By Jackie White
Dear 2020, Scratch that…
2020, you have been the longest 5 years of my life! I am not happy with you, 2020! Let’s get right to it, I want to know what the hell happened with this year? Listen, I never wanted to live through “historic, unprecedented times” unless it was referring to the sky raining dollar bills or Barry Manilow living forever like Keith Richards. When I first heard of the Corona pandemic, I was really hoping it had something to do with a lime shortage for the beer, but nooooo, it couldn’t have been that easy. All I have to say is that I just want the good old days back when we thought the Tiger King was crazy.
2020, you have now earned the status of being the biggest crock of 2020 ever...if you know what I mean.
We were all happy little clams back in January and even February of 2020, but then you dropped the hammer in March putting us in lockdown. We had to wear masks, wash up like surgeons, use insane amounts of Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer, and by some weird alignment of the stars, we also had a toilet paper shortage! I mean come on, that was kind of a crappy deal, 2020!
2020 you flipped us upside down and our lives changed on a dime. We had to adjust in ways we never thought possible. 2020 you cramped our style! I have to get tough on you because, well, you have been likely the hardest year any of us have had to encounter.
It’s true we have learned to manage stress and become resilient. Some of us have learned to cook again and enjoy simple pleasures in life. Our priorities have become clear and that will have positive ripples throughout our lifetimes. So, begrudgingly, 2020, I have to acknowledge that maybe you aren’t all bad.
Truth be told, 2020 you might have brought a lot of suck, but you also have brought about creativity and innovation like nobody’s business. Things have been invented, rearranged, and reimagined because you forced us to do it. You held our feet to the fire and pushed us to be better. We have come together as communities. We have supported each other and cheered each other on. 2020, by gosh, I think you may have forced the world to have love and compassion for one another. Darn it 2020, I just wanted to be mad at you.
So, 2020, I have to say thank you for without you shaking up life, we might have never have realized what a wonderful world this can be. So with all the praise and recognition for all the good stuff, I must bid you adieu and don’t let the door hit you in the arse on the way out!
Shine On 2020, Shine On.
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Ahhh...the end of one year and the beginning of another. A fresh start, a new outlook, motivation to do All. The. Things. Make those resolutions, set those goals...Get It Done!!
I love the enthusiasm, really, I do. But…(you knew there was a but coming, right?) I’m not here to burst your bubble, but we like to keep it real here at SoulShine Life Connections. Fun, inspiring, but also real. So, I’d like to offer a little perspective, perhaps even a mindset shift, to take with you as you start preparing for your resolutions and goals for 2021 because, above all else, we want you to be successful in your journey to your very best life!
There’s a piece that is often missing in all this resolution setting and goal planning...and that’s to reflect BEFORE you reset. I get it...you might be like, girl, I already know I didn’t hit my health or financial or career goals. Why do I need to go there?!? Have you ever heard the phrase that “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over again but expecting the same results”? I’m at fault here, too, DreamChaser, thinking that I failed at something was because I didn’t try hard enough or stick with it long enough or have enough motivation when the real issue might be that the approach was wrong. That, my friends, is why you need to reflect first before you reset...so you LEARN from your missteps before you try again. By doing this, you will approach the situation differently, thereby getting a different result! EUREKA!
Excited?!? I thought so! Stay with me a minute longer; let’s go through a fun way to reflect. A way that might just lead to some interesting insights on where you need to focus your reset! Ready? Here we go….
Step 1: F-U-N with a Capital F!
Make a list (yes, literally write this down or use the memo function on your phone) of everything you do in your life that you think is fun or enjoyable. Anything that comes to mind...do not worry about what other people might think, you are the only person that will see this! Here are some things to spark your thinking:
The possibilities are only limited by your imagination...or maybe recollection...lol.
Step 2: Bring on the Inspiration!
