Blog

Holiday spirit through the entire year? YES!

WRITTEN BY ERIKA SZILAGYI, MEMBER OF THE IPSN TEAM AND LIFE COACH AT LIVE SMART COACHING

HolidayI am a big fan of holidays and I am sure I am not the only one. I feel so relaxed while on holiday and I find myself noticing more of my surroundings, feeling more present and connected to my thoughts. However, when I return back to the “real world” it is always difficult to adjust. I started to think about how I could feel those same “holiday feelings” even when I am back in day-to-day life. Here are some tricks and tips that I developed through the years to make my holidays last longer and feel the holiday spirit back at home as well!

Scent and Smell

shower-gel-320691_960_720

Science says that smell is the most powerful tool to evoke memories and emotions. Cool! During your holiday time, use a specific shower gel or perfume. Make sure it is a scent that you enjoy and one that is special. When return home from your holiday and you may be missing those relaxing vacation days, just open the bottle and take a deep breath. It will light you up I am sure!

How I do it: For so many years now, I have used the same shower gel when I go on a beach vacation. By now I have a very strong connection between that fragrance and the holiday feeling. When I feel down, like in the winter when summer is still far away, I just take a shower with that specific shower gel. It is a simple trick that can bring some sunshine and warmth to your day. It works 😉 Just make sure you keep that fragrance special. If you use it every day, it will overwrite the connection in the brain.

Music

Every summer has hot hits. You know those songs that we hear and play on repeat? Try creating a playlist to listen to while driving, travelling, readingmobile-616012_960_720 or relaxing during your vacation. Not a fan of pop music? Then create any type of music playlist specifically for the holiday time. It works the same way as with the scent and smell. Music will help your brain memorize and preserve the special holiday moments and more importantly capture the mood and spirit. Feel free to use the same playlist every holiday or create new ones.

How I do it: I like pop music, so it’s easy for me. Sometimes I don’t prepare any playlist. I just listen to the radio a lot during my holidays and there are few songs that they play more so it sticks to my brain. When I make a playlist I add the hits to my list. By now, I have a lot of playlists or songs that are connected with holidays, different playlist different holiday. When I want to go back to a specific holiday I just start to listen to that playlist.  For example, when I was on holidays with my boyfriend for the first time, we listened hit songs in the car, a lot! Now I just pick that playlist over a romantic dinner at home and we are travelling back in time! Its perfect for bringing hot days back to winter times and bringing romance back into your relationship! I also love when it is winter time and I drive in my car and they play one of these songs on the radio. It makes my day! 

Photos and Videos 

memory-2213634_960_720You would think this one might be obvious. Well, maybe… We take photos all the time without thinking, especially now that most of our SmartPhones are equipped with cameras. Yet imagine you have an old camera with film in it. It means you have 32 pictures; 32 moments to catch. So, now it puts things into a different light. I suggest to use this 32 photo concept to preserve the moments and not the surrounding. What I am talking about? For example, think of a time you had an amazing time with your friends, laughing until it hurts. Well, that’s the moment to take a photo! Back at home make an album of the photos. You can even write the memory on the back of the pictures. Invite the people with who you were on holidays and look at those photos together. Don’t share on social media! It’s only for you. Old-school is back (If you would have shared on social media, it wouldn’t be that fun to watch those pictures because everyone would have seen them already)!

How I do it: I choose the photos that make me smile. I make an album, and invite my travel companions to my house to watch them over some holiday food and drink while we listen to the playlist.

Food and Drink

There are tyfood-1050813_960_720pical dishes in every country and as tourists we are obliged to try them 🙂 Special tastes and spices can create a connection in the brain the same way as smell and music. Of course there are also typical summer drinks. Pick your favourite one and consume it through your vacation time or even during the entire summer. After the holiday season when not much is going on prepare that specific dish or drink and enjoy!

How I do it: I cook a special dish I had over my vacation or make a special cocktail if I feel in need some holiday spirit.

