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Thoughts, Wednesday Wisdom

Finding Forgotten Joys

A few months ago, I was astonished to find my old clarinet buried under a bunch of afghans in our blanket closet.(Yes, I was a band geek in high school. Props to all the rest of you out there.) Anyway, I thought my clarinet had been lost in a house fire back in 2006, so this discovery thrilled me.

Then doubt started to settle in. I graduated high school in 2004, and by that time I had more interest in playing guitar. I literally hadn’t touched a clarinet in over 13 years. Would I be capable of making music with this relic from my past?

So I bought some new reeds and a tube of cork grease. I assembled the horn, and I googled some sheet music from my favorite Disney songs. Bam! Music began flowing out of the ancient instrument like water.  Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely rusty and made mistakes. But like little soldiers, my fingers still remembered the positions drilled into them from years before. I didn’t even squeak that much. And the delight that filled my soul after such a long time is something that I’ll never forget.

People think time travel can only be found in Science-Fiction, but it’s a lie. Sitting in my room playing that clarinet transported me back over a decade. It felt like I was having a conversation with myself at sixteen. And I asked myself what in the heck took so long to come back to something I love.

Helen Keller, one of the true heroes of history, wisely taught us that “What we once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, For all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” And the great Toni Morrison said, “Something that is loved is never lost.” I’m grateful that this lesson has been reinforced so powerfully in my life recently.

Now, some time has gone by and I’m still playing my old clarinet. It makes me happy. It gets my creative juices flowing. And ironically, picking up an old hobby has filled me with more desire to try new things and be more adventurous. I want to have as many marvelous experiences as possible. I want to love this life and make it a part of me. I want to encourage you to do the same.

So if you’re up for a challenge, try this: take a few minutes to think about the things you have loved most in your life. Are there things that you miss? If so, it’s not too late find them again.  Maybe it’s been awhile since you played a pick-up game of basketball with your friends. Maybe you used to paint, or go to the beach, or fish, or play board games. How long has it been since you read a good book just for fun? Whatever you loved when you were younger, chances are that you will love it still. You may be a little rusty and make some mistakes, but I guarantee that the joy you’ll find will surprise and delight you. So rekindle your old passions, find some new ones, and live the vibrant life.

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Thoughts

Hello Goodbye 2017/2018

Well Peeps,

The end of another year is upon us, and I’m not going to lie, this has been a tough one for me. Posts on this blog have been few and far between. I’ve had a lot of personal struggles and haven’t seen as much success in my goals for 2017 as I would have liked, but I’m done licking my wounds and determined to make big changes in this upcoming year. It’s a blessing to have this time to reflect and truly choose to #LiveTheVibrantLife. The future is looking bright!

Here’s a little song to start/end things off in the right way. Best wishes to you and yours and Happy New Year!

Wednesday Wisdom

Embracing Minimalism

Over the last several months, I’ve been re-evaluating my relationship with stuff. I’ve been incredibly blessed in my life to have the things that I need and more. I thank my Heavenly Father for those gifts daily.  But I’ve realized that letting go of some materialistic things can enable me to live life more freely than ever.

I watched a great documentary on Netflix called Minimalism: A Documentary About The Important Things and it really made me think about the kind of possessions I want in my life.  I’m a sentimental person and I love for the things around me to have meaning. By decluttering my life of things that don’t have much value, I am truly a happier person.

That being said, I’m not an extremist. I stand by the philosophy of a happy medium.  Common sense is the most valuable commodity in the world these days. You need to do what works for you in your own life, and I believe it’s important to be thoughtful when making these kind of decisions.

I’d like to encourage all of us to think about all the stuff in our lives and seriously think about eliminating what isn’t working. Perhaps the flowchart below would be a helpful tool in getting started.

Keep living the vibrant life!

 

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Podcast, The Vibrant Life

Episode 5: Kindred Spirits

Yo Peeps! Welcome to The Vibrant Life Podcast where each week we take a look at ways to live life out loud, in color, and on purpose. My name is Emily Romrell and this is Episode 5: Kindred Spirits.  This week I want to focus on the people in our lives, the difference they make, and how to seek out and find more and more wonderful relationships along the way.

C. S. Lewis is a hero of mine, and in my opinion he was one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the twentieth century. The Chronicles of Narnia was probably the first book series that I fell heart and soul in love with as a child. And as and adult, I’ve become attached to his other writings almost as much. He was a true academic and I am fascinated by the way he reaches profound conclusions about God, Love, and Relationships through reasoning things out logically in his mind.

