#43 Create a Romantic Road Map

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#43

Create a Romantic Road Map

Did you have a year end review with your boss? Did you review goals and set new ones? Do you have a workout plan? Have you made a commitment to work out or lose weight? Are you in school? Do you know exactly what classes you need to complete in order to meet your objective? These are common ambitions at the beginning of the year and yet I find that very few people turn the same attention to their romantic relationships.

Long Term Growth

Your relationship is a long term objective. It requires nurturing and effort and as such, it will benefit from all the energy you commit in designing a plan for its own specific growth and development. Indeed, those that are ignored rarely flourish.

Making a Road map

Where do you see yourself as a couple? What do you have in common? What are your individual growth aspirations? How are you supporting one another in achieving them? When do you spend time together and what do you do? How have your needs changed? Do you have savings goals? Projects to complete? All of these questions can be a springboard in helping you design your relationship road map.

Togetherness

Of course, in designing this road map, you’ll want to do it together. You may want to individually craft some ideas to save time and then blend them together in a more organized manner that moves you toward a common theme. The most important element of the road map is a clear plan to GROW your relationship. Defining dedicated time together is perhaps, the most common mistake that couples make and it’s apparent when the show up for relationship counseling.

Follow the Map

As with any effort of getting to a new place, we seldom end up there randomly. It’s important to have a plan and follow it – even if you get sidetracked. In fact, it’s helpful to have a plan B or some contingencies that will offer some breathing room for you to get back on track. We can’t always plan for the things that life dishes out but knowing that we’ve dedicated some energy to knowing how to stay focused on the end game is helpful.

Grab your partner, a tablet and pen, a cuppa coffee or glass of wine, and devote a few hours to designing the map of your romance. Keep it alive and well by…

Creating a romantic road map.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#57 Visit a Zoo

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#57

Visit a Zoo

I was able to walk through the Central Park Zoo on a warm spring day last year and really loved being there. The last Zoo I had visited was when the kids were young and we had an annual pass to the Philadelphia Zoo which, after falling in love with the San Diego Zoo… was a disappointment. We bought the annual passes because I am a big believer in educating children about animals, especially those that aren’t house pets.

Controversy

Zoo’s have had a difficult time in recent years. There was a lot of publicity about the mistreatment of animals, poor conditions, and lack of funding for several zoos across the country – leading a lot of people to abandon the idea of visiting animals there. It was a difficult decision to support an endeavor that wasn’t meeting minimum standards versus being there to send loving energy their way and introducing a younger generation to the benefits of saving endangered species.

Benefits

When a zoo is managed and funded efficiently, it offers a plethora of benefits both to the animals there and to the surrounding society.

Zoos connect animals to people in a way that is no longer viable in most urban cultures. We simply don’t get the opportunity to see Buffalo, Elk, or Giraffes running across our sight line. Indeed, we barely see turtles and fox unless you live close to farms and water. Visiting a zoo offers you an opportunity to experience this life form no matter your environment.

Zoos fight against wildlife extinction. They are staffed by professionals committed to the survival and propagation of species. They often collaborate with one another to solve urbanization issues that prevent the animals from organically sustaining their population.

Zoos educate the public and seek to attract benefactors that are committed to helping and sponsoring continued advocacy. The inspire children, teach differences, and motivate respect for animals in general.

Time spent

Of course, spending time at a zoo is a great family activity. There are usually wonderful programs to take advantage of and it just nice to stroll through the property to see something new and different than before. Being in a zoo can be a ‘getting back to nature’ in an odd sort of way; there’s always a little dichotomy to this as you walk from one kind of habitat to another. It may challenge your senses.

Being in a zoo as a single individual may offer you some great ‘me time’… time away from civilization but inside the energy of living beings. It can provide an opportunity to sit back and savor the simplicity of a lions walk across the stone or to observe the complicated maneuvers of barn swallows as they nest in the rafters of an Avian center.

Modern Energy

After the horrific zoo experiences identified in the past, I believe we’ve come to a better place and the zoo’s of America are a thoughtful, instructional, and compassionate playground for animals that people get to enjoy. If you haven’t been in a while, go ahead and treat yourself – if not your entire family and …

Visit a Zoo.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#58 Build a Sandcastle

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#58

Build a Sandcastle

Hopefully, it’s not 30 degrees where you are currently… making this suggestion sound utterly ridiculous and unattainable for several months. If it’s a bit warmer, it may actually be the perfect time to try this happiness tip because the beaches are probably mostly deserted and/or there’s bound to be a sandbox that could use a little TLC this time of year.

Why?

