Almost The New Year

Almost The New Year

The Christmas holidays have passed and the New Year is looming close.

It has been exactly one year since I began this blog and I started writing it for many reasons.

One reason is that I was looking for a creative outlet and I love to write.

Another was to share with other empty nesters that life does not end when the children become independent and move out–it is just a new phase of life.

But this blog has developed into more than that.

Along the way, these last twelve months I lightened my load and learned a few things myself.

I decluttered my life and home (although I’ve learned this is an ongoing process) of things I did not need, papers that were no longer useful and in a few instances people that were toxic.

I’ve lost weight, became a certified health coach and am living a healthier lifestyle with good foods, lots of water and exercise.

I gained more space in my house, my heart and my mind. I’ve gained more time and in many instances more peace.

I’ve gained-even more importantly-a great deal of perspective of what is truly important to me and my family.

2018 has been kind to me, but mostly because I have been kind to myself.

I am standing strong in my conviction that if something is not healthy for me-physically, emotionally or spiritually- then it doesn’t need to be in my life.

I am grateful for everyday of this year, even the difficult ones, and I am grateful for the people I share my life with–some close and some far–that have made this year so special.

In a few days we will raise a glass and toast the year that has passed and usher in a new one–

May 2019 bring us all more of the good, less of the bad and the strength and opportunity to continue our journeys.

I hope you all have a Happy New Year!

Another Christmas Story

Another Christmas Story

Christmas movies are made with many different plots, story lines, characters and happy endings. Most Christmas stories are about love.

However, the most important Christmas story of course, is the first one.

I imagine Mary and Joseph making preparations to travel to Bethlehem from Nazareth, to Joseph’s hometown. The trip was a necessary one–to register themselves as a married couple and their baby that was due to be born any day for the census–as was the Roman law at the time.

The trip would have normally taken about 3 days in good weather and under good conditions. But Mary was 9 months pregnant. Travel must have been arduous and slow.

It is no wonder that all the homes were full by others complying with the census law when Joseph and Mary arrived.

And that the only place left would be a lower house where usually the family animals were kept.

By ancient accounts and histories, neither Mary or Joseph looked for any particular assistance or special treatment. Seemingly accepting their fate and destiny.

And so a baby was born that brought salvation to us all.

This is the Christmas story we celebrate each year:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

Luke 2:11-14

This Christmas story is by far the most important and the one that leads us to all others. Why is this story so important? It is a story of hope, peace, family, humility and survival. But most importantly it’s a story about Love.

It’s A Wonderful Life

It’s A Wonderful Life

This time of year has special meaning in our society…not just because of the season, celebrations and traditions but also from the joys we get from watching Christmas movies.

Today I am going to share my favorite Christmas movie with you and its meaning…and in my next post I am going to share my husband’s favorite.

Each of us has a favorite and I’m sure if you think about it you’ll find you have one too!

It’s a Wonderful Life has been my favorite movie for as long as I can remember.

Filmed in 1946 it is a story about a desperate man, George Bailey, who is ready to throw away his life on Christmas Eve because of a crisis in his life.

In the middle of his desperation, George wishes he was never born and God sends down an Angel–Clarence–to grant his wish.

Through the magic of film we see how the lives of many people were irrevocably changed when George Bailey does not exist to save them.

It is a story of a man who spent his life unselfishly helping others–and who in the end, in the most desperate moment of his life, finds that everyone comes to his rescue.

This heartwarming story demonstrates the strength of the human spirit and the frailty of human life.

The importance of family, hard work, strong values and a love of God and country.

It’s a Wonderful Life is my yearly reminder of how fortunate we are in this life, year after year, because of the people who came before us.

While it is not a traditional Santa Claus tale–it is the recounting of the importance of the season because of the promises Jesus gave us.

Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed brought the best of the season to life–the love of community, a commitment to serving others and the importance of a miracle at Christmas.

And it really reminds us that it is a wonderful life!

For This I Am Thankful

For This I Am Thankful

There is nothing like getting older to really put your life in perspective and to show you how to be humble, grateful and thankful for all we have.

And there is no better time than Thanksgiving to reflect and share those thoughts with others.

I am thankful for my family. My mom and dad who gave me life, good examples, education and purpose. My sister, who is not just family but my trusted friend. My husband who travels this journey with me as confidant, companion, friend and champion. Our daughters who have taught us the importance of living. My nieces and nephews that renew my motherhood. And all the other family members and friends who have added to my development and joy to be who I am today.

I am thankful to be an American, to live in a country that is free, strong and prosperous. A country in which we have a right to our lives, our liberty and to pursue our individual happiness.

I am thankful to all our military, past and present, who are willing to lay their life down to preserve the values of our founding fathers and keep our way of life alive.

And I am thankful for God who made all of this possible.

Wherever you are and whoever you are with–Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

5 Steps to Relieving Stress

5 Steps to Relieving Stress

Stress is the body’s way of reacting to and managing threats or strenuous demands on the body.  The more demands or threats we face from day to day the higher our stress levels.  These levels can get so high that it can affect our health–in a very bad way.

Headaches, fatigue, sleep disturbances, and changes in appetite are common side effects of stress.  Continued stress along with these common side effects can cause us to make poor decisions, have or cause accidents and generally spiral out of control until some develop anxiety problems, depressions and other illnesses that cannot be clearly diagnosed.

