CALL TO ACTION: INTO THE DEEP

Based on my recent findings in regards to a happier and balanced life, I moved forward with a couple of goals within the physical area. I live in a city where walking is not practical and everything requires the use of a car; in fact, when people are seen walking down the street in certain areas, without any form of fitness attire, they are considered a rarity.

With the above limitation in mind, I made a resolution to go from my house to a nearby trail so that I could at least walk for a couple of miles everyday. Recently, I had scheduled breakfast with my one of my sisters to celebrate her birthday, and all of a sudden I came up with a brilliant idea. Instead of meeting her at a place that required 20 minutes of driving, I told her we could meet at a nearby European cafe which requires a seven minute drive. I put on some workout clothes and I set off walking for about 50 minutes........

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In order to get there, I had to pass the trail I mentioned earlier; the one I had been meaning to hit every morning, and all of a sudden, I realized what a great thing I had been missing. The walk was beautiful and the pace immediately made me breath deeper; which is so necessary in order to keep stress levels down. Once I arrived into the cafe, I felt wonderful and proud of myself; it was an immediate boost in many ways. I had taken with me one of my favorite accessories, a scarf, so all I had to do was throw it on and I looked perfectly beautiful for breakfast.

It was great to spend time with my sister and we had a great time. She drove me home so I could take a shower and have enough time for the rest of my to do list, but that day I realized that my goal to walk to the trail and back was a very realistic one, and later that day I was able to have an even bigger idea. I realized that I could not only benefit physically during my walks, but also spiritually.

A while ago, while listening to the song 'Just Breath' by Anna Nalick, I realized that I could somehow change the lyrics into 'Just Pray', since my desire is, that just like breathing, we all have the opportunity to turn prayer into second nature and that throughout the day we are mindful of the many spiritual gifts we are given and live in relation to something more transcendent. Based on this earlier reflection, I was able to arrive to the conclusion that just as there is need for deeper breathing with some form of exercise, there is also the need to take the time for deeper prayer and meditation, and my perfect way to solve this is to walk and pray every morning, so that little by little; both my breathing and prayer turn ever deeper, and help me to become a more beautiful version of myself.

lovely image found via pinterest (original source unknown)

CALL TO ACTION : A HAPPY LIFE

One of the lessons I learned this summer, is to take better care of myself. I tend to get busy with too many projects or over commit to help someone else in need; only to find myself stressed or with several alarms triggered by my worn out body.

Over the last couple of months I have come across many wonderful sources to help my very unbalanced lifestyle, but two very particular ones have proven truly insightful. The first one of these; a cleverly written book, The Happiness Project, by author Gretchen Rubin. I am only half way through her writings; yet, from the very first chapter I was forced to think of the ways in which I could improve my quality of life, and therefore that of others.

I know that helping people and being there for them when in need makes me deeply happy, but not when that takes me to the extreme of neglecting my own self, so I made a commitment to gain some 'catch up' time from here to the end of the year.

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I had been making small changes into my overall routine; yet another providential find made my resolutions even more concrete. I ran across a recorded conference given by Matthew Kelly on the topic of Becoming the Better Version of Yourself. I began listening to it and it all came to a full circle!

Matthew Kelly describes the four areas which need to be balanced in order to be happy and the best version of ourselves. He touched on the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual, and it made me realize that some of these had been somehow neglected by my 'busy' days. I realize that although my life is great, it could be a lot better and I could have so much more to offer to others.

I have been thinking about concrete means for each of the four areas, and this morning I realized that in order for me to be encouraged through the process, I would commit to doing one thing to help myself and another to reach out.

To give you a better example, allow me to share a bit on the physical agenda:

~to myself:

  • I commit to eating healthier meals and not skipping any of them
  • I commit to exercising every week in order to feel less stressed and energized

~to others:

  • I commit to contributing to an organization that provides meals to those in great need
  • I commit to contributing to an organization that values life and the dignity of a person/body from conception to death.

I am convinced that this will have an effect on multiple lives and therefore create beauty. Please stay in touch as I plan to share more information on my new little plan for life.

Lovely image by photographer Trent Bailey via firefly events

A REFLECTION OF BEAUTY

Every once in a while you wonder if any life situation would keep you from viewing the

beauty of life itself. Coming across the story of Stephanie Nielson (nienie), I can only confirm once again, that beauty is to be found, no matter what, and that difficult experiences may offer the opportunity of making you more grateful and appreciative of all that, which has been given.

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Surviving a near-fatal airplane crash, which burned 80% of her body, Stephanie cherishes the fact that she is alive and is able to be present in the lives of her loves: Mr. Nielson, Claire, Jane, Oliver, Nicholas and her newest sweetheart, Charlotte, as she lovingly describes them.

What a beautiful example of love and simplicity. I cannot help but be inspired by her courage and determination to reflect beauty, against any other reflection.

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Images by Justin Hackworth for Parade found via nienie

Stephanie and her beautiful family were featured on Parade magazine; take a look at some behind the scenes action:

A book written by Stephanie with the accounts of her story will be released Spring 2012, this little video has a beautiful introduction:

How lovely to see so much beauty around Stephanie; just take a look at her little ones, truly a reflection of whom she really is:

ON LIVING WITH DIGNITY

When I was 12 years old, I visited a small town where houses were built out of cardboard and tin, and as I met some of the members of the community, I noticed a little hut where dishes piled up and dust abounded. I was then prompt to ask the lady within the little dwelling, whether I could help to 'beautify' her little home. She agreed, and I gladly set out on a mission.

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I began by taking care of the pile of dishes and sweeping the entire little hut. I then proceeded to rearrange the few pieces of furniture available to achieve the proper balance and make it more pleasing to the eye. The final touches were given with little things she had available and voila! A quaint little place to call home.

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I remember vividly the excitement and gratefulness from the lovely lady. She thanked me by giving away some of the candy that she sold for a living and I left fully convinced, that no matter how many or how little resources one is given, one can make a home truly dignified.

I believe that when we are surrounded by beauty it is easier to remember our worth and dignity, and carry ourselves according to that truth....

lovely images image found via pinterest