Reading

book-863418_960_720

Summer holidays are perfect for reading books. Longer days mean more light and reading is the best activity while lying in the sun on the beach. Reading helps us to grow our knowledge,  open our mind, enrich our wisdom, change our mindset. Better yet, reading can be really entertaining. Let your mind and imagination explore a great story, new ideas, thoughts and feelings. Learn a new personal development tool, start a new way of thinking and let yourself realize something about your own self.  Choose a book that has a message to you or one that offers great entertainment. The key is to read that book which shakes you a bit (of course in a good way).  This book will give that extra to your holiday and later the book can act like a souvenir on your bookshelf. 

read-369040__340

How I do it: As you might expect, my main interest is psychology. I buy lot of books through the year but I don’t have the time, mood, energy to read all of them. So I read them through my holidays and with that I give a real content and meaning to the simpliest days even. I expand my wisdom and awareness 🙂

 

Stress and Self-Care {Part II}

WRITTEN BY ERIKA SZILAGYI, MEMBER OF THE IPSN TEAM AND LIFE COACH AT LIVE SMART COACHING

In {Part I} of this blog you learned about what stress is, how to recognize it, and how to cope with stressful situations. Here, in {Part II}, we will focus on how we should think about stress and self-care.

stress ball

We actually need stress

We think about stress as the bad guy or the enemy and we want to eliminate it from our lives for good. Well, getting rid of stress completely would not be the best solution. Why? Because we need stress. Moderate amounts stress can actually be helpful in willing strength and focus. Science even says that stress can make you healthier!

runners-635906_1280
According to psychologicst, Kelly McGonigal, what matters is how we think about stress. McGonigal says that if we can’t change stress from external factors, we need to change it internally, within ourselves. We can do this by changing our view and approach about stress. Think that STRESS = CHALLENGE, and then be better than stress! This paradigm shift could literally be life saving!

The research findings behind her conclusion and even more surprising upsides of stress:

  • Stress may actually be correlated with longevity if it is not viewed negatively. 
  • A possible cure to negative effects of stress is giving to others.
  • Moderate stress can lead to cell growth in the brain’s learning centers.
  • Stress can call for helper hormones to vulnerable areas.
  • Stress can activate both good and bad habits.
  • A stress-is-enhancing mindset may have lasting effects.

Extra cool info from the McGonigal’s TED talk: Did you know that Oxytocin is a stress hormone? And what it does to your heart? Watch the video and find out more!

brain-605603_1280

It is not easy to set our mid to think positive about stress. While we are busy with switching our mindset, stress can still have a negative effect on us. We might lose energy and motivation as a result. How can we overcome these moments?

Practice Self-Care

Self-care is a choice to engage in activities that helps to gain or maintain optimal level of overall health. It includes physical, psychological, emotional, social and spiritual components of an individual’s well-being. 

Why take care of yourself? There is a great illustration by James Clear, called Your Bucket of Health and Energy  It looks like this: Imagine that your health and energy are a bucket of water and there are things that fill your bucket up (sleep, laughter, joy, meditation, your hobby, etc.) and there are other things that drain your bucket (lifting weights, stress, problems, anxiety, etc.).

recovery-bucket

The goal is to keep the bucket at an optimal level. In order to do that we need to refill our bucket on a regular basis (eating well, having fun, sleeping and in general making time for recovery). If you let your bucket get too empty, your body will force you to rest through illness and injury. Recovery is not negotiable! Take care of yourself starting today!

relax

Self-care is not a to-do list. It’s not a list of things you need to check off every day. Self-care is more about paying attention and listening to ourselves. 

Here are some specific questions for practicing self-care by Margarita Tartakovsky:

By answering these questions you start to focus on yourself. It will help you to make a decision that actually comfort you. Keep in mind there are no good or bad answers! And try to be honest with yourself.


Ask Yourself

  • How do I want to feel today?
  • How can my loved ones best support me right now or through a challenging situation that’s coming up?
  • How can I celebrate myself today?
  • What’s the most respectful choice for me?
  • What do I need?
  • What honors my body?What feels good to me?
  • What feels freeing or blissful or abundant?
  • What is a small self-compassionate step I can take?
  • What feels less overwhelming in the chaos of today or tomorrow?
  • What am I really feeling today?
  • What soothes my soul?
  • What am I truly hungry for? What will nourish that hunger?
  • What might serve as a salve for my current struggles?

