Living a Grateful Life

The season of gratitude is upon us...Thanksgiving is just around the corner. For me, living a grateful life is living defined...not just a season, but a way of life. The photo above is a wall art in my kitchen serving as a daily reminder of grateful living. The Inspired Room has a great list of 20 Little Attitudes of Gratitude. I have my usual top three to share that have helped me cultivate an attidute of gratitude essential to simple and joyful living.

3 Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude

1. Journaling

I used to have a dedicated blogsite for what I call my {Simply Grateful} posts (they are now consolidated here for simplification). They are my personal journals of thanksgiving, which are normally entered as bulleted lists, as there are numerous things I am always grateful for everyday.

Here is my {Simply Grateful} list for this week:
  • pumpkins on the pier

  • having the company of DH Russ and DD Isabella at church

  • a wonderful message on marriage (note to self to make a separate post for this topic)

  • sharing in Isabella's joy when we took her to watch High School Musical 3 after church

  • for the grace of being able to find joy in days that may not be as joyful
There are days when we are thrown a "curve ball". It happens to all of us every now and then. It's the enemy's way of trying to steal our joy. But when we are centered or balanced from joyful living brought about by an attitude of gratitude, we can hit even a curve ball. That's when you give the enemy a black eye. That's when you show the enemy you're a powerful woman.

Tuesdays are normally my "creative" day and I look forward to well, doing something it writing or organizing or decorating. I also look forward to attending my body flow class, my holistic workout of choice. Well, this particular Tuesday, our son Ian called from school and the school nurse advised I take him to a doctor as she suspects a pink eye. Most of the day was spent at the Urgent Care and at Rite Aid. So I decided to use the time as precious bonding time with my highschooler. Ian is taller than I am now and yet the pharmacist at Rite Aid thought he's an 8th or 9th grader. She said he has baby face (I quickly reminded him that it is from good genes:) and something to be very grateful for). We had a nice mommy-son time as this particular son enjoys teasing and tickling me. I even got him to do some chores with a smile. I think it was one of my best "creative" days...I think I hit the curve ball way out of the ballpark...and I am {Simply Grateful}.

2. Quiet Time

See my post on Once Upon a Solitude where I shared 3 Inspirations for a Rewarding Quiet Time. I cannot stress enough the importance of a personal quiet time in my life. I can see and feel the difference in my day when I am not able to make time for it. I don't feel centered and therefore I am easily thrown off balance by some of life's "curve balls".

3. Walls of Gratitude

Like the inspirational wall art in my kitchen, I love surrounding myself with reminders of grateful living. I also made an inspiration wall in my office area in our masters bedroom (still in progress), which I placed intentionally as the first thing I see the moment I open my eyes when I wake up in the morning.

This inspiration wall is filled with things that are close to my heart, like memories of precious family togetherness, faith notes post-its, and other things that serve as reminders of a joyful life. It's a great way to wake up, stretch, and say a quick thank you for another day with wonderful possibilities.

Then there's a wall art in my bathroom that says: "Joyful is a Happy Heart" the next thing I see as I brush my teeth:)

And when I go to the kitchen to prepare breakfast there are yet several inspiring wall arts reminding and greeting me daily.

Well that's my top 3 suggestions in cultivating an attitude of gratitude so essential in living a simple and joyful life.

"Smaller with Bigger Soul" Home

"Not everything that can be counted counts,
and not everything that counts can be counted."
-Albert Einstein-

I used to think bigger is always better...until we found our home by the sea. I never thought I would prefer a smaller house. But it was like love at first sight (as with all our homes:)). I remember previewing over 20 properties in one weekend. I also remember 2 homes that stood out from the rest. They were completely opposite was big and exquisite while the other, now our home, is a smaller single level home that nurtures the soul. I am so glad I followed my heart (or should I say led my heart...since my then "bigger is better" mentality was trying to confuse my disposition). By the grace of God I was guided in choosing a home that feeds the spirit. My used to be "bigger is better" perspective is now superseded by a more refreshing and inspiring outlook on our not so big home I now call..."smaller with bigger soul".