Building a sandcastle may be an activity that epitomizes childhood. We don’t seem to care how many crooks and crevices get filled with sand when we are children and believe it or not – it works our brain.

Cooperation

Most of us don’t build sandcastles alone. When we enlist the help of others, we are automatically thrown into the task of cooperation. It’s a great way for children to learn how to cooperate and for others to delegate. It’s a useful opportunity for a group of people to see how individual efforts contribute to a bigger project and outcome.

Creativity

It may be obvious that building a sandcastle employs a certain level of creativity. Most of us have not studied castle structure or architecture and so we are building based on memory of books and television; maybe even solely from our imagination. We have the opportunity to design anything that we fancy and so it’s a great outlet for creativity.

Spatial Skill

It’s a time when dimension, volume, and depth become important to the overall task. It forces us incorporate vision and make adjustments for scale – at least a little. Our brains will naturally attempt to make modifications when an element is too distorted and so it is good practice for spatial awareness.

Sensory and Motor Skill

Working in the sand engages your brain in a couple of other interesting ways. Our senses are often intrigued with the juxtaposition of water and sand and even more so when they are combined to create an entirely different texture. It’s a great time to be intentional and savor the experience. Additionally, there’s a certain level of motor skill involved; both gross and fine. Shoveling sand to build a mound and then carving the sand for detail uses different muscles as well as different areas of your brain.

Family Time

I’ve outlined why building sandcastles is good for your brain and dexterity. It’s also a fantastic family experience and it doesn’t have to be a summer beach day in order to enjoy it. A sandbox in the backyard or in the park can be accessed at any time and if you can get past the idea of sand covered clothing (it is easier to wash off with a dip in the ocean) ~ it’s a wonderful treat for the entire family.

Treat yourself to a free play day by getting outside in the fresh air and …

Build a sandcastle.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#68 Take a Cooking Class

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#68

Take a Cooking Class

Are you looking for a last minute gift for that family gathering or birthday? Are you wondering how to change up your date nights? This suggestion may be just the thing that sparks a new passion or a shared interest.

Cooking classes are for cooks of any ability. They are not to be confused with culinary schools as they are typically range from just a couple of hours, a full day, or at most – a week. They are generally designed to introduce you to a new skill, new ingredients, and new methods.

Hometown

It’s likely that there’s a local opportunity for you to take a cooking class if you live in or near a major metropolitan area. A quick google search for a location in Baltimore returned several options. The Schola Cooking school offers technique classes ranging from butter making to bread baking and from sushi to fresh pasta. You can take classes that focus on Cuban cuisine or treats from the sea.

Destinations

If you don’t live near a major city and/or you want the options of a specific location, consider a destination getaway with the intent specifically to take a cooking class. What a great thing to do for a girls weekend, a bachelorette celebration, or a mother/daughter day out. It could be an anniversary event that you do together and carry the skills home as a shared interest.

International

Do you love Italian or French food and want to learn local favorites or from an infamous internationally acclaimed chef? A trip abroad for the purpose of learning cuisine from that region is a great reason to plan a trip. Like schools in the states, international classes are designed for all levels of knowledge and can accommodate the most uneducated beginners.

Even if all you really want to do is eat well, consider grabbing a friend and …

Take a cooking class.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#79 Go to the Library

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#79

Go to the Library

In this digital age of Kindle and e-readers and Amazon’s ability to deliver hard copy books to us in 48 hours or less, our jaunts to the library are far and few between for most of us. What was once a weekly trek to replace the books that I’d devoured in in short time has become a rare occurrence. Sadly, I must admit that it’s my loss – not taking the time to enjoy browsing the rows of hard bound books – running my fingers along the spines and choosing carefully, a new book to read.

Libraries appeal to our senses in a way the a laptop connected to the internet never can.

Aromas

There’s something whole-hearted about being in a library. That smell, the aroma of paper and glue, of dust and ink. If it was a glass of wine it may have hints of acidity and grass or vanilla and smoke. The old ones are my favorite as that old inviting scent seems to have permeated the walls.

Comfort

They seem to have more nooks and crannies that allow you to hide, or escape with a book. It’s one of my favorite places to go if I need to concentrate on a project as I hope that the collective wisdom, represented by the volumes of information will guide me.

Sounds

The hushed quiet is reassuring in some way. It’s as if we must be still in order to absorb what our eyes are experiencing. The complimentary noises of books opening and closing, of being moved around on the shelves, and of people searching connects to our brain in a way that may remind it to scour for its own collection of information. It’s as if sitting in a library reminds us to dig deeper into our own knowledge banks.

