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Finding inspiration in everyday life

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the demands of everyday life. Even a standard, no-drama type of week can be exhausting, especially when you have young children.  Who doesn’t dream of escaping to a tropical island for a few days to get away from it all? Fortunately, there are ways to find inspiration in everyday life that can recharge your batteries when you need it.

Here a few things that inspired me this past week.

The kindness of friends

Everybody is facing their own challenges and yet most people are able to get themselves out of bed in the morning and get through their day. We never know what’s really happening in a person’s life and despite all the smiling snapshots on social media, nobody’s life is perfect. The best thing we can do is to be kind to one another and to ourselves.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my car wouldn’t start last week and we found we needed a new starter. We’ve always been a two-car family and especially now when my kids’ school is 20 minutes in one direction and my husband’s work is a half-hour in the opposite direction, having two cars makes things a lot easier. There’s been a delay in repairing the car because we received the wrong part for the car and after we ordered it from another company, we received the wrong one again. (Public service announcement in case you have  a 2012 Kia Sedona that needs a new starter: Most Kia Sedonas use starters with eight teeth, but for some reason the 2012 model might be equipped with one that uses 10-teeth so the eight-teeth one won’t work.) A kind friend is out of town this week and she is letting us use her car when she’s gone.  Sometimes it takes a village to get through the week and I’m so grateful for her offer!

Meditation experiences

Oprah Winfrey and Deepak Choprah are doing another one of their free 21-day meditation experiences, this time the subject is “Shedding Weight: Mind, Body and Spirit.” I’ve yet to get through all 21 days of these meditation experiences because I end up getting busy with other things and fall behind, but I’m trying it again. This is what this one covers:

Experience more energy, creativity, and light in every facet of your life! Join Oprah & Deepak to embark on an inspirational meditation journey that will last a lifetime, as you discover what truly nourishes your entire being and lift the heaviness that has held you back from being your best self. Experience the freedom that comes from stabilizing physical hunger, alleviating mental unrest, and satisfying spiritual longing.

Namaste.

 Outdoor adventures (or at least a walk)

Phoenix is in its sweet spot of the year weather-wise, with temperatures in the 70s and 80s. One day this week after driving home after dropping the kids off at school, I noticed people walking outdoors and thought how nice that looked. Then I realized that I didn’t need to be sitting at my desk at a specific time and I could go for a walk, too. So before getting started with my work that day, I did, with the backdrop of the Spotify “Have a Great Day” playlist. Some songs that played during my walk were “Here Comes the Sun” by the Beatles, “All Star” by Smashmouth, “Mr. Jones” by Counting Crows and “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins. I may have sung along as I walked.

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Listening to music and writing songs

Music has the power to change my mood around and writing songs has always helped me get through difficult times. NPR has a contest going on right now called the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest, where songwriters and musicians make a video with their original song and the video must have a desk in it somewhere. I wanted to submit a song last year, but didn’t end up doing so and was thinking about doing it this year but then watched some of the other entries. There are so many talented singer-songwriters and musicians out there and since one of the entry requirements is not having a current recording contract, that means that there are so many talented singer-songwriters and musicians out there who don’t have recording contracts.

I made a couple of videos with a desk in it, one for my song “Throw it All Away” (lyrics here) – which was inspired by a decluttering session in my office – and one for “Sunsets Look a Little Faded” – inspired by the show “Nashville.” I probably won’t actually submit them, but I’ll post them here so you can see how they turned out. (Not sure what’s up with the lighting issues in the first one – maybe it was the light coming through the window? I closed the blinds for the second one.)

I also worked on two articles this week that will be published in a couple of months. One of my articles was published this month in the Scottsdale Nearby News – about Scottsdale artist Deena Goldstein and her cool Pop Art Pets.  She’s such upbeat, enthusiastic person and it was so fun learning about her work.

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Learning other people’s stories

I often listen to audiobooks on my commutes to and from school. I recently finished “Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age” by Jeff Goins, which provided insight of how artists and creative people find success. This past week, I also spent some  time exploring the wonderful resources available in the Freelance Writers’ Den. I’ve listened to some of the podcasts that offer invaluable tips and advice about the freelance writing industry. Learning about other people’s journeys is always inspiring to me because they serve as a reminder that there are many paths to success and as long as you’re moving forward in your goals, you’re making progress.

Connecting with tradition

Shortly after I returned from my Israel trip in December 2016, I started participating in the Partners in Torah program, which arranges  Torah learning sessions in person or over the phone. Every Wednesday evening, a rebbitzen from New Jersey calls me to share a short lesson about that week’s parsha (Torah portion) or an upcoming holiday. The phone call lasts about 15 minutes and is a nice reminder where we are in the Jewish calendar.

Being grateful

When I find myself complaining, I always try to make myself shift my perspective (at least most of the time, anyway). When you consider how many things can go wrong in a day, it’s truly a miracle to be alive at the end of the day and to wake up the next morning.

What are ways that you find inspiration?

Every day is a holiday

As for our Every Day is a Holiday campaign, where our family celebrates something different each day, here’s what we did this past week.

Sometimes marking a holiday means acknowledging it, rather than actually celebrating it. Such is the case with St. Patrick’s Day, which was March 17. One of the kids wore green and whoever didn’t got pinched. I shared this custom with them, remembering it from my elementary school days, and my 11-year-old told me it was still practiced. (This year it fell on a Saturday so he was basing it on last year’s experience.) Where did this custom come from? According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, it’s because St. Patrick’s Day is a day to honor Ireland by wearing green so if you don’t wear green, you get pinched for being disrespectful.  Another reason is because it’s an old American tradition that wearing green makes you invisible to leprechauns so if you’re not wearing green, you may get pinched to remind you of that. Hmmm. I forgot to wear green, but no disrespect to Ireland was intended. In fact, I’d really like to go there someday. One of my favorite authors, Maeve Binchy, wrote about life in Ireland and it sounds like a beautiful place.

This week was American Chocolate Week, so we made sure to celebrate that – Ron made a big batch of chocolate-chip pancakes (and a couple of the kids poured chocolate syrup on top).

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For National Laugh Day (March 19), we told jokes at the dinner table. Alexa got in the action, too, sharing some knock-knock jokes.

March 20 was National Ravioli Day so I grabbed a can of Annie’s ravioli off the shelf when I was at the grocery store that day. Maybe I should have attempted making it at home because nobody was that into it. March 20 also marked the first day of spring and after seeing some Facebook friends’ pictures of snow storms on the East Coast, I was really grateful to be in Arizona!

For National Countdown Day (March 21), we decided to countdown to Passover, which is only (gulp) nine days away. Last year at this time, we didn’t have a kitchen (our house was under renovation), so we’re further along this year, but there’s still lots left to do before it starts, which is now in seven days.

We also celebrated The Lorax, which was the theme of Literacy Night at one of the kids’ schools.  Over the two weeks prior to the event, families brought their recyclable materials to school (the Lorax, a Dr. Seuss character, is the ultimate environmentalist) so we got to see how the materials were used. The teachers are very creative so there were lots of fun activities, although the older boys spent the majority of the time playing basketball.

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March 22 was We Love Broccoli Day so we had some broccoli for dinner. Although broccoli generally seems to get a bad rap, fortunately everyone in our house is very pro-broccoli. When the boys were younger, they used to call them little trees. National Chip and Dip Day is March 23, so we’ll be having some chips and dips. Yum.

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