In his very short book called “The Four Loves”, Lewis uses this process of thought experiments to discover the nature of Love. Like I said before Lewis is an academic, so the book is deep and can be difficult to read, but if you give it a chance it could change your life. He goes through four main types: Storge or familial love like that of a parent and child, Philia the love of true friendship, Eros which is romantic love, and Agape or the unconditional love of God.

Each type of love is significant in its own way, but the love I want to talk about today is the second one in Lewis’s quartet: Friendship. According to Lewis, Friendship is a higher level of love because it is something we choose that isn’t absolutely necessary for survival.  He goes on to explain that “Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another: What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” I couldn’t say it any better myself.

As a teenager, I read the Anne of Green Gables series by Lucy Maude Montgomery.

(Quick side note here, I think we will all have to face the fact right now that many of the points I make on this podcast will come from the books I’ve read.  That’s just the kind of person I am, and I heartily believe the maxim that you are what you read.)

Anyway I read the Anne of Green Gables books, and I became captivated with the notion of finding “Kindred Spirits” Anne is an orphan and the beginning of her life is painfully void of true friends or “Kindred Spirits.” But as she is adopted by the Cuthberts and makes friends with the people in the small town of Avonlea she finds out that they aren’t as rare as she once thought. In fact some of the most crotchety and unlikeable people in the stories become her best friends.

Let’s talk about first impressions. Everyone talks about how important they are, and it’s true. We make judgements about people whether we meet them in the grocery store, at a job interview, or if their sitting next to us in church.  We glance at people and because of the clothes they wear or the kind of work they do, we think we know them.

I get pretty annoyed at this, even though I do it myself, because every first impression I’ve had of someone has been such a pale representation of who they really are. Lots of times my ideas about a person have been flat out wrong. But even if my estimation of person is somewhat correct, after I take the time to get to know them I realize how rich and complex and how HUMAN they are. I find myself thinking, “Wow, why didn’t I see this amazing quality about this person before?”

I’ll tell you why I didn’t notice. It’s because I wasn’t paying attention. I was too focused on my own needs or expectations of how our relationship was supposed to play out, that I didn’t see the potential of what a relationship with that person could be.

I’m ashamed to admit that in the past I’ve concluded someone was just another sports jock, or a nerd, or a sales guy only to have those same people surprise me with real conversations about life. I shared some special moments with people that to me at first seemed superficial. I guess that shows us who the superficial person really was.

There’s a fantastic quote in the classic Sci-Fi story “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card. It goes like this: “In the moment when I truly understand my enemy, understand him well enough to defeat him, then in that very moment I also love him. I think it’s impossible to really understand somebody, what they want, what they believe, and not love them the way they love themselves.”

In other words, when you take the time to really know somebody, you will recognize parts of yourself in them and say, “What, you too? I thought I was the only one.” Life gets so busy, and we forget how truly connected we all are with each other. That is the great and wonderful paradox of the human race. We are all so uniquely individually special, and yet we are all so much the same.

According to dictionary.com a Kindred Spirit is a person who shares beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or features with another; also called kindred soul. It’s easy to see the common traits shared with people who like the same music as us, or who root for the same sports team. Those are the easy friendships.  And just because those friendships start more easily doesn’t mean that they aren’t meaningful.

But when you think about the best friends or most kindred spirits of your life, you realize that these are the people that you can really share a piece of your soul with. The people to which you show the most vulnerable parts of yourself, and then they pull out a bit of their soul to show you and say, “You too? I thought I was the only one.”.

I guess what I am trying to say in this podcast is more of a question than a statement. That question is this. When you look at other people what are you going to see? How closely are you willing to look? Because if you’re willing to look with an open heart, you are likely to see a reflection of yourself. You are likely to find a kindred spirit who can make a difference in your life, and whose life you can impact just as much. Then we will all be living the vibrant life together.

Thanks so much for listening. It means a lot that you would take a little time out of your day to spend with me. Please visit the website VibrantLifePodcast.com for past episodes and comments are always welcome. Episode 6: Go with Gusto will air on February 29th 2016. My name is Emily Romrell.  Have a fabulous week, and don’t forget to Live The Vibrant Life.