One more brainstorm sesh...what inspires you? This goes a little bit deeper. We are all inspired by something or many things. Another word for inspiration could be motivation...that thing that sparks creativity or action or excitement to do something. What IS that? It could be many things, too! Try out these questions for inspiration sparking:
There are no right or wrong answers! Come back to both your fun and inspiration lists as more things come to you!
Step 3: Reality Check
You’ve made 2 awesome lists...one of all the things you find fun and one of your sources of inspiration. Now, let’s check in with real life. What do you do on the daily? How often do these things on your fun or inspiring list land in your everyday life?
Step 4: Reset Time
If the things that are on your fun and inspiring lists are not making it into your daily, it is time to reset and adjust accordingly! You are in control of how your day unfolds, whether you choose to spend it doing fun and inspiring things or not. Should every day be fun and inspiring? YES! Should mundane, boring, everyday things like laundry or dishes be fun? YES! Should your career be fun and inspiring? YES! I get it...not everything is fun and inspiring, unless you intentionally infuse it with fun and inspiration. That is 100% possible! I challenge you to find a way to bring the fun and inspiration list into your EVERYDAY life. This is an intentional action but guess what? It will put you smack dab on the path to living your best, fun, and most inspired life...and that’s what it’s all about, DreamChaser.
What does this have to do with goals and dreams and New Year’s resolutions? So glad you asked! Infusing your day with fun and inspiration led by intentional actions makes goal-getting and dreamchasing...drumroll...fun and inspiring! Which leads to more goal-getting and dreamchasing...what an AWESOME CYCLE!!!!! This simple and fun reflect and reset exercise can be, and should be, done frequently.
BONUS STEP 5:
Really want a leg up on 2021 AND living your very best life? Look at your fun and inspiration lists. Where do they overlap? For instance, I find helping people both fun and inspiring. Know what lies in the overlap of fun and inspiration? Your purpose. That wasn’t so hard to find afterall, was it, DreamChaser?
Why Doesn’t Costco Carry Green Peppers, Winter, and Other Things That Irritate Me. Learning Patience in a World of Irritations
By Jackie White
I think most people would tell you I have the patience of a saint. Not much really bothers me, unless you are talking about people that don’t think, ok then I am bothered. But, listen, I am a seasoned Scout leader. I have dealt with kids standing on the chairs, screaming about something ridiculous. It doesn’t generally doesn’t bother me. So in that respect, I would say I am chill. However, there are a few things that get under my skin that I have to just get off my chest.
The Top 5 Things That Bug The Crap Out of Me
I can’t help it. I do not like winter. First of all, it’s cold. I am always cold, so winter makes me feel like I am freezing my butt off 24 hours a day. It is messy and inconvenient. It requires me to shovel, scrape, and swear. It is devoid of color and smell. It’s just a whitish dirty gray landscape with monotone coldness. Why deprive our senses for several months of the year with this winter crap? I just want sunny days with 73 degrees, is that asking too much?
Hey get up, it’s morning! I am a certified early riser. I rise earlier than the earliest and after a cup of coffee, I am chipper as Susie Sunshine! I also get stuff done. I wager that before your feet hit the floor, I have accomplished more than you will in maybe your whole day. Irritating? I think not. For my friends who sleep in, I cannot understand why you waste perfectly beautiful sunshine and stay in bed. I mean, what are people waiting for? Get up and get going! The day is passing you by!
Use your blinker, damn it! I cannot understand why people do not use their blinker. Oh yes, I am the blinker police and I follow the blinker rules. I put a blinker on when I am turning into a parking stall or into my driveway which is on a dead end road and I drive a van with flowers all over it and my neighbors know my personalized license, so I am pretty sure everyone knows where I live and that I am turning into my driveway, but STILL, it’s the principle of the thing. Consider this a warning for you non-blinker people: If you want to find out what your bumper is for, then keep on not using your blinkers!
