holidays

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).

5 Maintain Your Sanity Strategies for the Holidays

Do you get stressed as the holidays approach?  It doesn’t have to be that way!  Here are 5 strategies to help you make the holidays exactly what you want them to be and enable you to maintain your sanity at the same time:

1.  Start Planning NOW – What needs to happen between now and the holidays to ensure that you are able to enjoy them as much as possible?  Are you hosting a party, do you anticipate going to some, do you have a list of people for whom you will need to get gifts, do you need holiday attire?  Map out what you need to do across the next several weeks so that not everything is saved for the last minute, stressing you out and spoiling your fun.  If you strategically plan out what you need to do, shopping and preparing will be less of a chore and more of a pleasure.  You may not be able to take full advantage of last minute sales, but you’ll save yourself the “procrastinator’s pain” that goes along with them.

2.  Plug Into What Keeps You Calm – Pre-holiday season is NOT the time to ditch your exercise routine and healthy eating habits!  More than ever, you need what anchors you in times of turbulence.  Find time to take a breath here and there to make certain you’re on track and utilizing your energy, resources and time in the most efficient way possible.

3.  Recognize Your Limits – Don’t overschedule or obligate yourself.  Delegate when you can.  Say NO to some things so that you can fully enjoy and embrace the things that mean the most to you.  Be honest with yourself and others about what is reasonable for you to accomplish and what’s not.

 4.  Start Living the Life You Want to Live NOW – Are you waiting until January 1st to make your resolutions?  Why is that day any more meaningful than today?  What would happen if you began to experiment with making the kind of choices you want to be making in your life sooner rather than later?  There is no better way to head into the holidays with optimism and empowerment than by treating yourself well, and by respecting your choices to do right by yourself.

5.  Name What You Want! (and tell others!) – Instead of having people guess what you want for the holidays, let them know.  You can be obvious, or make a game of it, but whatever you do, you will only have yourself to blame if you haven’t been clear about your wishes and desires and end up disappointed that a loved one missed the mark.  You are, in fact, doing others a favor if you DO tell them exactly what would make you happy.  They now have a roadmap and you’ve quite possible reduced the stress they are feeling in connection with the holidays.

Now…what you seek as a special gift may be something that cannot be purchased in stores.

It might be the opportunity to really focus on YOU, what you hope to accomplish in the next year, and a way to formulate, and STICK WITH, a plan to truly make that happen!

Have you thought about making that kind of investment in yourself, but you hesitated or put it off because you’re accustomed to putting others first?  This is your time!  And if you won’t do it for yourself, ASK someone to GIFT it to you!!  The first step in being true to yourself is in asking for what you want.

Stay tuned for a special holiday offer…..

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.

Laurie 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, setting limits and boundaries, as well as balancing work and life.

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.

Catch Your Star
Laurie's chapter in Catch Your Star will inspire you to see CHANGE as a tool to vastly improve your life. She and 19 other experts share definitive strategies for identifying personal values and belief patterns, changing a stuck mindset and tapping into dreams and intuition. Order your autographed copy today!
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