Friday, July 16, 2010

Stretching Beyond

It's "safe" to stay within our comfort zones. But what happens when we stretch beyond our regular routines? Recently I set up my jewelry display to vend at ... an army base mini-mall. Mall and military base are not my normally hang outs. Art fair, trunk show, rock shop are more my normal display venues. I was in for a three day cultural adventure.

Getting through the front gate is no easy task. Remember to have all your ID ++ and be ready for the super search. That's right. Open all your doors and car hood and relax as they inspect for car bombs.

Once inside and setting up, it was all a very very pleasant surprise. Immediately an older gentleman came over and bought two bracelets for his wife and daughter. Then the more seasoned vendors came over to meet me and my goods.

The highlight for me, and likely for all the regulars, were the traveling vendors. Many move from base to base as they make their circuit across the country. That week a pair of young Israeli gals were selling a high tech hair straightener and curling iron. Leah and Merav became instant friends to all with their relaxed manner and affable style. This was how they were bank rolling their trip around the world -- a three month stint hawking an expensive appliance at the military bases. You might think, "who would by that thing?" I will tell you, "there were few women who turned these charming young women down."

As I sat quietly at my table hoping some one would come admire my wares, those lovely young ladies were roping them in, doing their hair and sending them off with a $100 box. To entertain myself, I would have them do my hair and offer them little gems as a tip.

After three days, I found my sense of comfort and thoroughly enjoyed conversations with many PX visitors. Several more men came to shop for their wives. Many young mothers stopped to enjoy my eclectic style. And one visiting military wife from another base spoiled me as she bought gifts for herself and a friend. I felt rich with genuine social interactions, new perspectives on business ventures (like touring the country by vending at the military bases?!!), and meeting many different types of folks who walk through the doors of the PX.

I'm soooooo glad I took the opportunity to stretch beyond my normal patterns and experience all these wonderful new folks and perspectives.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

"10 Little Tips to Feel Happier Right Now" by Jonathan Lockwood Huie

Don't wait to make a big change in the quality of your life. Eight of these
ten little ways to happiness can be done in less than five minutes.

1. Smile. Raise the corners of your mouth. Soon your smile will become genuine. The smile that begins as an effort and a pretense quickly grows to become genuine, and given time, a habit of happiness. In the words of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, "Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile,
but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."

2. Breathe deeply and slowly. Focus your entire attention on each in-breath
and out-breath. Imagine drawing new clean energy in through the top of your head on each in-breath, and expelling old stale energy out the soles of your
feet on each out-breath.

3. Take a quiet walk by yourself. Focus on each step and on your breathing.
As stray thoughts enter your mind, thank each one, and quickly release the thought and return to a focus on your breathing and your steps.

4. Count your blessings. Make a gratitude list. You have thousands of reasons to be thankful. Be thankful for those who serve you. Make a list of those you depend upon. Everyone has many people who help along the way. Don't forget those who grow and deliver your food, keep your electricity and telephone running, provide emergency medical care, and protect the safety of your community and your nation.

5. Forgive someone for something right now. Release the resentment and anger. This practice is for you to become happier. Telling the other person
that you forgive them is completely optional, and is merely a bonus.

6. Stretch your body. Do yoga, do qigong, or just stand and stretch. As a simple stretch, stand and hold your arms out to your sides forming a cross. Gently bend each hand back at the wrist until the fingers point straight
upward. Twist each hand and arm in a wringing motion as if you were operating
a screwdriver.

7. Turn on happy music and dance. Don't stop 'til you're tired. Dance with someone or dance all by yourself. Choose music that makes you want to
move and keep moving such as Latin Fitness Dance music.

8. Spend some time with a furry friend. If you don't have your own, borrow
a cat or dog to love today.

9. Be of service. Find someone who has worse troubles than you and do something nice for them today.

10. Have a conversation with God (or whatever you call your Higher Power). Approach the conversation with an attitude of gratitude rather than neediness.

Jonathan Lockwood Huie writes the popular Daily Inspiration - Daily Quote free email and inspiring website featuring famous inspirational quotes and Jonathan's articles such as "7 Secrets of Happy Couples." He is co-author of Simply An Inspired Life: Consciously Choosing Unbounded Happiness in Good Times and Bad and the community.

** Today is your day to dance lightly with life. It really is. - Jonathan Lockwood Huie **