Practice Gratitude for Greater Happiness

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I recently began intentionally practicing something incredibly transformative, yet so simple, that I had to pass it on to my readers! It requires no special training, not a single other person, little time investment, and is free. Best of all, as the research now points out, increased happiness and well-being are likely to follow!

The funny thing is that I learned about this “little” jewel in Sunday School years ago. Most of us are taught this by our parents, myself included. So I am not exactly sure how I missed putting it fully into practice until recently! But now that I have reaped the amazing benefits, there is no turning back for me. Practicing gratitude markedly improved what I already felt was a happy and joyful life. I think I’ll keep practicing it!

What Gratitude Is

Randy A. Sanson, MD and Lori A. Sanson, MD, authors of the article Gratitude and Well Being: The Benefits of Appreciation, define gratitude in this way:  Continue reading

Enjoying a Painting in the Sky

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I saw a beautiful and unusual thing a couple days ago. The girls and I were riding together with my parents in the vehicle and Haddie said that she saw a rainbow. I kind of laughed because I thought she was being cute and explained that rainbows only appear when it rains or is misty out. A minute later I peered out the window into a sunny, mostly blue sky and was surprised to see a small rainbow nestled between two clouds. And of all things, it was almost circular in shape. I have never  seen anything like this before! I apologized right away to Haddie for not “believing” her and we both sat and soaked up God’s little painting in the sky. It was a fun moment!

You might be wondering where the rainbow is in the picture.  So am I! I tried to capture it, but for whatever reason it did’t show up.  It only looks like a pinpoint of white light, instead of the magnificent colors we saw. Oh, and I wasn’t driving, in case you were wondering!

I am curious, have you ever experienced seeing anything like this?  I wonder if this is an unusual occurrence? Also, I would love to hear what kinds of things you have enjoyed recently!

Practicing Forgiveness is Actually for You

Forgiveness

We all experience times where people in our lives hurt us, excruciatingly so, sometimes. It can be as extreme as the rejection of a spouse or child or fiancé. Although it could simply be a thoughtless, mean even, comment from a friend or coworker that plagues us. Yet we face the same question in all the various scenarios. Will we forgive the person who has hurt us? Should we forgive them, or is that somehow letting them “get away with it”?

Why practice forgiveness?

You might be wondering why you should bother with forgiveness at all. Maybe you feel it is your right to be upset by some offense. Yet, forgiveness is not just for weak or religious people – it’s for everyone. In fact, science shows that forgiveness is actually good for you!

According to the Mayo Clinic here are some things that forgiveness can lead to… Continue reading

A Great Way to Connect with Kids

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Finding moments throughout the day to enjoy and connect with our girls is something that is very important to Brance and I. We want to do this parenting thing with no regrets AND enjoy the ride (like most parents!).  But it is easy for mommies and daddies to allow life (dirty dishes, laundry, jobs, bills etc.) to wedge itself between us and sweet hugs, cuddles, and the funny/crazy moments we can have with our little ones, isn’t it!?

A great way that we have found to bond with our girls, especially in the evening, is through novels and book series. We’ve read books to our girls since they were small, and it’s always been something they (and we) enjoy, but the enjoyment level has gone way up since we started reading chapter books and even more with book series. Continue reading

Renovating our Civil War-Era Home: Part 1

I thought it might be fun to share some from our home-renovating journey that started 3 years ago and is still ongoing! Considering we initially thought we would be in after 1 1/2 years max, and we currently live in a less than beautiful apartment (as in kind of last updated in the 60’s and falling apart around us…literally), this journey has taught me a thing or two about patience and contentment. But more on that later! This week I thought I would share a bit about the “new” home we look forward to being in one day.

The house that Brance and I bought and are renovating ourselves is a Civil War-Era home, which we thought was exciting. Really it is Brance who is doing the work, but I do have plenty of ideas, poor guy! We were fortunate to get a great deal on a single-family foreclosure, something difficult to find here in Boston (both, single family and a foreclosure). Let me tell you, the real estate market completely blew me away when we moved to our neighborhood of South Boston 3 1/2 years ago.  Most of the housing available is condos that come as small as 300 square feet (with very large price tags)!  Did I say we are blessed?!

Here are a couple of pictures of the home when we bought it. Even though the outside looked okay, it was a wreck on the inside and required an imagination to see anything remotely nice. But we were so excited to finally own our own home, and a single family at that, we were floating on air as we walked though the “wreckage” dreaming about what we could do with it.

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Underneath all those layers of paint we found a beautiful mahogany banister that we are going to keep! It’s one of the few original things in the house, that and the beautiful pumpkin pine floors, that are worth keeping. Oh, and see Haddie’s little noggin? She was going through a phase where she was obsessed with being photographed.

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I wish she would smile like this now for pictures! Continue reading

It’s A Wonderful Life: The Story Behind the Name

When Brance first suggested “It’s A Wonderful Life” as a website title, I thought, “yes that’s perfect”. It encapsulates so well what we hope to convey and encourage with this space. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the movie just happens to be my all-time favorite one, Christmas or not!

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movieIt is our desire to live lives that enjoy every moment: lives that savor the everyday regardless of our circumstances. And to help other people do the same. I have to tell you that I didn’t always feel that this was possible in my life. I have had some really big obstacles along my journey, mostly connected with my health, that in the past made this seem like an impossible mountain to climb. You may feel that way now. If you do, know that this effort is dedicated especially to you! Continue reading

Logs and Pinecones

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I just love beautiful, natural Christmas decor. I saw these white logs tied with rope and pinecones on my walk this morning and liked them. I might would have chosen smaller pinecones or a couple more logs, though. What do you think?

Three “Little” Suggestions to Help Combat Depression

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As we are headed into winter, I want to share some things with those of you who may struggle with SAD or even mild-moderate depression (or know someone who does), that have made a huge difference in my life. I did not realize, until we moved from rural Virginia to Boston a little over 3 years ago, that this is something I am prone to. Even though I suffered with moderate-severe depression for a couple years in college! Here are 3 things that have made a huge difference for me in helping keep depression away (as in totally pulling me out of unable-to-get-off-the-couch and know-what-to-do-next kind of SAD that hit me during my first New England winter).

SUPPLEMENT WITH VITAMIN D3

This one makes a huge, huge difference for me! It literally felt like someone turned the light on when I first began supplementing about 2 years ago.  I heard another person describe it as feeling like their IQ increased! I take somewhere between 5,000-7,000 IU of Vitamin D daily. I came to this amount based on recommendations from the Vitamin D Council and Grass Roots Health. They both have lots of good information on their websites to help you better understand the benefits of Vitamin D3.  GRH even has a handy chart to help you figure out how much you should be supplementing with! I cut back a little in the summer months when I am getting more of Vitamin D naturally Continue reading

Checkered Bows and Starfish

I thought I might share some of the fun design/decor things I see while taking my walks through “Southie”, my Boston neighborhood. I always feel so inspired walking around here! Especially around the holidays.

Here is a wreath that I thought was interesting, cute even, with its black and white checkered bow. What do you think?

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I am always pleasantly surprised as I come to the end of one of our streets and this is my view. I just love being near the water!

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And here is a wreath I saw on a beautiful home as I walked around the corner in the above picture. Isn’t it perfect for a house right across the street from the ocean? I like the little starfish tucked in this classy looking wreath!

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What kinds of inspiring things do you see when you are out and about where you live?