Ok, what is wrong with some people? Why do they insist on honing the skills needed to be a world-class jerk? Everyone knows one of these gems. It’s the neighbor who yells at you for stepping on their grass, the jerk who hates kids, the customer who crabs every time they patronize a business, yet they keep going back to that same business. (no shop owner needs that kind of business, for sure). To all those crab-asses out there, life is too short. Stop complaining and find something to be happy about. If that is not possible, just don’t come out of your house and ruin everyone else’s day. Simple as that.
A word to the store cashiers who are slower than molasses in January: Come on people, if you are a cashier, sloth-like scanning is not acceptable because, well. it is just not necessary. I know you know these cashiers, the ones that scan so slowly that you just want to grab the damn item from their hands and do it for them? Seriously, I could add up the total cost of my items by hand faster than some of these cashiers scanning my items. And no, I don’t do the self-checkout lane, that is an oxymoron with an emphasis on moron!
Costco, For God’s Sake, Start Carrying GREEN Peppers:
This is seriously a mystery of the world. Costco carries every dang thing possible on Earth except green peppers. I am wondering if they are trying to make the green pepper go extinct? I need green peppers and I also need Costco. I would think somewhere in my world the two could come together to enhance my shopping experience! Is this asking too much?
We all have stuff that bugs the crap out of us and that’s ok. What’s important though is having patience. We all want to tell that jerk off, blow the horn and complain about all of the crimes of stupidity committed in the world, but here’s the deal, if you do that then you become a pain in the butt. Instead, let’s learn a few ways to take it down a notch and live civilly amongst the living brain-dead.
Just kidding about number 4...well, not really, but if we are being responsible adults, I cannot advocate drinking your impatience away! I can, however, encourage you to practice the skill of patience (yes, it is a skill) and learn to not lose your shit when people are driving you crazy.
Finally, let’s all take some time to laugh at what drives us crazy. Find the humor, practice the patience, and most of all shine on!
Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Where are my “Christmas Vacation” lovers at? Seriously, friends, this is one of my FAVORITE holiday movies. I have watched this movie with my parents every year, probably before it was appropriate, and it never gets old. As I was snuggled in my jammies, glass of wine in hand (obvi) enjoying this tradition with my parents on the night of Thanksgiving after the toddler was asleep and the deer hunters were off, a funny thought washed over me…”Christmas Vacation” is not only a treasured holiday classic, in my humble opinion, but also an accurate depiction of 2020. Allow me to take you on a journey, “Christmas Vacation” GIF style!
So, so, so much excitement and hope! A new year, new decade. Dreams and goals...I’m coming for ya’!
Corona what? Not the beer? Hmmm...okay...whatever..
Spring break plans, school closure, stay-at-home orders, impending zombie apocalypse...wtf just happened?!?
The pep talk...over and over and over again. Still hopeful...the end is near...it can’t last THAT long…
May - June 2020
Pretty much speaks for itself...amirite?!?
Home improvement projects...I mean...what else are we gonna do? Looking for the upside of things. Again.
Is it safe to venture out?!? Maybe...maybe not!!!
Really?!? Really?!? You have to ask!
What? I’m just problem solving over here. I’m fine, we’re find, everything’s fine...
Pretty much sums it up...thanks, Cousin Eddy!
#nailedit...bha ha ha! Laugh or cry...I choose to laugh!
See what I mean, friends? This movie totally sums it up! All joking aside there is a bigger message than just these funny GIFs. The movie starts with Clark Griswold, Chevy Chase’s character, declaring his excitement for a “big old-fashioned family Christmas”, and his wife is worried that the reality won’t live up to his expectations. Guess what? There is one disaster after another, including the annoying and uninvited appearance of THAT relative, Cousin Eddy...a fitting character to play Covid in 2020, don’t you think?
Ever the optimist, Clark makes the best of every twist and turn that is thrown at him. Tree burns down? Chop down one from your yard. Random relative shows up? Invite him in (well, the kids in but let Eddy stay in the RV in the driveway). Irritating in-laws? Love on them anyway. He chooses to roll with the punches and make the best of the situation. His “old-fashioned family Christmas” did NOT unfold the way he thought but, guess what? It turned out pretty awesome in the end...well, definitely something I’m sure could be talked about for years. You know, if this was a real family in real life...lol. We can all agree 2020 was not what any of us expected but there were unexpected blessings and lessons, if you just take a look below the surface. Be like Clark Griswold and find the positive!