Difficult to find your answers? Let me help you!

Need inspiration for self-care activities? Here are 101 suggestions for self-care and a great self-care toolbox.

Feel free to share your answers, comments and ideas in the IPSN Community Facebook Page! Let’s inspire each other!

Resources:

Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know! 

ErikaSzilagyi

Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!

Save

Stress and Self-Care {Part I} 

WRITTEN BY ERIKA SZILAGYI, MEMBER OF THE IPSN TEAM AND LIFE COACH AT LIVE SMART COACHING

We are surrounded by stress all the time. Many of us learned to live with it, but others struggle with managing stress. In order to maintain a happy and balanced life we need to cope and manage stress.

stress

There are many great articles, videos and tips online, here I collected some that I find great.

How do you know when you are stressed?

Can you describe what you feel? A typical example that everyone can relate to is when we are in a hurry and we stand in a long grocery store line. We might even feel like screaming but we don’t do that of course. Or maybe it happens after the grocery store, at home when our partner or child repeats a question and we become inpatient or angry. It is not our partner or child whom made us feel this way, rather it was just an opportunity to let out some steam that built up in the grocery store.

In these situations our body gives a stress response (flight or fight). As a preparation for the stressful situation we mobilize our energy. And here comes the trick. Back in time we released this energy while hunting, but now we just drive back home and make a dinner which does not help us to let the bad energy out. We can see this mobilized energy erupting in a destructive way (see example: anger). It is important to recognize and understand the real stress. Knowing about it gives us a power to control it and to use it in a more constructive way (e.g. sport).

Keep in mind that stress is both universal and very personal at the same time. What stresses you out is different from what stresses your friend out.

The N.U.T.S. ingredients of stress are universal 

For a situation to be stressful it must contain one or more of following elements:

NOVELTY Something new you have not experienced before

UNPREDICTABILITY Something you had no way of knowing it would happen

THREAT TO THE EGO Your competence as a person is called into question

SENSE OF CONTROL You feel no or little control over the situation

So,the million dollar question:

How do we cope with stress?

We either eliminate stress from our life, or we learn to live with it. Unfortunately the first option is impossible so we have to stick with the second one.

stress2

Remember

A situation is stressful if you find it stressful. You have a right to feel N.U.T.S.. As mentioned above, stress is very individual and personal. Everyone deals with stress in their own way. Some become aggressive, others withdraw and others thrive on stress. This variable response is a reason why there is no universal stress-management technique!

What is coping?

Coping are the thoughts and actions we use to deal with stressful situation. There are two different coping strategies; Problem-focused and Emotion-focused.

  1. Problem-focused:  We focus on the problem and we use active ways to solve it.
  2. Emotion-focused: To handle the distress, we focus on the feelings.

Keep in mind that both strategies of coping with stress are equally good. If you want to go a step further, it becomes important to develop different strategies to adapt to different situations.

Now that we understand stress and we are able to recognize it and we also know about different coping strategies for managing stress, we just need to find the strategy that works the best for us. Then… we need to apply it daily! When we manage stress appropriately, we are practicing self-care. We choose to act in a constructive way which helps us to take care of ourselves.

stress3

In the second part of this blog series on Stress and Self-Care, I will describe how stress can be our friend and I will give you some tips for practicing self-care.

Need guidance to find out your stress management technique? Or to practice self-care? Let me know!


ErikaSzilagyi

Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!


More strategies and examples in the links below:

Find Your Own Motivational Style

Written by Erika Szilagyi, IPSN Community Member and Life Coach at Live Smart Coaching
All of us have dreams, ideas, goals, plans. But not all of us manage to achieve them.

 dreams

Why? 

Because we tend to lose focus, become less motivated or lazy, and when it is not happening quickly enough we lose interest, motivation and the power to go any further. Or maybe its that we don’t even know where to start!

Solution?

Simple. We have to stay focused, motivated and persistent.

How?