Podcast, The Vibrant Life

Episode 4: The Happy Medium

Welcome to the Vibrant Life! My name is Emily Romrell. Today is February  15, 2016, and this is Episode 4: The Happy Medium.  This week the focus is all about finding balance. It can be pretty tricky at times, but it’s definitely possible. Finding the Happy Medium is a fundamental part of living a vibrant life.

I love Science Fiction, and I love Children’s books. So you might be able to guess that one of my all time favorite writers is Madeleine L’Engle author of the fabulous book “A Wrinkle in Time.” I love that she uses real science in her writing, and she doesn’t dumb things down for her young readers. I love how she creates endearing characters that stay with you for a long time. One character that I’ve become obsessed with is her Happy Medium.

In “A Wrinkle in Time” the Happy Medium is a psychic woman who lives on a medium gray world. She prefers to only look at the happy things of life and pretends that negativity doesn’t exist. So in the book she is living in a self induced false happiness, and the point to be made in the story is that there are times when you have to choose a side and do the right thing. You can’t be the proverbial fence sitter and ignore the pivotal events happening around you.

In that context a happy medium isn’t a great thing, and I do believe that there are times we must take a stand for what is right in the world.  You can’t compromise your standards or your core beliefs and be happy. There are times when we must be valiant  fighters for truth.

However, I feel that there is a tendency these days to become lopsided in our lives. And this lopsidedness is where addictions are born. Society is full of workaholics, alcoholics, political correctness, TV binge watchers, gym junkies, and junk food addicts.  We are all so easily caught up in some areas of life that we create holes in other areas. Then we try to fill those holes with more of the same things, and we wonder why there are so many problems. The truth is we have created these problems ourselves due to a great lack of happy mediums.

Unlike the Happy Medium in “A Wrinkle in Time” though, we have to face the truth about ourselves and our surroundings. When we can do that, then we will be able to see the holes in our lives and fill them with the right things. We can make ourselves into the people we want to be.

Let’s talk about work life vs. home life for a minute. This is something that can be very difficult to balance.  It’s so easy to let stress from home bleed into your work so that you become distracted and less effective. And conversely a hard day at the office might make you irritable or mentally absent at home.  The drive to make more money can often take us away from the things and people we are trying to support in the first place.  What can we do to prevent this?

One answer is the terrific story of the trouble tree. The story goes like this:

The carpenter I hired to help me restore an old farmhouse had just finished a rough first day on the job. A flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric saw quit, and now his ancient pickup truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree, touching the tips of the branches with both hands. When opening the door he underwent an amazing transformation. His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

“Oh, that’s my trouble tree,” he replied.” I know I can’t help having troubles on the job, but one thing’s for sure, troubles don’t belong in the house with my wife and the children. So I just hang them on the tree every night when I come home. Then in the morning I pick them up again.”

He paused. “Funny thing is,” he smiled, “when I come out in the morning to pick ’em up, there ain’t nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before.”

How much happier would our lives be if we could all plant trouble trees in our hearts. We can plant trouble trees for all kinds of potential problems, not just for work and family. We could hang past regrets on a trouble tree and build a brighter future. We can hang out our temptations to fall into bad habits. We can pick up courage to face each new day with optimism.

Another big part of finding a happy medium is to set priorities, and then go with the flow. In my mind I sort of envision myself as one of those toy race cars that you wind up and then let go. Except unlike the toy cars, we can change directions and most of the time avoid running into walls.

I think it is important to plan out your day and have tasks to accomplish. It’s great to have a checklist of to do items. When you’re motivated its amazing how much you can get done in just 24 hrs. Less time than that really when you factor in sleep.

However, life is crazy and it’s just as important to be flexible when things do go as planned. One of the greatest advantages we have as humans is our capacity to change. Some of the best days are the unexpected adventures that arise from flat tires, wrong directions, or unexpected visitors.

So on one hand you don’t want to become so preoccupied with your to do list that you miss the opportunities each day holds. But on the other hand you don’t want to be lazy or neglectful of the good you can do by proactively getting tasks done.

All I can really say about finding the happy medium here is that it takes practice. No one is perfect. We all have holes that we need to fill in healthy ways. It’s so important for us to remember to be kind to each other. Life is a giant learning curve, and we all have individual lessons to learn. We all have addictions we are trying to overcome. Your holes might be in different places than mine, but we’re all as holey as swiss cheese. Keeping that in mind, I try to keep criticism at a minimum. Let’s all work and build each other up together.

