Facilitator + Trainer + Creative Coach |
Based in Connecticut, Working Worldwide

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What Is Taking Your Breath Away Today?

What Is Taking Your Breath Away Today?

What’s taking your breath away today?⁠

For me, it’s the ⁠quiet and steady fall of leaves as we transition more fully into a new season.

Some are already nestled on the forest floor. Others are only just now beginning to let go and drift to earth.⁠

What about you? Are you allowing yourself to move at your own pace and change in your own way?

Whatever you’re working toward, you will get there in your own sweet time.

Believe it.

a photograph of a pink and white wooden mail box with an image of a white envelope and a red heart painted on it

Slow Starts and Sweet Surprises

Slow Starts and Sweet Surprises

To be honest, it always takes me some extra time to warm up to the new year. What about you?

Luckily, I’ve learned that, if you bundle up well, go for a wander, and get curious, you may stumble on a nice surprise.

I sure did, thanks to this sweet Love Letter box I found in the little town of Norfolk, aka the “icebox of Connecticut.”

A note on the box invited people to “write a love letter to someone unknown and to take a note for yourself.”

Imagine my delight when I pulled out this message! –>>> “You are singular and spectacular!”

I mean, c’mon! How great is that?!

Did I keep the note?

Well, I wanted to. But in the end I decided to leave it for the next lucky person.

Because here’s the thing: Every one of us is singular and spectacular. 

To be clear: “Every one” includes you.

Even if you haven’t chosen your word of the year, yet. Or ever.

Even if you’ve already bailed on your New Year’s resolutions.  

And even if you still aren’t sure what to make of the year ahead and your goals for the year have yet to come into focus.

Trust that they will in time.

Meanwhile, repeat after me: “I am singular and spectacular!”

metal heart

Who is your Mrs. Frizzle or Dumbledore?

Who is your Mrs. Frizzle or Dumbledore?

Why am I asking? Because it’s important to give props to the educators* and mentors in your life.

In my experience, the best gift you can give (and receive) is a thank you note (A+ if it’s handwritten).

Even better if you take the time to specifically acknowledge the person AND how they impacted your life.

Is there someone in your life you’d like to show appreciation to? Here are some fill-in-the-blanks to get you started:

Thank you. Because of you I’ve come to love…

You gave me the strength / skills / encouragement I needed to take the next steps toward my dream of…

You inspired me to…

I’ll always remember being in class and that one time we…

I’m grateful for knowing you because you taught me…

You made an impact on my life. What I learned from you is…

Research shows that consistently practicing gratitude has lasting positive effects on our mental health and our relationships.

Pro tip: Make it a habit to practice and express gratitude!

*Special shout-out to all my classroom teachers and also the folks who have taught me extracurricular “life lessons”. You know who you are! 🙂

beach grass waving in the autumn wind against a clear blue sky

Who do you need to thank today?

Who do you need to thank today?

Who is one person you can pause and be grateful for today?

For me, it’s Mrs. Lanka, the babysitter who looked after me when I was about 5 or 6.⁣

Actually, the word babysitter doesn’t really do Mrs. Lanka justice. Because from her I learned all sorts of things — especially, the joy of simple pleasures, like puzzles, reading and baking.⁣

But what I remember most about my days with Mrs. Lanka are our trips to the Bayard Cutting Arboretum on Long Island. I think it was there — seeing the expanse of the Great Lawn or climbing the knotted branches of the giant European Weeping Beech tree — that I fell in love with wandering and wondering. ⁣

Our absolute favorite thing to do was follow the River Walk along the Connetquot River. We’d meander down the labyrinthine paths past all manner of plants — stopping now and then to search out the metal tags that identified the plants and trees. ⁣

Eventually, we would end up on Breezy Island. There we’d unpack whatever treat Mrs. Lanka had packed – maybe a PBJ sandwich or some juicy oranges — and bask in the sun while ducks and geese floated by.⁣

I can still taste those oranges. ⁣

And whenever I see cat o’ nine tails and beach grass, I say a little prayer of thanks to Mrs. Lanka. ⁣

Who do you need to thank today? 

overhead photo of table of colorful pieces of collage paper

Who helped you become who you are?

Who helped you become who you are?

In this season of harvest, I’ve been challenging myself to acknowledge the people who’ve helped me become who I am today and who made my life so full.

Today I’m honoring my father who passed away over a decade ago. I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to represent him with a photo. Then I remembered an experience I had at the festival celebrating the opening of the new Reach extension at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Peering over a balustrade I saw this group of teachers making art, right there for all to see. “How brave!“, I thought. So I snapped this shot and then had a lovely conversation with one of the education staff. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Why is this a big deal? ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
Because I used to be mortified when my father would strike up conversations with anyone and everyone – the clerk at the deli at our local grocery store, the postman, a stranger in an elevator. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
“Justine, just talk to people!” he’d say. “You never know what you’ll learn.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
And there I was doing just that! Talking to and CONNECTING with a total stranger. I never could have envisioned being able to do this all those years ago when I’d stand along side my father and listen to him engage with people. His example gave me the confidence to do that…to reach out, to be curious, to listen, to learn, to connect. And for that I am eternally grateful. ⠀⠀

We all have people who have been influential in our life. If we are lucky, we have the opportunity to recognize the gift and to say thanks.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀

Who are you thankful for? And how will you show your appreciation?