We must find ways to reduce and learn to cope with the stresses of everyday life.  This may look different to different people because we all handle stress differently.  Here are some sure fire ways to reduce stress in your life that have worked for me.

  1. Let Go.  Let go of toxic people in your life and toxic situations.  You know where you go and who you are around that make you feel stressed.  Limiting or eliminating these people, places or situations will help keep your stress level down.  You don’t have to feel guilty about it (adding more stress), just decide to wish them well and let it go.
  2. Understand that Everything Changes.  Nothing stays the same forever–we know this in our heads and in our hearts. The seasons change, the economy changes and we change as the life around us changes.  To help relieve some of the stress you are feeling just remember that “this too shall pass.”
  3. You Are In Control.  This is your life and you control it. If something is stressing you out on an ongoing basis–you can change it.  No one can dictate how you live your life. If the stress is coming from a financial situation or your work environment you can make the decision and take the steps to make the changes that work for you.
  4. Focus.  Understand and accept the things that are important to you and focus on those things.  Let the noise of all the other stuff going on in the world pass you by. When you keep your focus on the things that really matter–to you–everything else just extra. Keep your focus.
  5. Gratitude. When you have had a particularly stressful day, take a deep breath and think about all the things you are grateful for.  I bet, as you do this exercise, you will find that the things that were stressing you out are not on that list–so refer back to # 1 and #4.

It is so easy to get caught up in the negative energy of others–and that causes a great deal of unnecessary stress, but worse we continue to do the same things with the same people that are causing the major stressors in our lives and expect a different outcome. By using these 5 steps it has helped me cope with stress and learn to change the stressful circumstances.

I hope they work for you too!  Life is too beautiful to be stressed out about stuff that really doesn’t matter!  Happy Friday!

Liberation Day

Liberation Day

Some of the most important things I have learned in life I learned from my parents.

I have been very fortunate to have parents that were always present, involved and encouraging .

They taught me to depend on them while I grew into my own independence.

Likewise, it was my goal, as a parent, to be present and guiding but to make sure my children could stand on their own two feet.

And like my parents, we did a good job because just like I became stubbornly independent in my 20s, so too have the girls become independent.

My dad calls it Liberation Day! It truly was liberating for all of us.

The girls now liberated were taking those first scary steps into adulthood and we, the parents, are also liberated to continue with our lives, goals and dreams outside of parenthood.

But it does not end there. My father in declaring Liberation Day shows his pride in the passing of the torch to the next generation.

So today I celebrate that we have made it to this point in time, with gratitude and high hopes for the future!

Happy Liberation Day!

Six Steps to Happiness

Six Steps to Happiness

One of the good things about being older now is that it gives you a great deal of perspective. Things that seemed so important a few years ago are not as important now.

In the end, what most of us want is to be happy. I say “most” because there are a certain group of people who do not value being happy–and they thrive on making everyone around them as unhappy as they are.

Here are my six steps to happiness–starting with the unhappy people around us.

  1. Stay away from unhappy people!  

There is nothing worse than hanging out or being around unhappy people.  You know who they are–everything is bad, they are bitter about anyone else’s success, calm, or good fortune and they do everything they can to bring you down into pity-land along with them.

Stay away from people like this–they will spread their negativity to you and make you feel down down down.  Not fun!

  1. Let go of the past!

We all make mistakes.  In fact, we are supposed to make mistakes. That is how we learn and grow.  We are also meant to encounter many types of people in this world–that do not have good intentions toward us–this too is so we learn and grow.

Whatever we may have done or has been done to us–we need to leave the past in the past. It will not make us happy to relive bad moments or to treat people in our present badly as if they are going to repeat some hurt from our past.  Get over it–and let it go.

  1. Get out of bed and DO something!

Sleeping late or laying about all day, even when we feel “tired” can bring us down.  Get up, fix the bed and get moving. Getting the blood moving in our bodies make us naturally feel happy–it is the endorphins!

Make a schedule for yourself in which you get up and go to sleep at about the same time everyday and in between do stuff that will help you reach your goals or bring you joy.

  1. Get organized!

Disorganization, clutter and chaos bring unhappiness.  Get your houses in order. Not only is physical clutter and messiness a downer–but so is being disorganized at work, in your relationships and in your financial life.

It is all in your power to fix–fix it!  When everything is in it’s place: stuff, people, goals and money–you will be calm and content and you will feel happy.

  1. Give to others!

It is better to give than to receive.  It is! It always makes us feel better because it serves a purpose for us.  When we give our things away it serves to help us get organized in things we no longer need but that can serve someone else.

When we help others in good deeds it reminds us that we are in a good place where we have the ability to help others and are not in need ourselves.  And it makes us happy.

  1.  Give to yourself!

By giving to yourself I don’t mean go on a massive shopping spree.  I mean give yourself what you need–and what you want–that you know will be in your best interests and make you happy.

Stay away from negative people and situations. Give of yourself but don’t let others take advantage of your goodness. Live in the present and in a space that is clean and nourishing to you.

Happiness is not something that is far away or unattainable. It is right there in front of you–in your power.  You just have to decide that happiness is what you want. Go for it!

What steps are you going to take TODAY to be happy? Comment below or feel free to send an email to emptynestsaavy@gmail.com.

Happy Friday!