100 Smile Challenge: 3 Steps to a Happy Valentine’s Day…Even if You’re Newly Single

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening, that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost.”

Martha Graham
US choreographer & dancer (1894 – 1991)

Today is Valentine’s Day, often considered a day for lovers.  For those of us newly single on this day we may feel like it is not a day for us, but on this Valentine’s Day I encourage you to challenge that thought and create a new mindset that blesses you and the treasures in your life.

Step 1:  Release those who are not blessing your life.  My last honey blessed me this Valentine’s with a break up text (a series of them), I blessed myself back with a new phone number.  The last thing I needed today was more heartbreaking texts. Today let go of those who behave in ways that break you.  You deserve better and will only get better when you create space for that upgrade.

Step 2:  Bless Yourself.  Today be your own Valentine.  Buy yourself your favorite flowers, chocolate, and that piece of jewelry you really want.  Or pamper yourself with a pedicure, massage, or a glorious soak in a bubble bath.  You are a treasure, do something wonderful for you.  Yesterday, after those lovely texts, I left lunch with my best friend and hit the garden center.  I filled all the pots on my porches with a beautiful array of spring flowers.

Step 3:  Bless Others.  There are other people in your life who need to hear that you love them, appreciate them, and/or are grateful for them.  Today is the perfect day to release that expression as only you can.  So on your way into the office stop by the bakery and pick up treats for you co-workers, take a friend to lunch, make a special dinner for your family.  Put your love, appreciation and gratitude into action today and bless the life of others as only you can do.  I’ll be stopping by the bakery on my way into the office and I have a special dinner planned for my daughter and I.

Today release those who bring you down, bless yourself, and express your love, gratitude and appreciation of others.  You’re expression is unique and blesses those in your life as only you can.  Embrace Valentine’s Day with a healthy mindset, use today as a reminder to bless yourself and the treasures in your life.


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100 Smile Challenge: 5 Ways to Compliment Yourself

“When you cannot get a compliment any other way pay yourself one.”

Mark Twain
US humorist, novelist, short story author, & wit (1835 – 1910)

When you are feeling down and in need of encouragement it is important to know how to lift yourself back up. Try one or all five of the below tips to create your smiles today.

Acknowledge Your Strengths.  You have an arsenal of strengths, qualities, and capabilities that are unique to you.  These are your tools in life.  This combination of tools makes you unlike any other.  These are what people hire you for, why people seek your companionship, and what you are admired for.  Take 5 minutes to write down 5 of your strengths and compliment yourself for developing such a great arsenal of life tools.

Go to Your Smile Log.  Part of the 100 Smile Challenge is to create a list, photo album, or collage of what makes you smile.  I keep a photo album on Facebook of the things, people, ideas, memories, and places that make me smile.  I add to it whenever I think of something to add.  If you do not have a smile log, please create one today so when you are down you can go to your smile log for a reminder of the things that make you smile.

Get Grateful. The quickest way out of a funk is to be grateful.  Even when a situation has not worked out as you wanted there are blessings there to be counted and gratitude to be acknowledged.  Count your blessings, thank God for the air you are breathing, and find the perspective of gratitude for all life’s blessings and lessons.

Attract.  I believe what we focus on we attract into our lives.  If you focus on the negative you will find negative all around you.  If you set a positive intention, put positive energy into it, and take inspired action you will attract the positive result you seek.

Care for Wonderful YOU.  My favorite way to compliment myself is to take care of myself.  When I am emotionally drained I get a massage and energy work performed by a gifted therapist.  Bodywork should always include caring touch.  That caring touch is a lifter of spirits, giver of energy, and cleanser of mental clutter.  If you need a pick-me-up make an appointment for a massage, pedicure, haircut, or something else that involves caring for you.

Today’s 100 Smile Challenge:  We all have times when we are alone and need to pick ourselves back up.  Give a few of these suggestions a try, then record what works best for you into your smile log.

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100 Smile Challenge: You Will Smile Again

“Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward the life that God intended for you with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.”

Og Mandino
(1923 – 1996)

I know sometimes it is hard to simply smile.  There was one specific day in my life I remember so clearly when I was so down and seemingly unprepared for the path my life was moving in I thought I would never smile again.

I remember walking in downtown Seattle when a street person saw me and said “Smile.  It’s not going to be that bad.”

Well, obviously he was right.  I just needed time to process what was happening in my life, count it as the blessing it was, and remember that God had me in His hands.