Here’s to putting 2020 behind us, taking the blessings and lessons with us, and ringing in 2021! Shine on!
P.S. Be prepared for a good old-fashioned awkward hug from me as soon as it is allowed. I’m a gonna be hugging everyone. You’ve been warned!
By Jackie White
I know this person, and she is the most awkward chick, and OMG, her butt is far too big! With a wide load like that, she ought to have that thing registered with the county. She probably beeps when she backs up, too. I don’t mean to be mean, I am just speaking the truth. While I am at it, let me tell you, she is seriously as dumb as a rock sometimes, and I am embarrassed for her. She needs to start acting and looking perfect so that people don’t notice how ridiculous she is.
Ouch! Who talks about someone like that? Probably you. Whoa, before you knock me into next week, let me add that it’s me too, and about 80% of us who talk negatively to ourselves. Oh, and by the way, this affects women far more than men.
That is truly a painful statistic. Why are we so hard on ourselves? Depending on who you talk to you might hear different reasons, but one of the most pervasive reasons is the world of social media. Social media provides a perfect place where all of us can meet and do one of two things; bring each other up or tear each other down. Unfortunately, the latter can take a serious toll on us and result in how we view our own world and selves. Besides that, much of the blather online is unhealthy for your well-being because much of it is negative. Unfortunately, bad news sells.
So, I am going to suggest something sort of rebellious. Rebellion is always fun, isn’t it? How about you put yourself first this season? Yes, I know it’s the season of giving, but you don’t need to exclude yourself from that list! I want you to give yourself some respite from all the negativity. Here’s the thing, when you break from a continual diet of negativity, you break the stress it causes and you clear your mind from that negative self-talk. Consider this a gift to yourself and all it will cost you is a little bit of forethought and willingness to change.
Your Gift of Kindness to Yourself
Limit Social Media Exposure
Make a plan to get off social media either at certain times of the day or limit the amount of time you are on it. Fill that time with other things you like to do such as reading, exercising, chatting with a friend or doing something creative.
Fill the Feed and Your Life with Positivity
Begin to eliminate the negative black holes in your feed and your life by replacing them with positive sites like FindYourSoulshine.com or @SoulShine LIfe Connections on Facebook or Instagram, duh! And in real life, spend time doing the things you love, enjoy the holiday season for once and make time to hang out with those who lift you up!
Train Yourself to Seek out Positivity
When things start going to hell, and they will, just rise up above whatever the chaos of the day is and look to find something positive. This will begin to train your mind to not go down a negative thought pattern.
Give Yourself Grace and Start Again
When you hear a critical voice in your head, otherwise known as the Itty Bitty Shitty Committee, then acknowledge it by telling it to move on and fill that void with something affirming about yourself. For example, if you hear “Girl you are a fool to speak up in front of all these people” Tell the IBSC (Itty Bitty Shitty Committee) to shut their face and replace the negative inner critique with something like “Girl, you got this! You know what you are talking about. Speak loud and proud!” Note that these positive affirmations will have the chance to take hold and become a habit when linked with the conscious removal of the negative banter.
Rebel this holiday season and create some kindness for yourself. Take the time to clear out the negativity and look for the joy this season can bring.
Happy Holidays and Shine On!
Wonder. Believe. Believe Anyway.Holiday Life Lessons from Children to Embrace the Whole Year Through
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
I wasn’t the first person in my circle to have a bonus baby. If you aren’t familiar with what I mean by bonus baby, this would be a kiddo born when many assumed you were done having kids. One of my old neighborhood friends was the first to have a bonus baby, a spicy little daughter 7 years younger than their son and 9 years younger than their daughter. After watching them take turns chasing her around at the school holiday program, I asked my friend how it was having one so much younger than the rest. Her response was, “it’s really wonderful...she brings the magic back to everything”.
