Thankful Holiday Exercise

This past Thanksgiving, I wanted my family to partake in my journey of reflection. I didn’t want to force or leave anyone out of the exercise if they felt uncomfortable participating. Instead I told them I would start it off by expressing my gratitude for having each one in my life. I wrote a “Thank-you” note for each person at the dinner table.

"Thank you" Cards

Gartner Studios “Card Crafting Line”

Every note was specific to each person yet broad enough that anyone else in the room could relate to each one and apply it to the same recipient or another person. Needless to say they were all teary-eyed by the end of the readings and my family thanked me for having surprised them with it.

This past week I was thinking about doing it again for Easter, on April 20. Only this time I would include a couple hershey kisses and colorful eggs! And because of the positive reaction I received from my family I would like to include my close friends as well.

I felt amazing after it. I did something for myself and others. It didn’t cost me that much, instead I would say it took more time to write what I wanted to express. That I found to be the challenging part although it was such a rewarding task.

I would encourage you to try it. Even if its done randomly and not around a holiday. You’ll love it!

Props to Sarah Kathaleen Peck’s Grace & Gratitude Course

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Brain Pickings, a 21st-century library

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Imagine being introduced to millions of books and authors and be hooked by just the introduction… well that’s exactly what Brain Pickings is all about!

I came across it years ago while creating my summer-list-of-books-to-read (what a mouth full!) Well what I found was a bottomless treasure chest. On the site I found a Holstee Manifesto Poster which immediately caught my attention… Image

This resonated with me. After a week of going back-and-forth to the website I decided to subscribe to Brain Pickings’ newsletter.

To this day, every sunday mornings my inbox pings and I am excited to see the highlights of the week.

Maria Popova is the curiosity architect behind Brain Pickings. She is the muscle behind this project! The best thing about it is that she believes to keep the focus off her. She has her hands full with working at Lore as the editorial director as well as keeping a healthy balanced life!

I want to share her story on Networked Knowledge and Combinatorial CreativityTake sometime to watch it and really get a feel for what she is trying to say. It is very important that we acknowledge the change in which we are learning. The information is online and accessible in various forms.

That is the idea that creativity is combinatorial, that nothing is entirely original, that everything builds on what came before, and that we create by taking existing pieces of inspiration, knowledge, skill and insight that we gather over the course of our lives and recombining them into incredible new creations.

 And that is the desire to matter in the world, to be seen, to know that our existence makes a difference, that our creative and intellectual labor is of value to the world.

Brain Pickings 

Italian American Women Research Project

What Samantha R. DeMuro is doing is cool. Beyond that.  I’m actually jealous I didn’t think of this idea for Colombian American Women!

Anyways here’s the low down on this crazy ancestry research project focused on ITALIAN AMERICAN WOMEN.

The goal is to provide an open online space to share  stories through photos, videos, and words.

What does it mean to be an Italian American Woman? Can you separate these identities? Through talking with Italian American Women, this project aims to challenge and expand narratives on gender, sexuality, culture, identity, and who we are

We were discussing  why she started and it was her Grandmother who inspired her to explore her Italian roots. She has been able to connect hundreds of people on Facebook. It’s quite inspiring how this small connection can bring so many together.

Twitter & Instagram are used for #WhatItalianWomenSay and I was curious to know what she has found to come up the most.

Curly hair problems!

I laughed! I have the same issue!

What I love about her project is that she is passionate. Even though I may not be Italian, it makes me wonder of the the different roles Colombian women have held and how far along we have come. I was born in Colombia but raised in the United States. I have always thought of myself as Colombian-American. But what does that really mean? Since learning about Sam’s project I’ve started to investigate the ladies in my family!

Seriously if you’re Italian, or not go check out her website and her bio.

Sam's a really interesting person and very approachable!

Sam’s a really interesting person and very approachable!

Twitter: @ItalianWomenSay 

Facebook: Italian Women Project

Pinterest: Italian Women Say

Instagram: Italian Women Say

Website: Italian American Women Research Project

My Quarter Life Crisis… LOL not kidding!

My quarter-life crisis began in July, six months before I turned 25. I began to think about where I was at that point and where I was heading. I did this mostly at work. I was working full-time for Apple Retail and celebrating my 5th appleversary in October. I was also going to school full-time and working out twice-a-day. So to say the least I was burnt out! I lost track of what my priorities were and where I was actually heading in all aspects of my life. December was creeping up and I felt like I had not met any of my goals so far.

Paul Angone wrote 25 Signs You Are Having a Quarter-Life Crisis  (check it out and let me know which ones you relate to!)