We have to find our own motivational strategy! The secret is self-motivation. When you learn to motivate your own self and not looking for external factors, it gives you the ability to be tough and focused, and it also gives you the stamina that is needed on the way towards your goals.

Keep in mind: Don’t be too strict on yourself. Don’t become narrow minded in thinking only about your goal. The key is the balance between being strict and allowing yourself to be ‘bad’ (act out of the control). For example, with diet it can be an 80/20 rule. For 80% you eat good and for 20% you allow yourself to eat the junk food.

Obstacles on the way: We are humans. Allow yourself some failures, breaks (which means you didn’t give up!), up’s and down’s.  Be patient, your goal can be a long term one or it may take longer than you expected to get there. But when you learn to motivate yourself and you apply your own style, you will see these obstacle as mere challenges.

It is also important to have some fun in the meantime, because as they say: “It is not the destination, but the journey that counts.” Well, in this case its both the destination and the journey! Reaching a goal is an AMAZING feeling and it will boost your self-esteem, which will keep you going as well! Try to look at it as a real journey, which will bring you new experiences, wisdom, insights and strength.

 leapoffaith

Here are some specific tips how to become your own motivational buddy and make yourself to DO it further:

1. Before you start any action, take a moment. A quiet and peaceful moment. Think deep about yourself, about what is that you really want (try to be as specific as you can) and why you want it. When you have it (achieved) what it will give to you (feelings, opportunities, freedom, knowledge, etc.). How do you know when you achieved it? And how will you celebrate it? Would be great if you could write down all your answers.

2. Still before the action, please think again deeply. Imagine that you are on the way to achieve your goal. You did great, and you see yourself achieving your goal soon but somehow you loose some power (You can imagine that you are running and before the finish line you feel you need to stop for a moment). What would you say to yourself to cheer you up, to boost your energy and reach that goal? Write down these words, sentences because these words will be your own cheering words. It comes from you so it will speak to you when you need it the most.

3. You have the goal, you got the power and ready to start. But how? Making action plan can help. It gives you two useful things. One, you break down the BIG goal into smaller ones, so it is more digestible. No one climbed the Mount Everest with one HUGE step. Two, it will give you smaller goals that are fun to reach on the way and opportunities to celebrate them 🙂 Cool, right? You can add a timeline which will make you work by schedule (so add a date to your smaller and final goals, then it becomes a plan)

4. Keep your journey documented (to yourself or even in a blog to inspire others). It will be great to read it when you want to look back and be proud. It is also an amazing learning tool. You would get so much insight about yourself, your thoughts and struggles and how you did overcome them all. And it can be your motivational manual for the next goal! Yeah! 🙂

5. Share your goal with the ones closest to you. From time to time, your friends and family can “check” on you and support you if and when you need it.

Extra tips: Use Post-it notes (in your apartment, in your wallet, PC, etc.), daily reminders on your phone, small messages with your own cheering words from point 2, apps like daily motivational quotes, desktop on your laptop for inspiration, or even you can make your own mood board.

Science says: Is your goal to make something healthy, or useful as a part of your life? Do you want to develop it as a routine? Do it strictly for 2 weeks, then it becomes your habit!

Want to find out your own motivational style? Try as much as you can and you will know what works for you and on you. Don’t want to do it alone? Get a Life Coach!

ErikaSzilagyi

Erika Szilagyi is from Hungary. She moved to the Netherlands 6 years ago. She is a Psychologist & Life Coach. She helps people make their life a great one. Send her an e-mail!

Be SMART about Setting Goals

Spring is a great time for a fresh start! The days are brighter and the mood is lighter. The time is ripe for new beginnings. So, let’s be SMART and get started.

springflowers

S: Set a very specific goal. I will add one fruit serving — that’s half a cup, chopped– to my current daily diet.

M: Find a way to measure progress. I will log my efforts each day on my calendar.

A: Make sure it’s achievable. Be sure you’re physically capable of safely accomplishing your goal. If not, aim for a smaller goal.