Six years later, I would be the one chasing a toddler around at the holiday concert, you know, if we could do such things. You know what? Her words ring true. My bonus baby, Lucy, now 2, is brimming with the wonder that Christmas and the holidays bring, and her wonder is magical and contagious, in a good way...lol. This got me to thinking about all three of my kids and where they are in their Christmas spirit. I realized I have three kids in three very different stages. Not only are these fun to consider during the holidays but I also realized there were life lessons to embrace the whole year through to infuse my life with fun and inspiration.
This is the word that best describes a 2 year old at Christmas time. Lucy really has no idea what is going on but everything is AWESOME!! Here’s what I imagine the running dialogue in Lucy’s brain is saying: holy cow, there is a TREE in my house. And, it has LIGHTS and toys on it! I know they keep saying those red, sparkly things aren’t apples but I don’t know what else to call them. They are AMAZING. There are presents under the tree. I can’t open them but I can carry them around. There are lights on my HOUSE and my neighbors houses. This one person has this HUGE reindeer balloon. We made cookies and decorated them and got to EAT them. THIS IS AWESOME!!! What’s really cool is that everything in life is this exciting to Lucy; Christmas with all the lights and sparkles just really have her attention.
As adults, we have a tendency to overlook the joy and beauty that is around us every day. It is my wish for you to join me in reveling in the wonder of life around us, small and big, to bring the wonderment and joy of a 2 year old at Christmas to our everyday life.
My 9 year old, Liam, firmly believes in, ahem, that guy in the red suit who brings presents and, like Lucy, embraces all the wonder that Christmas offers...he is my present-wrapping helper, card stuffing assistant, cookie baking and decorating sous chef, and hall decking extraordinaire. Interesting, he has also been equally interested in discussing our faith, which is Christian based, and has taken an interest in discussing what other people believe...always thinking, that little fella. He doesn’t need to see the proof; he just believes.
Whoa, Liam, thanks for the important lesson. You know that phrase “seeing is believing”? Throw that out immediately! This seemingly innocuous phrase is crushing your dreams and goals! Here’s the thing, anything that you want, that you really, really, really from the bottom of your soul want, can’t be seen because you haven’t achieved it yet. Living by seeing is believing will stop you before you even start. Instead, believe it will happen. Liam firmly and unwaveringly believes Herbie the Elf will return to his spot in our decorated tree after Thanksgiving, that Santa will bring him his heart’s desire and that the Christmas story about a baby being born in a manger is true. He doesn’t need proof that any of these are real; he just believes. Be like Liam; believe in your heart’s desire, focus on them happening, and bring those dreams into reality.
Here’s the most important one. Ethan is 12. I assume he knows the elf doesn’t have magical powers and who is really behind the gifts that appear on Christmas Eve. Why do I say assume? Because he has never actually said he doesn’t believe. Why? I was the same way...believing is more fun. So, despite the doubt and evidence to the contrary, he chooses to believe anyway.
This is where I want to leave you, DreamChaser. Believe anyway. Believe even if the cards are stacked against you. Believe even if that goal, that dream, is too big, too far away. Believe you can. Your belief is the only thing that is stopping you from having EVERYTHING you want in life, instead of just thinking or dreaming about it. If you don’t believe, it is impossible to do. It’s that simple. So, be like Ethan, and believe anyway.
Wonder. Believe. Believe Anyway. Until next time...Shine On!
By Jackie White
This year for the holidays, many of us will be missing out on celebrating together as we have in year’s past. Holidays have always been the one excuse to bring together the family to visit. With busy lives, it can be difficult to get together, but holidays always seemed to be the opportunity to get caught up again. As of this writing, we are closing in on ¾ of a year where we have been separated from our families and friends, and for this year, holidays will not be the chance to see each other again.
