Friday, February 27, 2009

Looking at the brighter side...

People seem to pull together when times get tough, and the current economic crisis is no exception. One of my friends recently had an experience that illustrates this point well. My friend lives in a lovely house with a granny flat on the back of the property, which he rents out to a young yuppie and his wife. Things had been going fine, but recently over the course of a few weeks of our current financial crisis, the young man lost his job and his wife was laid off from her work as a receptionist.

Around that time he had a plumbing leak that caused a lot of ceiling and wall damage and was faced with a huge and expensive repair job. Fortunately, as it turns out, he ran into his tenant, and while chatting, they both shared their problems. As it turned out, the young man had done construction work with his father during summer breaks from school, and so they agreed to a barter exchange. He is getting his wall repairs done for the cost of the supplies, while the young man gets a big break on his rent, allowing time for him and his wife to find work and get back on their feet.

As a kid, I remember my Mom and Dad telling my brother and I stories about bartering goods and services during hard times. My grandmother used to sew for neighbors who in turn provided her family with eggs, milk, and other foodstuffs. We may not be experiencing a major world war or a great depression, but many people are finding themselves between a financial rock and a hard place these days. So it makes sense to look at ways to get goods and services that don't require cash.

For some it might be trading babysitting for housecleaning or repair work or for others offering a free ride to the job for help with bookkeeping or taxes. Offering services to a friend, coworker, or a professional in exchange for something they could in turn provide for you is an excellent way to get what you need even when cash flow is low.

Should you find yourself a bit short on cash during these uncertain times, or if you simply wish to keep your overhead down, you might want to consider a little bartering. Think about a special talent or service that you could offer. Then think about services you could use at this time and how you could barter for them. In addition to saving money, you'll also build ties in your community. It can be a win-win situation for all in the end.

Until next week, have a great weekend!

Friday, February 20, 2009

These little things...

Every day, there are things in our lives that we dismiss as luck or chance or simply take for granted. Certainly there are times when events throw us completely off balance or make us feel vulnerable or afraid. But I think that most of the time we are so involved with our daily routine, whether it be with work, errands, chores and the like, that we forget to notice the things around us that make our lives better.

The truth is that, no matter what is going on in our lives, there are no ordinary moments, no minutes or seconds that are meaningless. And most of all, we will never get back those moments that pass without recognition. So, that is why it makes sense to look for and acknowledge the daily gifts that come from the universe.

Only this morning I awoke to hear birds singing outside my window and then got up and made myself a nice hot cup of coffee. Later during the day I came upon my dog taking advantage of a golden patch of sun glowing across my garage floor. I enjoyed some playful moments with my dog, all the while feeling grateful for the little things, the many small pleasant gifts in my life, like hot coffee, a happy dog and singing birds.

At first glance these things may seem rather unimportant, but when I think about what life might be like without them, I appreciate them all the more, and the bigger and more wonderful they seem to be. And if you think about it, you may agree that the little things are what either drive us crazy or make us happy. So, the little things in life really are important, even if they may not seem to be at the time.

For me, the best thing about recognizing such moments is that when I pay attention and open myself up to them, I notice them all the more and feel like I may even attract more of them my way. The end result is that I am happier and more content with my life and consider each day different in its own way.

Beautiful, little miracles happen every day. Flowers bloom, babies are born, the sunshine warms our skin and we get to be a living, breathing part of the living, breathing universe. I hope that this blog post will take the time for you to recognize the warm, special moments that make you feel good about yourself and the world around you. Have great weekend!

Saturday, February 14, 2009


Sometimes I feel that our culture has become too obsessed with the idea of finding happiness. Advertising is constantly bombarding us with products, and lifestyles that promise to make our lives better and easier.

While I am a big believer in seeking contentment in life, I know that a breakfast cereal or certain car model is not going to help me find it. Moreover, I don't believe it is possible to achieve a constant state of happiness. Just think about it, the feeling of being intensely happy never lasts for long. Yes, we can be happy about a new job, extra money or even a bigger car, but such feelings of happiness and elation are fleeting.

The people who seem to have the most contentment in life have something that brings them a sense of purpose. It could be a creative project, involvement helping others or even a spiritual quest. For myself, I have discovered that my work as an adviser is what makes me feel good. However, it is different for everyone and this is what I share with my clients when they come to me needing direction or lacking enthusiasm in their lives. I ask them to think about the things that bring meaning to their life and that give them a sense of purpose and then look for ways to fulfill that purpose.

Sometimes it could be something as small as taking a little walk in nature, tending a garden or calling to check up on a friend or neighbor. The positive feelings these moments bring are mean to be savored. There are many ways to experience contentment in your life. You just have to find what works for you. In my experience, once you start this process, it becomes easier and easier. It is about taking the time to honor our selves and those around us.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

Tough Times...

There is no doubt that we are going through rough times right now. Economic hardships and overall international strife feel very present. That is why this week I have decided to write about transforming our difficult or trying experiences into valuable material for our future successes.

Hardships are never pleasant, but that does not make them bad. They are a natural part of life's ebb and flow. Believe it or not, there are benefits to experiencing hard times. Personal coaches and top psychologists agree that we can learn valuable lessons that will benefit us in the end. Experiencing hardship causes us to re-prioritize our lives. These periods give us the opportunity to think about the things that are important to us and remind us not to take them for granted.

Hardships can also strengthen our relationships and communities. In times of need, people naturally pull together. Friends, it is a survival instinct. These are the times when we need others and they need us. Some of the more powerful stories we read or hear about in the news involve people who showed their true mettle and pulled together when up against struggle and emerged victorious in the end.

Hardships force us to be more innovative by pushing us to seek new directions to overcome obstacles and encourage us to be more flexible and determined. And finally, hardships can also be a humbling experience by reminding us that we are vulnerable and human, just like everyone around us.

I hope that my thoughts will help you to confront the times we are living right now. So the next time you feel the weight of your current difficulties, I hope you will give yourself a pat on the back for all that you're dealing with and give a hug to those who mean so much to you.

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