family fun

Emptying the Gratitude Jar

My family and I just celebrated the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, and this is exactly when we began using our Gratitude Jar last year. I’ve posted about the Gratitude Jar before so forgive me while I fill in those who are unfamiliar with the concept. gratitude jar

I simply placed a large mason jar on my kitchen counter, put a Post It note on the side and wrote “Gratitude Jar” on it (okay, so creativity may not be my strong suit). I then put the rest of the pile of Post It’s on top with a pen. I told my family that we were going to try an experiment – that the Jar would rest on our counter for the next year and that we all were to “capture” positive moments or thoughts, write them down and place them inside.  We could write down ANYTHING we were grateful for, no matter how big or small. There was no “right,” or more importantly “wrong” way to do this. I explained that it would be fun, and that it would help us to tune in to things that were going well, rather than focus our energy on that which wasn’t.

Everyone agreed to participate. I even sent my daughter off to college with her own Gratitude Jar.

Here’s what unfolded over the course of the year:

The jar filled up. That’s what I could SEE, but so much more took place. Because of the experiment, I attempted to stay focused on things I could be grateful for, even when it seemed like there wasn’t much at the time. If I was having a blue day, I’d be reminded when I walked by the jar that I had much to be thankful for, despite being at a loss for the specifics in that moment. The sound of the jar had an effect – I would open the jar to place a note inside and my son would yell from the other room that he heard me, and I could hear the smile in his voice.

Gratitude and good feelings have a way of spreading.

If too much time passed without my putting a note in the jar, I’d know to check in with myself. Where was my head? I probably needed to shift back to positivity….and I would challenge myself to find something to write about, and could always find SOMETHING. It would undoubtedly put me on a better path.

Sometimes people would be visiting and they’d ask what the Jar was for. Not only was it a conversation piece but it was always in those moments of explaining that I recommitted to utilizing the Jar. Some guests were so excited by the idea that they contributed then and there.

Here’s what took place last week:

My family and I had decided that we would empty the Jar on Rosh Hashanah and share our captured moments. We dumped the notes out and took turns taking a note from the pile randomly and reading aloud. Words won’t serve to describe what that experience was like for me.

My daughter remembered to bring home the beautiful notes she had written over the course of the year (without being reminded). My husband, who I hadn’t realized was participating regularly (he had been recording his gratitude on his work computer), wrote notes that surprised me and served to bring us closer. My sons’ notes ranged from being thankful for food to eat to being grateful for good health and amazing accomplishments.

There were “stealth” notes too – comments that people outside of our immediate family deposited while we weren’t looking. We had so much fun discovering them!

Themes emerged – we found that we often mirrored back to each other the things we appreciated most in one another.

We laughed as we remembered things we had done. We got emotional as we remembered how we felt. We connected. We reoriented ourselves to one another and recommitted to the things that are important to us. We all squeezed each other afterward and talked about how special, successful, and gratifying our experiment had been.

Then my youngest son took a Sharpie and wrote “Year 2” under the “Gratitude Jar” Post It on our empty jar. And when I looked at it that night before I went up to bed, there were several notes in it already waiting to be read next year.

Warmest Regards, Laurie

 

Laurie Leinwand is a Professional Life Coach assisting clients with a variety of personal and professional life issues. Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching encompasses Laurie’s work as a life coach for women and men, career life coach and work-life balance coach.

Some of the topics of focus in her practice as a professional life coach are assisting and supporting individuals that are stay at home parents (stay at home moms and dads are constantly forced to adapt to their current circumstances as their children grow and change) as well as those returning to work. Laurie works with people reentering the workforce who are unsure of their direction and interested in cultivating professional development skills and support.

Laurie also provides personal development assistance with regard to powerful issues such as how to make a change in your life and finding fulfillment and your life purpose. In addition, she works with clients interested in learning how to say no and setting boundaries.

Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching is located in Randolph, NJ and services the surrounding communities of Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Florham Park and Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, though much of her coaching is done on the phone and is accessible to clients worldwide.  Laurie is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the New Jersey Professional Coaches Association (ICF-NJ).

The Power of Play

I was talking with a friend recently and we fell into a discussion about how perfectionism and wanting things “just so” often slowed us down, or kept us from moving forward altogether.

He then told me a beautiful story about how he had been building with blocks with his young daughter. He was so focused on creating a solid structure that he found himself constructing a perfect pyramid. This was incredibly annoying to his daughter who seemed to be far more interested in playing with the blocks and having fun. Finally, my friend succumbed as his daughter convinced him to build something “her” way.

What they ended up constructing swayed back and forth and teetered on the edge of collapse but ironically reached far greater heights than any of his previous efforts had.block tower

We laughed as he shared this story because it illustrated the “power” of play and the importance of having the freedom to be creative and ‘color outside the lines.’ It made me contemplate the new heights I could reach if I threw the rule book aside once in a while and gave myself permission to play just for play’s sake.

I’ve decided it’s way more important than I had imagined and I’m determined to incorporate more of the spirit of play into both my professional AND personal arenas.