My Top #5:

1. “Am I ever going to feel like myself again?” Is something you ask. Every day.
2. Visualizing yourself 15 years from now doing your bosses job makes you throw up a little in your mouth.
3. You’re 99.7% sure a road-trip would fix everything
4. You glare at your cat in the morning as you get ready for work and say, “God, I wish I had your life.” (my two dogs!)
5. You surf the internet so much at work every day that you literally hit a point where you don’t know what else to search for.

I needed a time-out!

In reality I did achieve more then I had thought! in late August/September I retrieved all my notes that I had kept of my goals, progress, achievements, and emotions. I guess you can say similar to a diary although I’ve tried writing and documenting in many forms. For my personal goals I’ve made maps, large maps of how I see my life at the moment and where I’d like to be. I’ve also read through and applied a ton of exercises from Life After College by Jenny Blake. I love her. She is brilliant and every young adult going into college, or in college, or the ages from 18-25 need to explore her website and book. She really breaks everything, life, down. Into manageable categories and tasks. When she launched the book in NYC I made sure I was there to meet her and thank her. She was such a sweetheart!

Ok so here was the reality of this mental breakdown. I hit a wall because I had forgotten to develop myself. I was a lead trainer in my store and a market facilitators (fancy titles meaning I trained my peers and did on-boarding.) I was so focused on helping others develop within the company that I neglected myself!

What I did next…. I left Apple! I was about to turn 25 and I felt I needed to explore more of the world. Not travel the world, even though that would be nice, but actually see the my surrounding world differently. I am learning that you do not need to travel far to experience an adventure. Currently I am fully emerged in learning all about the Russian and Deaf culture (we’ll leave those details for another day!) I am freelancing my skills that I have acquired through out my experiences and I am connecting with influential individuals in different fields! Who would’ve known! Don’t get me wrong I was so afraid and unsure of what was going to happen when I gave my two weeks in!

Although I strategically left my full-time job. I saved up enough income to hold me over a couple months and continued to Intern (not much $$$ but it helped!) I realized my main priority was to finish my BA. I’m almost done and ready for the next step.. my masters!

Jenny Blake NYC Life After College Book Launch!

Jenny Blake NYC Life After College Book Launch! If you want to get ideas flowing go ahead and try out Jenny Blake’s 13 Thought-Starters for the Year Ahead It’ll help I promise!

I’d love to hear your story or other ways in which have helped you organize and plan out your goals/thoughts.

xo

And here is why…

Over the winter I participated in Sarah Kathleen Peck’s “Grace + Gratitude: a two week journey for the heart, mind, and soul.” I was very honest with her about not being able to do each task in the time frame of the class and her response was truly amazing and what I needed.

“I tried to design it so that if you were on a subway or in between classes, you could still read and enjoy the essays and stories, and just that would be a little trigger to start your thinking to open up during the day.”

I am doing this a little different this time around. I am going to be open and share my experiences. My goal is to continue this journey more then 14 days. And to also create a connection with my readers and make new friends!

Feel free to comment and/or answer the question.

What does gratitude mean to you? In what ways do you practice gratitude in your life right now?

To me, it means, to be aware of what you have and had and be thankful for it. Reflection plays an important role in gratitude. We must reflect about our experiences and interactions in order to understand the significance role it played in our life. I make connections with what I am doing or what is currently happening in my life and how I got to that point. It helps to remind myself of key people that I have encountered and befriended.

This is a recent phenomenon as I started to question why I do things or why I was feeling the way I was.

I believe actively practicing gratitude can be difficult and lost in the shuffle of life. For a while last year I was lost and couldn’t figure out where I was headed which caused me to ignore other areas of my life. I actually wasn’t sure what I was grateful for. It wasn’t till I did some soul searching and faced my fears. I’ll admit it did not happen right away! I made one of the biggest decisions in leaving my steady secure job at Apple. I had just celebrated my fifth year! But I needed to do it for myself. I craved something different plus my priorities had changed. Finishing my undergrad was #1 on my list. So I made the plunge.

This was my first holiday since I can last remember I did not work in retail. I was actually home and available to my family. It was the holidays and the family gatherings that brought me to this journey of self-reflection.

One of my responsibilities at Apple was to be a mentor and resource to my team. I truly believe you earn that right with your peers. It is not a role that can be simply handed to someone. Trust and rapport are critical components. Both traits I hope to gain with my fellow readers. In terms of being a resource for my readers, I will post readings, videos, music, or documents to share.

This blog is one way that I will be continuing my practice of gratitude in my life.