3 Benefits of a "Smaller with Bigger Soul" Home:

1. Favors the quality of its spaces over the quantity.

We used to have a 3,642 square foot home that had a lot of wasted and unused spaces. Of the 5 bedrooms, not including the retreat off the masters nor the office loft, we only used 3. Our family love staying together in one room. We also only used 2 1/2 of the 4 1/2 bathrooms. Our formal spaces were only used pretty much when we have company. Then there was the separate third car garage I converted into a craft room (check out photo here) only to find out I felt so detached from the rest of the family.

Our present just-a-little-over 2000 square foot "smaller with bigger soul" home has each space in use every day. It feels so nourshing to the soul to see the whole family at work in every space. Our formal dining room is a conducive study area. The boys room doubles as a play room, while Isabella's room doubles as a dance practice room. Both rooms even work overtime as a guest room when company comes. Our master's bedroom has an area for home office and an area for "retreat".

2. Nurturing and welcoming over impressing and overwhelming

The grand entrance of our then bigger home, with its curved staircase and soaring ceilings spanning 2 levels and more, is designed to impress and overwhelm.

Our now open and inviting home is designed to nurture and welcome. Though the ceilings do not boast of soaring height, its 11 foot ceilings and open floor plan invites a lot of natural light in, bringing warmth to its gleaming hardwood floors that say "come on in". Comfort is born of smaller scale. Whenever I pause and sit down to savour the warmth and beauty of our "smaller with bigger soul" home, I feel its warm embrace anywhere I am in the house.

3. Efficiency

One of the biggest benefit I found in downsizing from a big house is efficiency. There’s less square footage to heat and cool, fewer rooms to declutter and clean. A big house becomes just one more chore to maintain. A smaller home inspires me daily with feelings of appreciation for the richness that abound. A great example of "Less is More". Less time cleaning, more time to enjoy the fruits of my labour.

Looking back now, I can't believe I thought I would not prefer a smaller home. And I can't believe I even thought I would grieve downsizing from our big home for a long time (confession time). Thank God for turning what I thought would be grief to joy beyond words. Our "smaller with bigger soul" home invited me into solitude bringing me to a whole new me.

These are just my own perspective from my personal experience in downsizing.
What about you? Would you prefer a smaller home over a bigger one?

This post has been inspired by Melissa of The Inspired Room and she has some wonderful ideas on Small House? 10 Big Ideas
I consider it a great blessing chancing upon this very inspiring blog. It's a source of inspiration for me and I absolutely recommend it.

Pumpkins on the Pier '08

It's Pumpkins on the Pier once again. Russ arrived early this morning in time for breakfast and the 8th annual trick or treat extravaganza of the City of Pismo Beach.

We took Isabella and she had a grand time decorating her pumpkin.

Meet Mrs. Einstein....her decorated pumpkin complete with glasses.

She entered Mrs. Einstein in the decorating contest

Mrs. Einstein is the only one with glasses amongst all the entries.

Isabella had time for a quick face painting before announcement of the winning pumpkins.

Here is Mrs. Einstein in the winner's table (smiling despite her fallen ear:) as she won most creative in the 9-12 yr. old age group.

And here's proud dad with Mrs. Einstein and darling daughter with spider on her face.

Then off we go trick-or-treating at the shops. It was a very fun morning for us. Our fun day is not over yet... a short break and we're off to Isabella's ballet practice for CDMA's 1st ballet production come December. She had fun practicing as a french doll for Babes in Toyland. And of course we brought Mrs. Einstein with us to show her friends and teachers. They all thought she was pretty creative.