R: Make sure it’s realistic. It may seem counterintuitive, but choosing the change you most need to make — let’s say, quitting smoking or losing weight — isn’t as successful as choosing the change you’re most confident you’ll be able to make. Focus on sure bets: If you picture a 10-point scale of confidence in achieving your goal, where 1 equals no confidence and 10 equals 100% certainty, you should land in the 7-to-10 zone. An additional fruit serving a day is a small, manageable step toward better health.

T: Set time commitments. Pick a date and time to start — Wednesday at breakfast, I’ll add frozen blueberries to cereal — and regular check-in dates: I’ll check my log every week and decide if I should make any changes to succeed. When setting commitments, outside deadlines can be really helpful. Signing up for a charity run or sprint triathlon on a certain date prods you to get a training program under way.

From: http://commonhealth.legacy.wbur.org/2011/04/smart-freshstart-goals

Spring into New Goals

Posted by Leah Carlin

Everything seems possible in spring. It’s the season of hope, of fresh life and new beginnings. It has started to feel like Spring this month and with that brings an energy that provides the perfect opportunity to set our intentions, to start the process and achieve the changes we want in our lives.

leah

For the month of March, we are taking advantage of Spring and our goal is to REFRESH & RE-ENERGIZE. We are ready to break old patterns and to start to feel motivated and inspired. We want to set new goals.

What are some things you used to do but don’t do anymore? You might find yourself wishing you made time for it.

What are some things you keep saying you will do, but just haven’t got around to it?

Let’s set some realistic goals together and take care of our well-being by watering our “mental and physical gardens.”

katja

Here are five steps to take advantage of the season and achieve your goals.

1. Look at where you are now

With no judgment, define your reality. Take a snapshot of your life right now. Figure out what is working, what’s not and assess areas like career, personal care, relationships, finances, diet, etc. Break it all down, and be honest with yourself.

2. Look at where you want to be tomorrow

Clearly, honestly and without judgement – define your goals. Include what the end result will look and feel like.

3. Identify the blocks and challenges

If you’re trying to make real changes, you must identify the limiting beliefs that are holding you back. If your goal is to have six-pack abs or a more money saved by June, but you’ve never stepped foot in a gym or have a savings account, take a step back to reevaluate.

4. Take action

Spring is the time to bloom. The new springtime seeds have been planted, but YOU must commit to nurturing, cultivating and watering your goals.

5. Enjoy what you’ve created

Now that you’ve become a good gardener, figuratively, it’s time to enjoy the harvest. Give yourself credit for setting goals. Even if it may take some time to achieve them, you should celebrate the small successes!

vicki

Source: http://www.sheknows.com/health-and-wellness/articles/1080966/spring-best-time-set-goals

home is wherever YOU are

Home is wherever YOU are

Written by Rajath D.M., Master’s candidate at Technische Universiteit Eindhoven (TU/e)

How do we define home?

This is rather a personal question which has different depths of meaning to everyone in the world. But it can still be categorized into family, friends, food and hobbies.

Motivational speakers, priests and even saints tell us that we find true happiness and peace at every location and then we are at home. This seems rather hard to understand and digest, but I will try to illustrate with my own anecdote.

First Time Away from Home

At the age of 13, living in India where I am from, I moved away from my parents to live at boarding school. It was my intention to go to a boarding school as it was mystery to me at that age. I convinced my parents to put me in a nearby boarding school and I was excited while buying all the new things such as clothes, daily accessories, and many more. I still remember the first day when my parents dropped me off and I arranged my room. I was staying with three other people and I was happy to meet new people from all over my state/province.

The reality settled in the next day. I was missing all the luxury aspects of living with my parents. As you move in to a new place, your behavior changes anddear-mom-and-dad tries to adjust to new reality. I missed my parents, my old friends and the city I grew up in. I was miserable and I was crying every day. During this time, there were no mobile phones so I started writing letters to my parents begging them to take me back. I promised that I would be a good boy and behave in the utmost respectful way if they took me back. I cried for two weeks straight.

My parents were only allowed to meet me once a month. When
they met me, I cried the whole day. My father taught me the lesson of life right then. He did not let me be with my mother so that she would not have change of heart. The whole day he boosted the courage saying that this experience was a test and how I could face it. He convinced me to stay there for a year, just a year, and then I could move back.