History

There’s a bit of history in libraries that has yet to be captured by the world wide web. Certainly, we’re not yet at the point where each and every book has been scanned electronically. There are historical collections of newspapers, magazines, and lessor known copy that exist in libraries – especially the larger ones – that can offer a historical perspective unavailable in our technology. There’s something magical about holding a book published in 1940 and understanding that it’s been moved around our culture and literally shared by thousands of people since. Touching it connects you to that history – joining your combined energy and adding your own historical fingerprint.

If we don’t make the effort to continue to support these institutions, they will disappear and the world will lose part of its vitality; an element of its heartbeat. So, the next time you pass by… make the effort and take some time to…

Go to the library.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#83 Go Ahead and Veg

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#83

Go Ahead and Veg

Do you know how to relax? Do you feel guilty or restless when you spend time doing ‘nothing’? It may be time for you to learn to let go and experience the pleasure of ‘veg’ing’ once in awhile.

Define

According to Urban Dictionary – to “Veg” means to “relax all day”, or to “be in a vegetative state”.  Most people think of this in terms of ‘doing nothing’ or ‘not accomplishing anything’ and I can’t help but wonder why most of us are so compelled to constantly ‘be accomplishing’ something.

I suppose we should also now clarify what it means to ‘relax’. The concept is easily considered if we imagine spending a day on the beach with our feet in the sand, a good book in our hand, and our mind fully content listening to the surf and seagulls. For some reason, we give ourselves permission to spend the day on the beach ‘vegging’ but deny ourselves that relaxation when we are at home.

Rest

Some might argue that in contemporary societies, we simply do not rest enough. Many studies have pointed out the perils of sleep deprivation with attention to the fact that it is at epidemic levels in the American society. Sleep then, would be the most beneficial way to obtain rest but so too… is fostering one’s ability to ‘veg’. This is a time when we are absolutely not focused on those things which could be linked to daily stressor items; work, money, family, etc. It may be reading a nonsense fiction book, or sitting on the deck birdwatching, or channel surfing – any activity at produces a resting heart rate and allows your mind, body, and soul to be on auto mode.

Recharge

Vegging helps you recharge. It settles your body and brain from the demanding performance levels one frequently experiences day-to-day. It is a ‘plugging in’ of sorts – breaking away from energy draining activities to recharge and regroup. Thinking of vegging in this manner may help you dismiss any derogatory feelings about letting those hours slip by unaccomplished.

Perspective

This is not to say that constant vegging will be good for anyone. Indeed, vegging should be utilized in those times – other than vacation – when its obvious that your tank is empty or when you feel the stress level about to overflow. Those are the times when its imperative that you give yourself permission to let go of the ‘to-do’ list and …

Go ahead and ‘veg’.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#84 Go Solo

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#84

Go Solo

In a world where we talk so much about belonging, I am going to recommend that – at least for some time – you ‘go solo’.

What does that mean?

Depending on who you’re talking to, the term ‘go solo’ may refer to a number of things. Some people immediately take it to the far side and assume you’re spending some ‘intimate’ time with yourself. Others wonder if you are going to ‘go out on your own’ professionally. Still others conjure visions of sitting in a movie theater or a restaurant by yourself. A few may even imagine travel.

Being Alone

No matter the definition, in fact, any of the above can apply… the goal is to find a comfort level with spending time with yourself – and only yourself. This may be uncomfortable for some of you if you think of this from the perspective of sexual pleasure and yet as we narrow down these 365 days, I’d be remiss to leave out this discussion. Indeed, personal pleasure time is very important to a healthy perspective about sex and a satisfactory sex life. If you don’t understand how your body experiences pleasure, how are you ever going to introduce another person to it? The key is to explore and experiment in the privacy and safety of your own company so that you can engage more fully when you are with a partner.

Out & About

In almost every memory I have of attending the movies, I recall seeing at least one person there solo and I’ve always admired their courage to sit there by themselves. My mother preferred going to the movies by herself because (she said) no one would interrupt her experience by asking questions or talking in the middle of it. Another friend prefers to eat lunch alone everyday and seeks restaurants that are quiet and less crowded. She asks for a booth where she can ‘hide’ from the world for that hour and she considers it a reprieve from her stressful job.

Professionally

If your career is in the trades or professional services and you’ve considered or made the decision to ‘go solo’ – bravo to you for taking the initiative of entrepreneurship. It takes considerable courage and commitment to step outside the safety of a group or organization and accept the risk of not knowing where or when your next client will surface. Not everyone can or will be open to existing in that arena but for those that do… the reward is often worth the risk.

