleeping and looked for ideas online, I'm sure you've come across countless articles (and even entire sites!) dedicated to the topic of finding rest. I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but I've been a pretty decent sleeper most of my life. I have my nights where sleep eludes me, but those nights are rare, so I've come up with five tips -- S.L.E.E.P. -- that I've used over the years to help me sleep. Hopefully they can help you the next time you find yourself lying awake pondering whether or not counting sheep might actually work...

 

Schedule your sleep. Seems like a silly thing to do, but just like you schedule your meals, your workouts, or your time spent with friends, you should also schedule your sleep time. I personally strive to go to sleep every night at 10pm -- and I rarely miss that deadline. If you schedule your sleep like you would another appointment in your life, you'll help yourself stay on track and you'll (hopefully) get yourself to bed at reasonable hour.

Limit sources of stimulation. You've heard it before: before you go to bed, don't consume caffeine or sugar; don't watch television or play video games; don't go to the gym. Yes, this advice is pretty unoriginal, but it really is worth listening to. Whatever pumps you up -- whether it be a substance or an activity -- avoid it for at least a few hours before bedtime. For some added sleep help, try doing something that calms you down -- drinking decaf tea, taking a bubble bath, reading a book, etc.

Eliminate distractions. Just as you should rid your life of stimulation when you are trying to get some rest, you must also eliminate all elements that might distract you from sleep. Turn off or silence your cell phone. Stop checking email so you don't become stressed about the next day's to-do list. Ask your friend or family members to save potentially stressful conversations for the next day. Whatever you need to do to elminate distractions from your life so you can focus on sleeping, do it.

Engage four of your senses. When I was a kid, my cousin shared this tip with me: if you're having trouble falling asleep, tune into your senses. Instead of letting worries fill your mind, instead think about what you can hear, feel, smell, taste. (But ignore what you see -- you need to keep your eyes closed!) Whenever I do this exercise, I always find that I fall asleep. Something about being fully present and not allowing my mind to wander too much helps to ease me into a restful state.

Put yourself in an odd spot. This last one I can't guarentee. The only person I know who has tried it is me -- but it seems to work like a charm! When I'm having trouble sleeping, I'll lie on my back. Since I'm a side sleeper, this isn't a comfortable way for me to sleep and the longer I lie like that, the more my body wants to get into a comfortable position. When I finally allow myself to roll over, my body seems grateful and is almost always ready for sleep.

 

Whether you're consciously aware of it or not, sleep is essential when it comes to experiencing a positive day. The less sleep you get, the unhappier you become. To make the most of every day, strive to get the sleep you need (from what I've read, the "right" amount is different for everyone so experiment until you find the number of hours that are right for you). And if you're struggling to get to sleep, give some of these tips a try. They've certainly worked for me!