Challenge Accepted. Finding Home.

Well, in the end I accepted his challenge and stayed. I started to find my holdings. I made friends, learned new skills, started eating different food and tried to understand what made me happy. I could honestly say that I did find home there because I could talk to my friends about my achievements and fears, learned to enjoy new food and new hobbies.

The most important part was, whenever I felt at a loss and miserable, I had a foundation to get support from. I am happy to say that from then on I have always stayed in different cities and met many new people. The longest I have stayed in any city is about four years!


“…whenever I felt at a loss and miserable, I had a foundation to get support from.”


Adjusting to Life in Eindhoven

Before moving to the Netherlands, I had never left India. I moved to Eindhoven to pursue my master’s. Eindhoven is my first ever first world city to visit and stay. I was not hesitant to move to new place because I had already moved 5 times. But this time, I was not moving within my province or country or even the same continent. I was moving to something completely different from what I experienced before in my life.

Adjusting to life in the Netherlands, there are dramatic changes such as lifestyle, food, culture, religion, technology, language and even education. Actually these new experiences are the most interesting part to me. These dramatic changes are what drives me to do new things.

The first question my family and friends asked was if I felt anxious or even scared to move so far away. I did not feel those emotions because I was eager to move and witness all of these new things. On my first day in Eindhoven, which I still vividly remember, I went to the hotel with all my luggage and I was happy to see the city so well planned and structured. My phone charger would not fit the sockets here and I could not contact my family. I did not know where to go and also what to eat. I did not have any friends to talk to and I did not know any place to go and drink. All the shops were closed by 6 in the evening and there were barely any people walking on the streets. These little things started to annoy  me and then the boredom set in. The first thing that came to my mind was, “Why did I make this decision to move?”

But I tried to push these worries aside and I went to the hotel lobby and asked them if they could help me charge my phone. They had adapters and also chargers. Though a seemingly meaningless event, this was the first lesson I learned: people are friendly if you are friendly to them and they are happy to help you if they can.

I started to integrate with the international community of students from TU/e and over time, everything worked the way it had before at boarding school. I made friends, started to cook the food I like, enjoyed the cuisine here and started cultivating new hobbies. I do not intend to say that everything was easy, but I have to stress that I intended to have an open mind and to learn and do new things. I could eventually find my place and build a foundation in Eindhoven.

“I do not intend to say that everything was easy, but I have to stress that I intended to have an open mind and to learn and do new things.”


home-is-what-you-make-it

I have been now living in Eindhoven for more than one year and a half. The city feels more home to me rather than any other place. So in the end, finding friends, hobbies, and favorite places to eat are the things that make me feel at home, no matter where I am living. Sometimes continuing the hobbies, talking to my family or an old friend, going on short trips and also meeting old friends at the new place keeps the feeling of being at home as well. Even though I have traveled half way across the world, I can still meet people who share same taste of music, entertainment, hobbies and ideas. Because of this, I can still make HOME wherever I AM.

“So in the end, finding friends, hobbies, and favorite places to eat are the things that make me feel at home, no matter where I am living.”

Rajath is a Master’s student at TU/e. rajathsun@gmail.com
rajath

Do you want to write a blog post about being an International in the Netherlands? Send us an email at IPSNeindhoven@gmail.com!

“I want the world to see and know what I am truly thankful for”

Written by Vicki van Eeghem

In the month of February, we are focusing on what makes us grateful. Well for starters let’s look at the meaning of the word.

Webster’s Dictionary defines the word Grateful as:

  1. Appreciation of benefits received
  2. Expressing gratitude (grateful thanks)
  3. Affording pleasure or contentment.
  4. Pleasing by reason of comfort supplied or discomfort alleviated.

We can be grateful for our health, our families, that we have a roof over our head, a meal in our bellies or our freedoms. There is so much in our lives that we can be thankful for that unfortunately, we quite often take it all for granted. Well I don’t know about you but I don’t want to take things for granted it anymore. I want the world to see and know what I am truly thankful for.