How often do YOU play?

Warmly, Laurie

Laurie Leinwand is a Professional Life Coach assisting clients with a variety of personal and professional life issues. Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching encompasses Laurie’s work as a life coach for women, career life coach and work-life balance coach.

Some of the topics of focus in her practice as a professional life coach are assisting and supporting individuals that are stay at home parents (stay at home moms and dads are constantly forced to adapt to their current circumstances as their children grow and change) as well as those returning to work. Laurie works with people reentering the workforce who are unsure of their direction and interested in cultivating professional development skills and support.

Laurie also provides personal development assistance with regard to powerful issues such as how to make a change in your life and finding fulfillment and your life purpose. In addition, she works with clients interested in learning how to say no and setting boundaries.

Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching is located in Randolph, NJ and services the surrounding communities of Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Florham Park and Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, though much of her coaching is done on the phone and is accessible to clients worldwide.  Laurie is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the New Jersey Professional Coaches Association (ICF-NJ).

A Jar of Gratitude

I bought this jar which now makes its new home on my kitchen counter with a pad of post-its and a pen on top. Its purpose is to house all that my husband, kids and I are grateful for in the coming year.

We jot down the things we are thankful for, fold the notes and drop them in the jar without reading what others have written. We are enjoying the process of watching these little papers of appreciation accumulate. As the jar fills, glancing at it reminds me that I am fortunate, without my even needing to be fully aware of the specifics. I now more often approach all that I do from a place of abundance, rather than from a place of wanting, or scarcity.

gratitude jarFilling the jar of gratitude is a feel-good activity.  It requires that I focus on everything that’s going well. I am forced to look at my life through a lens of positivity. I’m less likely to miss opportunities to take note of the things that make me smile and I’m eager to find more things to write!

For my daughter away at school, I sent her with her own jar of gratitude to place on her desk and fill at her own discretion.

A year from now, I’ll sit with my family and we’ll remove the notes we’ve all amassed one by one, read them aloud and conduct our “year in review.” I look forward to this becoming an annual tradition.  And I hope that it serves to shape the way my children see their world.

How would a Gratitude Jar change your world?

Warmly, Laurie

Laurie Leinwand is a Professional Life Coach assisting clients with a variety of personal and professional life issues. Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching encompasses Laurie’s work as a life coach for women and men, career life coach and work-life balance coach.

Some of the topics of focus in her practice as a professional life coach are assisting and supporting individuals that are stay at home parents (stay at home moms and dads are constantly forced to adapt to their current circumstances as their children grow and change) as well as those returning to work. Laurie works with people reentering the workforce who are unsure of their direction and interested in cultivating professional development skills and support.

Laurie also provides personal development assistance with regard to powerful issues such as how to make a change in your life and finding fulfillment and your life purpose. In addition, she works with clients interested in learning how to say no and setting boundaries.

Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching is located in Randolph, NJ and services the surrounding communities of Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Florham Park and Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, though much of her coaching is done on the phone and is accessible to clients worldwide.  Laurie is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the New Jersey Professional Coaches Association (NJPCA).

Full on Fun with Family

As we wind up summer, my family and I went to an amazing place called Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. It was a day filled with lots of silliness and giggles as we posed with various sculptures, made up our own names for them and tried to guess what they represented. The stories we constructed made us laugh so hard sometimes we almost cried. sculpture garden men in line

I feel so fortunate that we are able to experience days like that one.  With all the running around that we do and everyone’s crazy schedules, it’s sometimes hard to be fully in the moment and simply let go and enjoy to the fullest without thinking about what comes next.

Days like that I want to cherish forever. We document them with pictures and in writing as well.

This way the joy that we experienced continues on and has a lasting legacy.

Make sure you’re not moving so fast that you forget to have fun. And when you do have those silly, funny, pure moments of gleeful deliciousness, find a way to hold on to them so that you can remember and relive them time and again (especially when the busy times feel like they’ve taken over).

So grab your family members or friends and go have some fun and be sure to document it in some way so the laughs and smiles keep on coming!

Warmly, Laurie

Laurie Leinwand is a Professional Life Coach assisting clients with a variety of personal and professional life issues. Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching encompasses Laurie’s work as a life coach for women and men, career life coach and work-life balance coach.

Some of the topics of focus in her practice as a professional life coach are assisting and supporting individuals that are stay at home parents (stay at home moms and dads are constantly forced to adapt to their current circumstances as their children grow and change) as well as those returning to work. Laurie works with people reentering the workforce who are unsure of their direction and interested in cultivating professional development skills and support.

Laurie also provides personal development assistance with regard to powerful issues such as how to make a change in your life and finding fulfillment and your life purpose. In addition, she works with clients interested in learning how to say no and setting boundaries.

Ideas 2 Action Life Coaching is located in Randolph, NJ and services the surrounding communities of Morristown, Denville, Parsippany, Florham Park and Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, though much of her coaching is done on the phone and is accessible to clients worldwide.  Laurie is a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF) and the New Jersey Professional Coaches Association (NJPCA).

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