Library: A blessing from the trying economic times

Tuesday is becoming library day for us. Another positive outcome of the trying economic times. Bye-bye bookstore, hello library! Isabella was so excited when I picked her up from school today. She placed some books on hold last week and can't wait to get them. As soon as we got to the library we headed right away to the "hold" section. I quickly searched the held books under the letter "P". It wasn't hard to find hers. Her name dominated the section. I thought she held a book or two but there were 6 books waiting for her. She couldn't contain her excitement and couldn't decide which one to read first. Her excitement rubbed off on me and I started to find some books for myself. She found one for me and recommended I read it when she is not around to calm me down in times of stress. It's a book on stress management. You see, Isabella is my personal stress manager...the one who reminds me I'm "too blessed to be stressed" and the one who helps me "breathe" during my trying moments. Well, in moments such as this, I do need to take a deep breath...not for stress management but to savour God's goodness for the daily reminder that we are all "too blessed to be stressed" if we choose to be...despite, or in this case, especially during the trying economic times. I am simply grateful.

Isabella turns 9!

Our family princess is 9 years old today. Happy Birthday Isabella! Her birthday celebrations started yesterday when her brother Immanuel arrived from Union City (with 2 of his buddies, Jonick and Logan. Isabella's guests are teen-age boys:).

She had a great time shopping for ingredients and making cup cakes for her class with the help of her loving brothers.

"My cupcakes were a hit!" she raves after school today. "My classmates loved them and said they were glad I was born". She thanked her brothers with lots of hugs and kisses.

Then we feasted on yummy ribs and hamburgers barbequed by Phil.
Immanuel gave her a movie entitled Another Cinderella Story with Selena Gomez, one of her fave Disney star. She got the boys to watch with her...a perfect ending to her great 9th birthday.

It was a simple and intimate birthday celebration, a nice change from the elaborate birthday parties ("filipino style") we have gotten accustomed to, not to mention befitting to the simple life. As with anything, they both have their own pluses and minuses. Maybe next year when she turns double digits we'll change back to the big party. Party planning these days for me would not be in harmony to the simple living I am trying to lead. The distance between the two homes and my mom being away will make it a complicated endeavour. Thank God Isabella is happy either way. Thanks to her brothers also for making it special for her as always.

Another part of our celebration included a look back down memory lane starting with her scrapbook and some movie clips. Here are some old birthday photos: (there's so much to share...we picked just a few)

sorry we can't seem to find 2nd birthday

3rd birthday was the start of the princess parties. And of course a princess party would not be complete without a castle. It sort of became a tradition for the coming birthdays until her big 7th.

Sorry we can't find photos for 6th either.

But we have a ton of photos for her 7th birthday bash. It was the time when we moved back to our old house. A time when her brothers "hosted" complete with games galore including a fashion show and dance numbers...her brothers even "showed" how "it" (dancing) is done. They would not normally dance in public but they did that day for their darling little sister. We had a great time watching the video...very funny.

This is her last year in the single digit. Our little princess is growing up. Well, as with our boys, they will all forever be our "babies":)

Dance Shoes

I took a picture of Isabella's old dance shoes before I donate them. She went through these in one year. They remind me of the Mastercard "priceless" commercials.
Ballet shoes------$25.00
Jazz shoes-------$35.00
Tap shoes-------$65.00
Passion for dance-----Priceless!

Banana Bread Day

It was minimum day for Isabella all last week for parent-teacher conferences. We had time for banana bread baking day and library day. It was a great week for mommy-daughter bonding. We even had a day for a lunch date at Splash Cafe. Her big brother, Ian, also joined us for some library time. It was a blessed week for quality family time not to mention her superb academic marks. I am simply grateful.

She also had some quality fun bonding time with her other big brother, Phil, while he made his "robot" project. It was exciting and inspiring for she's also intrigued with electronics.:)

Who is that cute girl in the window?

Isabella was a freeze model last Friday for a grand opening of Synergy Salon in Arroyo Grande. They asked Coastal Dance for some models and Isabella jumped at the opportunity (literally!). She was so excited as she "freeze modeled" to her heart's content together with her friends and dance troupe mates.