Travel

I’ve read blogs and talked to people who have experienced solo travel as “one of the highlights of their lives” and indeed, some prefer it. I stepped out on my first solo travel trip this past summer with much trepidation and had fun although for me… the jury is still out. I love adventure and hesitate to submerge myself in unfamiliar situations without a safe harbor close by. It’s part of my current development plan and a ‘work in progress’.

Self Care

Learning to spend quality time with yourself is vital to your overall emotional health. It’s too demanding on social systems to provide 100% of the comfort that we need as individuals and so it’s imperative that we learn how to be still with ourselves. No matter the platform, consider including some ‘solo time’ into your self care plan. Eventually, you’re sure to establish some comfort in your ability to …

Go solo.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#102 Create a Personal Space

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#102

Create a personal space

I grew up knowing that the back room in my Grandparents house was “Grandaddy’s Room”. It was the part of the house where he could sit on the couch in dirty farm clothes, leave his boots where he took them off, and keep the newspaper open – if he chose. My Grandmother even had a room dedicated as an ‘office’ way before it was chic to have that space even though she didn’t work from home. Today, the terms ‘Man Cave’ and ‘She Shed’ are common terms often woven into real estate descriptions to entice buyers with the idea of dedicated personal space.

Regroup Space

Our ability to establish personal spaces like the ones described above means we have a place to go to ‘regroup’ when necessary. It can be a place for us to collect our thoughts, calm down, and gain perspective.

Refuel Space

Dedicated space can be a ‘pit stop’ for us… a refueling space where we can go for quiet time, reflection, meditation, prayer, or exercise. It’s a way for us to shut out the outside world temporarily.

Creative Space

Creative expression is an important element in many of our lives and it can get loud, messy, or downright dirty! Having a dedicated space to participate in a beloved activity can not only ‘refuel’ us but also save the sanity of our other family members by not exposing them to the mess or noise. It can act as an adult ‘play space’.

Personal Expression

A personal space offers people the opportunity to have a dedicated area that is completely representative of their own personality. A home is often an integration of what she likes and what he prefers. She may not paint the bedroom walls pink out of consideration of the fact that he sleeps there too. Likewise, his vast collection of baseball paraphernalia may not be a mutually desirable choice for family room decor.

Happiness

When we have personal space in which to regroup, refuel, express our creativity and express specific parts of our personality, we are likely to feel happier in general. When we are happier, our relationships benefit, our health benefits, and our productivity increases. Indeed, the list of advantages is long.

If you haven’t done so already, take a look around your living quarters and think of how you might…

Create some personal space.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

 

#107 Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.

#107

Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

Yesterday’s post – recommending that we occasionally ask for a hug – spoke to the importance of feeling connected – to  having a sense of belonging. This suggestion is another that will help foster the sensation of ‘belonging’ by bringing together those people that constitute our tribe.

Early Start

We may start developing the need to surround ourselves with favorite peeps as early as those playgroups that mom drug us to. For others, that desire began in daycare or school but either way – it only blossoms. Soon, we are asking for sleepovers and ‘hanging out’; we want to be encircled by other like-minded souls as often as possible. This is especially true through adolescence when we begin discovering how we are different from our family of origin and downright ‘need’ the sense of sameness.

Grown-up Play Dates

Our need for friendship and belonging doesn’t change as we mature. It does however, become more difficult to get those needs met as we marry, have children, full-time jobs and the daily responsibilities of home life. Our giggling late night conversations with our best friends are few and far between. Those nights that metaphorically ‘fill our gas tank’ are rare unless we make them happen. Hence, the need to have a girls or guys weekend.

Keep it Simple

While it’s great to get out and ‘do’ things while you’re with friends, some of the best parts of a friend weekend is to keep it simple. Life is busy enough as it is so a getaway weekend may best be served by taking it easy next to a beach, swimming pool, or fireplace with a bottle of wine or a bowl of popcorn. If there is too much planned activity, there may not be room for the conversations and connection for which the weekend was designed.

Likewise, the goal is friendship and bond strengthening so it can be short and inexpensive – one night at a campground; or longer and deluxe – a long weekend in Cabo. It can be just one friend or a dozen as long as drama, personality differences, and complaints stay home.

Gender differences

Generally, men like to ‘do’ things and can find comradery in building a barn, hunting, skiing, or gaming. Indeed – plenty of gents splurge on annual outings for many of those reasons and for some, it’s the only real ‘friend’ time they get during the year as family responsibilities prevail. Women seem to be better at planning short and sweet visits together more often, saving the long and expensive trips to enjoy with their significant others.

No matter the style, budget, or program – fostering, building, and strengthening a sense of belonging is the ultimate goal when you make plans to …

Have a Girls/Guys Weekend

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.