I believe that as we continually look for areas to improve ourselves and build more balance in our lives, that we will be able to find the real Happy Medium. We can live vibrantly in all of the various areas of life. And we won’t have to be psychic to predict a bright future ahead.

Thanks for listening! Comments are always welcome on the website: VibrantLifePodcast.com. Tune in next Monday, February 22 for Episode 5: Kindred Spirits. My name is Emily Romrell. Have a happy week, and don’t forget to Live the Vibrant Life!

Podcast, The Vibrant Life

Episode 3: The First Wealth Is Health

Hello again and welcome to the Vibrant Life! My name is Emily Romrell. Today is Monday February 8th and this is Episode 3: The First Wealth is Health. On this episode,  I’ll talk about the importance of working for and living a healthy lifestyle in all areas of our lives. We’ll go over some tips to becoming healthier physically, mentally, and emotionally. And we’ll talk about how becoming a healthier person is a process that takes time. Thank goodness for that!

Do you have a list of dead heroes? I sort of think we all do even if it’s slightly weird or morbid. When you read or learn about historical figures, there’s something that sparks the imagination and ignites imaginary yet meaningful albeit one sided friendships. And I think these fanciful friendships are healthy and important because they help us to recognize positive traits of  others and develop them in our own lives.

One such friend of mine is the late great Ralph Waldo Emerson. I love his writing and his optimistic outlook on life. He had a wonderful way of picking out the simple truths and joys of life like fruit from a tree and then offering it to us with open arms to taste. I think he was a great man and I’m sure we would’ve been great friends if only we had been born within the same lifetime. The title of today’s episode is a tribute to Emerson because it’s one of his more famous quotes: The First Wealth Is Health.

This is sometimes a tricky subject because the world is flooded with so many ideas of what it means to be healthy and what the right way is to achieve a healthy lifestyle. I’m definitely no expert, and I have a long way to go on my own journey, but that is why I started this podcast. I want it to be a platform where we can learn and grow together.

We all know the basics. Eat right. Exercise. Get enough sleep. But it’s one thing to know what to do and another thing to make it a working part of your life. I’ve tried about a hundred different ways of losing weight and getting in shape but so far I still haven’t created the habits I know are vital. I know I’m not the only one. The only thing we can do is keep on trying until we do build the right habits in our lives

Here’s something I do know. We have to change the way we think. Rather than feeling deprived because we are missing out on things we are used to or comfortable with. We need to recognize the need to build something new and better, and we should get as excited about it as possible. 

As humans I think perhaps our greatest strength is our ability to adapt and change, our ability to make choices in our lives. Isn’t it wonderful to think that whatever  or wherever we are right now, we are just one choice away from becoming a better person.

And it’s important to start small. Choose an apple instead of cookie for a snack. Go out with friends instead of choosing to stay home inside your comfort zone. If you catch yourself thinking a negative thought replace it with two good ones. These small choices we make daily are what our lives are made of.  Little by little we can transform ourselves into the people we want to be.

So let take a look at the three biggest areas of a healthy lifestyle. As I just said I still have a lot to learn, but I do have some tips that have helped me on my adventure so far.

PHYSICAL

Obviously, the first thing to talk about is physical fitness. We all have different objectives here. Many of us like myself are trying to lose weight and increase energy. Some of us are more focused on gaining muscle or training for a marathon. Whatever your goals are, here are a few tips that have helped me tremendously.

  1. Get enough sleep.

If I don’t get a good nights sleep, I know I won’t be worth as much the next day. Sleep is vital to staying alert and focused. It allows our minds to analyze the events of the previous day and prepare for what is coming next. If your body’s tired, your whole life will be tired. Alternatively, when you are rested, you are ready to meet the daily adventure head on.

  1. Vitamins

I personally take Melaleuca Vitamins, and I can’t recommend them highly enough. I can feel the difference when I take them and when I don’t. Most people don’t get the nutrition they need from their diet alone. Since I’ve been taking vitamins I’ve had more energy, more optimism, and I’ve felt a lot healthier.

  1. Regular meals with Fruits and Veggies.

Just because you take vitamins doesn’t mean you don’t need to eat right. Sadly, the most convenient meals today are the least healthy for us. It’s a lot easier to grab a hamburger for lunch than to pack a salad to bring to work. But personal experience has proven to me that when I make the time to each healthier meals, I’m more satisfied and I get hungry less often.