Shell Beach Show

Another performance show for Isabella today and, as always, another great family time for us. The boys were there as usual to support their baby sister. It was held at Isabella's elementary school. The boys brought their basketball and had a fun time playing before the performance.

A great backdrop don't you think?

This is the last time these girls are performing these dances. The troupe are presently working on new numbers.
Good-bye to Cooties.

Good-Bye to Shop Around

And Good-bye to Billy Jean

The wind blew away Isabella's hat...but these little "pros" are trained "the show must go on"...

Isabella will surely miss these dance numbers but she is always excited to learn new ones.

Once Upon a Solitude

Solitude plays a very important role in my quest for the simple life. Life throws us "curve balls" every once in a while. You know, those times when all of a sudden things seem too overwhelming to handle? When that happens we are thrown out of balance causing us to slip and/or fall. Only when I pause and take time (in solitude), to process the whirlwind of emotions that always accompany these "curve balls", can I regain my equilibrium and bring back the balance we all so desperately need. Through solitude I have come to the discovery, acceptance, and love of my authentic self. It is such a rewarding experience that I make it a part of my daily rituals. It's one of the treasures of the simple life.

The real voyage of discovery
consists not in seeking new landscapes
but in having new eyes.
~Marcel Proust~

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind
Then you will be able to test and approve
what God's will is - His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
~Romans 12:12~

Solitude is an authentic voyage of discovery. In solitude you can change your thoughts; and when you change your thoughts, you change your world. Not because the world changed for you but because of the discovery of yourself and all that is around you. And in this moment of revelation, you come to "see" a different and authentic world and a different and authentic you. A new world and a new you that you come to understand, accept and love.

3 Inspirations for a Rewarding Quiet Time

1. Make Time for Solitude

Try to make time even if only for a short while. Incorporate it in your appointment book. Log it in as quiet time. This will force the balance that we all so desperately need. It is so hard to infuse balance in this busy world we live in, and yet it is very simple. All we need to do is to carve out a personal quiet time. For me, that time is in the morning after I drop off the kids at school and before I start my day. But it can be any time that works for you. It can be very early morning before anyone else is up, or in the middle of the day when you need a break, or at night before bed. Anytime that works best for you is the best time. The important thing is that you take time. Once you do, and it becomes part of your schedule and part of your habit, you will discover the power of silence and the joy it brings.

P.S. life's curve balls target our time for solitude. There are times when we get "out of balance": something comes up and we get distracted, things get hectic and it seems like there's just no time for solitude. I have learned that it is during those "busy" times when I need a time for solitude the most.

2. Find your own place of comfort

Find a place that inspires you. I personally can be just about anywhere to have a quiet time. In my normal day, my quiet place is by the beach (a wonderful blessing I am so grateful for). After I drop off the kids at school, I park by the beach and have my precious quiet time. I look forward to it everyday. As I go to that place, I am excited about what will happen. I know my time there would be something rich and fruitful. It is a place where I retire to nourish my soul. But like I said I can be just about anywhere. I can be in my bedroom, in my garden or even in the bathtub! Anywhere it may be as long as you close the door on distractions and interruptions and discover the power of silence.

3. Find your own things of comfort

Before I even start my quiet time, I always say this little prayer: "May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable to you Oh God. Please talk to me, I am listening". I bring inspirational books to read, my journal to write my thoughts in, and of course, my bible. If I am in my bedroom I like to light a candle and sometimes I put on a soft, soothing music. This is the moment in my day when silence speaks the loudest.

May you find your own time, place and things of comfort for a nourishing and rewarding quiet time. And in so doing may you discover the power of silence and the joy it brings. And last but not least, may you come to know "THE LIGHT" in your own once upon a solitude.

Related Post:

Charming Garden Gates and Doorways...