So, I would like to share with you that I am most grateful for my husband, Leon. He is the greatest gift I have ever received. I do not say that lightly or without reflection upon our relationship. See he came into my life when I was at a very dark point. I had been raped a couple of years earlier and I had lost faith and trust in pretty much everyone. I never told anyone what had happened to me because I was ashamed and I thought that it was all my fault. Well. Leon and I met by chance in an internet chat room when I was waiting for my sister to come online. Some may call it a random fluke that we met, others may say destiny but I believe he was an answer to prayer. Because he was here in the Netherlands and I was in Canada, we could develop a friendship that was different than meeting face to face. Often, we would talk for hours on the phone and we did this for a long time before we first met. He was the first person I told what had happened to me and that took almost 2 years of being friends before I felt I could share. But for him, he saw past the sad, hurt and insecure person from the beginning and wanted to be my friend. Our friendship and ultimately our romantic relationship was based upon knowing the real person. The person inside. As then as now, he is supportive, offers me unconditional love and he has taught me to believe again. Leon is the best person I know. He never says an unkind word about anyone. He will walk a mile barefoot over glass to help someone but what I am especially grateful for is that he makes me laugh. He truly is a gift.

This month we celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. I am so blessed and so proud to have him in my life and I am so grateful to God that he gave someone to me who loves me for who I am. I pray you all find the same love and acceptance in your lives and are the same in return to all those who share your life.

Happy February!

Vicki

“‘With sharing comes healing”

Make your own Jar of Happiness!

Written by Katja Alexandrova

eb62fb0b54703ed94f46c23b72c04dc9

Many years ago when I still had summer vacations at school, my mom has introduced me to the home conservation of vegetables and fruits. Each summer instead of going somewhere to visit places we made ourselves busy with the process of preservation of all those cucumbers, tomatoes, cherries, apples, berries of all kinds and mixtures of everything. Why did we do it? Well, I think there were several reasons behind it, although we have not discussed them, we just got into the process and carried it out, preparing for long winter…. Was it our attempt to conserve a bit of summer life with its colors, smells, the sunshine, refreshing fragrance of warm summer rain, long nights filled with the sound of crickets, clear dark sky full of stars, so then on rainy, gloomy days, a jar filled with “summer” will be a reminder of the bright and warm time of the year? Maybe… But there were more than that.You open one of these pots full of amber apricots in the marvelous sea of syrup and the whole palate of summer come out of it, filling you with dear memories that you can share with your family and friends while enjoying a cup of tea.

Back then we did not know anything about the Jar of Happiness. Only recently it attracted my attention and I got curious about it

blue_phone_case

The jar (or any other vessel) can be filled in with all kind of good and nice things, emotions that happened to us during a year: happy memories, small things that gave a reason to smile, small and big victories, challenges that we overcome. 2017 has just begun. Isn’t it a perfect time to start filling in your Jar? A jar can take any form you want: it can be your diary, your paintings, photos with the moments when you had a great time, pieces of paper where you write something that you were grateful for at that exact moment, your emotions, names of people that inspired and changed your life, pebbles from different places, flowers, dry leaves or maybe even glass jars filled with jam or sauces as we did with my mom? It is up to you, as well as the time when you would like to open your pot.

Would you like to give it a try? All you need is your will, a bit of your time and a jar/box/album to collect and preserve your best memories of 2017. Then maybe at the end of the year or whenever you would feel like you will open it and get a bit of happiness for yourself and people around you.

Want some instructions how to start and keep a Happiness Jar? Read here a few tips: Keep-a-Happiness-Jar

1-21000px

Need a bit of inspiration? Well, they say we can learn from a child: “She mixes the smell of warm biscuits and the seaside with the taste of chocolate ice cream, apple juice and the warmth of sunshine. She fills the jar and visits her loved ones to share her invention” Reference.

So simple it is…

Hopefully, our next meeting that will be in  February will bring into your life some positive thoughts and emotions that you would like to keep in your “Jar of Happiness” and pass it on. It would be really great if you might want to share with us photos and ingredients from your “Jar of Happiness” and who knows maybe your components will cheer up someone, remind about the bright sides of the life or just simply create a smile on someone’s face.

Warm regards,

Katja

hapj

Save