It was then that I was able to face the new beginning with grace, strength, courage, and confidence.  Ok, I faked those at times, but I moved forward. And that thing that was overwhelming me turned out to be the greatest blessing ever in my life.  My path was not easy, and some people chose to not stick by me, but I was richly blessed.

Today if you find yourself in one of those places where you are finding it difficult to smile and move forward embrace the quote that started out this post.  Count your blessings, get into a state of gratitude, and remember there is a higher power who is ready to help you through this next phase of your life.  You will smile again very soon, trust me you really will.  🙂

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100 Smile Challenge: 5 Ways to Share Abundantly

“Share your M&Ms. There are bags and bags of them all over the place. If you give them one of yours, even one of the green ones, you will not be lacking. Honust Injun. Now apply this to Time, Concern, Touch, Interest and Being Vulnerable.”

Hugh Elliott, Standing Room Only weblog, 02-14-03
Author of the Standing Room Only Weblog (http://blogs.salon.com/0001573/).

Sharing without lack is a life changing concept.  Today share as though sharing opens a flow of more positives into your life.  Today share yourself in one or all of the below 5 ways.

Time. In today’s on the run world it is easy to get stingy with our time.  Giving others our time is a gift to them and to us, but if you find yourself wondering how you will ever create more time to give, try this experiment.  Ask the universe to expand your time so you can give to others who need you, maintain your relationships, follow your inspirations, and get all the things you need done completed.  I don’t know why I forget to do this so often or why this works at all.  Does time really expand or does my “I have all the time I need and more mindset” help me release the time drains and use my time more beneficially?  Give this a try and let me know if you are able to expand your time.

Concern.  How many times have you heard a comment from a friend, but you did not have the time or energy to give to them at that moment?  How many times have you felt a nagging to call someone just to check in and chat, but did not call, only to later find out they probably could have used your concern at that time.  Has there ever been a time when you felt a concern for another person, but put it aside instead of expressing it.  Today follow those gentle and not so gentle tugs at your intuition with a phone call or text, coffee break, or date on your non-date night.

Touch.  As a single woman touch is something that lacks in my life.  Although I do not consider myself to be a “touchy” person, at times I long for a tender touch, a held hand, someone to snuggle with, or a hug.  There is positive energy in a welcomed touch. Today follow your instincts and appropriately touch a friend with a welcoming hug, a hand on theirs during a conversation, or a fun tap on the arm after a joke.

Interest.  Now I know sometimes it is difficult to show interest for some who may drone on about a topic you care little about.  But today make even those conversations less about the topic and more about the individual.  Ask about the individual and actively listen.  Sometimes people use a conversation about stuff to blockade themselves from true connection.  Today show real interest in those you talk to.  Do not talk about the weather unless you are planning a picnic or some other outdoor activity.  When you ask “how are you today?” slow down, make eye contact, and be interested in their response.  Share your interest and watch your relationships flourish.

Being Vulnerable.  This one can be scary, but it is also a game changer.  I believe when a person knows how to love you they also know how to hurt you.  And once we allow someone into our lives we also allow them to choose to love us or hurt us.  Being vulnerable is entrusting another with our emotions.  The payoff can be spectacular, devastating, or somewhere in between.  Our outer response is within our control, but the inner response is harder to control.  However, being vulnerable reveals who we are dealing with and allows us to grow as individuals.  Today open your heart, your thoughts, and yourself to others.  If this is a scary request, try it with those you trust only.  May the love you receive back transition you to a place of confidence.

Sharing of ourselves is a kindness, peace and love multiplier.  The more we share the more we inspire others to share.  Slow down, give of yourself, and watch your positive energy flow to and through those you connect with today.

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100 Smile Challenge: 5 Strategies for Creating Your In-Home Retreat

Today, January 30, is National Escape Day.

“When you get right down to it, what we all need is a place to go… A place where we can escape the noise of our lives and just relax.”

Takayuki Ikkaku, Arisa Hosaka and Toshihiro Kawabata, Animal Crossing: Wild World, 2005

Today’s 100 Smile Challenge is to find your place of escape and go to it for at least 15 minutes today.

One of the goals I have for my home is to create a feeling of retreat.  I want my home to be a place if security, comfort, rejuvenation and inspiration.

One of the ways I do this is through comfort zones in and around my home.  Places where comfort and beauty intersect.  Now I live in a 100-year-old fixer upper so don’t for a minute think my home has reached its goal, but as I fix up sections slowly I consider these 5 Strategies for Creating an In-Home Retreat.  If you are looking to create or enhance your place of escape consider each of these and bring more of it to your place of comfort and rejuvenation. 