It is also super important to not skip meals and to eat snacks. If you starve yourself the first half of the day, you’ll turn into a ravenous monster at the end of the day. Hanger is real. Give yourself time to enjoy food the right way, and you’ll be a happier person.

  1. Get Active / Involved

Exercise is one of my hardest things. I have an office job where I sit at a desk eight hours a day. When work’s over I’m mentally tired and don’t feel much like working out etc, but that’s exactly when I need to.

I have a gym membership to Planet Fitness, and I think they’re great. I’ve noticed that when I go to the gym after work I am re-energized and my body feels refreshed and ready to take on the evening part of my day.

That is something that works for me. You may be different. A lot of people prefer to exercise early before work. Some people like playing team sports like soccer or basketball. But whatever you do, it’s important to find something. The human body is an incredible machine, and it was made for running, jumping, playing, and loving life.

MENTAL

It’s just as important to keep our minds fit as it is for the rest of our bodies.  Here are some tips for increasing brain power.

  1. Read. A lot

I love books. I love how reading influences your imagination. There is something magical about how our minds work when we read. We are transported into new worlds and discover endless possibilities.

Readers have an advantage from this. When difficult things cross our paths, we have the mental experience to teach us how to beat them. Because we have overcome hard things vicariously from books, we can imagine new solutions to problems in everyday life.

  1. Think Happy Thoughts

This is one of the most important things I have learned so far in my life. I am very hard on myself sometimes in my thoughts. I compare myself to others and think I should be a better person than I am. It is so easy to self criticize and become trapped in a circle of negativity.

Gradually I’ve become very observant of my inner dialogue, and when I find myself thinking negative things about myself or others. I stop and force myself to rethink something positive. By replacing negative thoughts with positive ones our eyes are opened to how great life really is. Gratitude and hopefulness abound. It’s amazing!

  1. Learn New Things

I love facts and trivia. My family members teasingly call me a factoidian. There is so much to learn about in the world, and I love it. They say you get a new wrinkle in your brain every time you learn something new, and I want my brain as wrinkly as possible. The more I learn about the world, the more I am in awe of how majestic and beautiful it really is. I’ve come to realize that each little truth I learn is a puzzle piece helping me understand the bigger picture of the universe one little bit at a time. A healthy brain is a wrinkly brain.

  1.   Visualize

If you play sports, you’re most likely familiar with the power of visualization. I once heard a story about a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp during WW2. He loved to golf, so everyday he would visualize himself playing eighteen holes. He imagined himself taking each swing and his minds eye would follow the imaginary golf ball as it flew across the green. When the war ended and he finally came home he played the best game of golf in his life even though he hadn’t actually played the game in years.

We become what we tell ourselves we are. Visualize yourself succeeding in your endeavors and your almost guaranteed success.

EMOTIONAL

Emotional health is overlooked a lot of times. I guess we just take it for granted, or else we feel that we must simply suck harmful feelings up and get on with life. These are big mistakes. We can never live a vibrant life until we can face our emotions. Here are a few tips for a healthy heart.

  1. Cultivate Special Relationships

A lonely life is not a healthy life. Our relationships with others are our most valuable possessions. Make sure that the people in your life know how much you care about them. Make time for them and support them in the things they are involved in. Listen to them and share your own thoughts and feelings. We are all here to love each other and to help each other reach our vast potential.

  1. Let Go of Emotional Baggage

This is hard to do. Hurt is inescapable sometimes and once something has hurt us, we tend to carry the hurt with us. But when we choose to carry hurt we are unable to carry compassion and understanding. It helps me to remember how human we all are. We all make mistakes. I’ll try to forgive you your shortcomings if you can forgive mine. Then we can move forward together.

  1. Recognize, Accept, & Act on your feelings.

Sometimes we may not realize how much our feelings are holding us back. We may be angry at something for so long that we forget the anger and think what we are living with is normal. This isn’t healthy.  Once we can recognize and accept our feelings, then we can deal with them. We can talk things out if we need to. This can also be very difficult, but our lives will be a lot healthier if we can accept our feelings and then deal with them.

So, as you move forward in the week, maybe you can take a few moments and seek out opportunities to make healthy choices and changes in your life. Start small and see what happens. And if you feel inclined share your experiences. I’d love to hear how it goes. Comments are always welcome on vibrantlifepodcast.com.

Next week Episode 4: The Happy Medium will air on Monday February 15th at 8am MST.  My name is Emily Romrell. Don’t forget to Live the Vibrant Life.