..that say "Welcome! Come on In...Relax and Enjoy!

I was surfing the web for some photos of doorways and I found these beautiful photos of a few simple yet very charming gates and doors. I love the inspiring look of arches, iron and warm wood. They exude warmth and simplicity that looks very inviting. I thought I'd share them with you.

Kinda remind me of The Secret Garden, one of my darling daughter's favourite stories.

Moving, Merging, Consolidating...Simplifying!

Welcome to my new blog home, {INSPIRED Simplicity}!
Please come in.

I just finished moving my weblogs and I'm finally unpacked (merged, consolidated and simplified that is). Please update your links to my new address. I look forward to hearing from you.

Kindly pardon the dust during this simplification process as I merge my previous two sites, My Life and My Soul, for after all they are one and the same. In efforts to live up to my new blog title and to live my passion in simplicity, I hope you find this new site much simpler and improved as I try to consolidate and, well, keep things simple. In moving forward, I hope to incorporate tips and resources that not only inspire me but that I also find to be very useful in my quest for a simple, authentic and balanced life. May {INSPIRED Simplicity} bring out the simple pleasures and treasures of the simple life.

Planning to Savour the Holidays

stumbled upon photo by: Alexandre Duret-Lutz

It's October already! In the beginning of the year I penciled in goals for each month in my planner. For this month I wrote Christmas preparations (and, of course, my darling daughter's birthday (that'll be a separate post)). I noted this reminder for myself because last year I was overwhelmed and stressed out from late preparations. So this year I'm giving myself enough time to prepare so that I can savour the season and fully enjoy the holidays.

stumbled upon photo by: Anthony

My Pre-Christmas Checklist

a checklist will help keep us on track of our Christmas preparations and help keep things as simple as possible for a joyful Christmas season. This way when Chrismas time comes we can focus and enjoy the reason for the season.

1.) Family photo for Christmas cards

When? - Set Up a time for a photoshoot. Taking into consideration all family members individual busy schedules.

Having 6 members in our family (not counting my mom, who may be celebrating Christmas in Manila this year), with two of our children now adults with busy schedules of their own, it's getting harder and harder to schedule a photoshoot. This year I really need to plan ahead in hopes of having a complete family photo as oppose to the individual collage photos I had to make do with last year (thank goodness I have a great photog BFF).

Where? - Start thinking of a place for the photoshoot. I am deciding between: home? indoor? outdoor? beach?

2.) Family Newsletter

In the last two years, our family newsletters are made available online saving on paper, ink and time. Our newsletter website address is noted on the Christmas cards we send out.

3.) Cards

Hand made cards are not only very satisfying to make, it is a great budget idea for today's trying economic times. I plan to set weekly goals as to how many cards I need to make per week based on how many cards I plan to send out by my deadline.

4.) Gifts

In light of our present economic times, finances dictate for creative gift giving this year.
Stay tuned for my creative gift giving ideas. In the past years I organized my gift list in a spreadsheet. At a glance I can see what I gave to whom in what year. The system allows for easy gift shopping or gift making and avoids the possibility of duplicate presents.

5.) Decorating

I am simply grateful I already have all I need in this department. I normally start putting up our holiday decorations right after thanksgiving. I collected holiday decor over the years by buying most of them after Christmas.

For those of you who still need some holiday decor, I suggest to make note of what you still need so you can start looking for sale items. Or better yet, try to wait and shop for them during the big after Christmas sale.

6.) Entertaining/Family Time

I am not normally a "baking" mom but this year I plan to have a cookie baking day and creative gift making time with my darling daughter (hopefully I can involve the boys too). It would be a great family time to discuss the true meaning of the wonderful holiday season.

Hopefully when Christmas time comes I can actually revel in the joy of the season.

{On Thoughts}

"You are today where your thoughts have brought you;
you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you."
- James Allen

"Change your thoughts,
and you change your world."
-Norman Vincent Peale