Comfort.  A few things to consider here is the comfort of your seating, have seating that allows you to sit in a position you favor and a seat that comfortably supports your body.  Ensure a comfortable body temperature with a snuggly throw or fan.  Bring a beverage that nourishes you and supports the environment you are creating.  For me that is typically a steamy cup of coffee or tall glass of ice water.

Nature.  Nature is very grounding to the soul. If you can not see or be in the outdoors consider adding a houseplant or cut flowers in a beautiful vase. 

Light.  Consider the lighting of your retreat zone.  What lighting is necessary and what lighting feeds your soul?  Sunlight, candle light, the glow from a fireplace, and the color from the lightbulb are all things to consider. What lighting will allow you to relax and recharge?

Peace.  Finding a place free of physical and mental clutter is critical.  If clutter is an issue in your home make it a priority to keep your comfort zone clutter free.  What do you hear from your place of comfort?  Do you need to add a smoothing music to drown out distractions from other areas inside or outside of your home?

Mindset.  Mindset is critical.  No matter what you do to your environment if your state of mind is chaotic, negative, or resistant you will not find the comfort you seek.  Each time you go to your comfort zone, take a few deep cleansing breaths and tell your subconscious that now is the time to relax and this is the space.

Today as you prepare to take the 100 Smile Challenge and escape for 15 minutes or more consider the 5 Strategies for Creating Your In-Home Retreat. What can you do to enhance your experience and find your smile today?

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100 Smile Challenge: Harness the Power of Kindness

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.”

Leo Buscaglia, US author & lecturer (1925 – 1998)

Too often we underestimate the power of kindness.  Today’s 100 Smile Challenge is to harness the power of the little acts of kindness that bring smiles to you and those you interact with today.  Implement a few of these kindness harnessing tips and watch the smiles grow.

A touch.  There is energy in touch.  Share your positive energy with someone today by sharing a hug, a gentle touch, a held hand, or a kiss.

A smile.  Smiles are contagious, infect those around you, make eye contact with all you pass today and share a smile.

A kind word.  Let those you care about know you care today.  An “I love you”, a “Thank you”, a “That sweater looks good on you, it compliments your eye color” could be exactly what someone needs today.

A listening ear.  Listen with out judgement, pre-conceived notions, or providing advice.  Listen with kindness and ask what the other needs from you today.

An honest compliment.  A sincere compliment will brighten the day of any receiver.  Keep the compliment sincere, specific and without expectations.

The smallest act of caring. Every day presents opportunities to make life easier for another person.  Be on the look out of those little things and make one of them your thing.

Today’s 100 Smile Challenge:  So much of the time it is the littlest things that make the biggest impact on our lives.  Today harness the little acts of kindness for they have the potential to turn a life around. 

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100 Smile Challenge: Today is Peanut Brittle Day

Today, January 26, is Peanut Brittle Day.

It is amazing how seeming little things can trigger memories that evoke emotions.  Today is Peanut Brittle Day.  I remember Peanut Brittle as my dads’ candy of choice when I was a kid.  So today makes me think of my father.  My father disowned me several years ago; we have a different viewpoint on a very important topic and can not resolve our differences.

WOW…I actually typed that out.

Anyway…a couple years ago I decided to start dating again.  My daughter was older, I had more time of my own, and I thought I might be ready for love again.  This time I was ready to get all into a relationship with an available man…nobody just getting divorced or living in a foreign country this time.  However, my heart was not really ready.  I did not realize how my relationship with my father was affecting me until a man tried to love me.  There were certainly aspects of this new relationship that pressed some hot buttons for me, but these were buttons I needed to deal with.  Over the course of the last year and a half I have been resolving my hurts from my broken relationship with my father.  I even tried to mend the fence with my father, but received no response from him.

Over the year and a half I have off and on dated one man and had a few consistent girlfriends who have been by my side and heard it all.  Today I thank those who have been there for me through this passage.  It certainly was not easy for me, but they all had a way of guiding me, pushing me, and holding my hand through it. 

We all have those people in our lives; those who help us through, who show us things are really not as bad as we are making them, and those who tell us to take an honest look at things even when it hurts.

Today’s 100 Smile Challenge is to thank those who have stood with us through the trials of life.  Thank those we run to when we need to talk, those who make us talk when we want to shut down, and those who love us even when we challenge them to do so.  Today let’s be grateful for those God has brought into our lives, they all arrive for a purpose, and they all arrive with gifts for our souls.  Each person is a blessing, if they are here for a lifetime or just a temporary stay.

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