This year more than ever, it is our presence that should be the present, but how do we do that when we literally cannot be together? How can we make this season bright with the restrictions we are facing? The answer is three-fold: First you must decide that this year you will enjoy the holidays. Having a positive mindset that says, come hell or highwater, you will have an enjoyable holiday is key. Here is how you make that happen:
Secondly, you have to get creative in how you will be doing that. Just because you can’t be together, there are other ways to connect and make your presence known. Here are several ideas to get you thinking out of the box.
Finally it will do your soul good to do something for someone else. Here are some ideas for you:
1. Provide a donation of a meal.
2. Sponsor a family in need.
3. Make cards for people in a nursing home or hospital.
4. Bake cookies for neighbors, police, fire or hospital workers.
5. Make homemade dog biscuits for your neighbor’s dogs.
As the old saying goes, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. You might have to squeeze the hell out of them this year, but you can do this! It’s all about getting creative and choosing to make this 2020 holiday season the most wonderful time of the year. Heck, Heaven knows, we can all use a little wonderful right about now!
Enjoy your holidays and Shine On!
By Erika Fehrenbach Prell
Who caught the reference to the legendary movie Dazed and Confused? This classic movie is a way many of us can feel as the holidays start to unfold. With all the things to do and plan for, it can feel like the holidays are happening to you rather than something you are participating in. And, what follows this feeling of outer chaos? Inner chaos better known as stress!
Anyone feel a little stressed this year? Talk about a 2020 thing to ask, right? To say we have all been experiencing more stress and other negative feelings is an understatement. We all know that the holidays are going to be different. Change in itself brings stress. Compound that to the stress of 2020 and holiday stress and you have a recipe for disaster.
Whether you feel a bit extra right now, or just the usual holiday stress creeping in, SoulShine wants to help you out of the holidaze, calm that chaos, and bring back the fun to your holidays with a few quick tips!
#1 - Feel the Feels
Sad? Mad? Frustrated? Secretly joyous but don’t want to let on? A roller coaster of all of these? The first step in pulling out of the holidaze is to feel the feels. Pushing them down or ignoring them just adds to the feelings of stress. However, whatever, you are feeling is justified and okay. Feel the feels so you can move on!
#2 - Reality Check
The holidays will look different this year. But, that doesn’t mean it can’t be awesome and special. Get creative on how to celebrate with family and friends through Zoom or other online meetings (I have already seen people doing baking together this way). Just because you aren’t physically together, doesn’t mean it can’t be special or fun...and, one benefit to online meetings is no drive time, which means more time to be together!
#3 - Quit the “What’s Next” Thinking
This simply means be present. Stop worrying about the next thing on your list and enjoy the beautiful moments unfolding right in front of you! Spoiler...this pertains to all moments in life, not just holidays...you’re welcome!
#4 - Keep It Healthy
Gulp. There’s a reason the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around some version of getting healthy. It is so easy to get off track with healthy decisions over the holiday! Guess what? Making effort to keep it healthy with what you are eating and drinking as well as keep moving helps your energy and reduces stress. Even small efforts in this department will pay off in spades!
#5 - Make a Budget...and Stick to It!
Everything about the holidays is designed to entice you to spend, spend, spend. That’s all fun and games until the credit card bills roll in. Do yourself a favor. Make a list of everyone you want to buy something for, decide how much you can spend without adding financial stress to the pot, then commit to sticking to this! The flash of joy in the moment of purchasing pales in comparison to the stress of overspending. I know, this isn’t sexy or fun but it will serve you well.
#6 - Take Time for Yourself
Self-care isn’t selfish and should be part of your every day routine, not once in a while. When entering periods of increased stress, you need to up the self-care accordingly. This will help balance it out.
#7 - Recognize the Unexpected Gift from 2020
Huh? A gift from 2020? Yes! I am willing to bet that you have wished for time to slow down, for commitments to disappear, to perhaps NOT have to do (fill in the blank). 2020 answered you (be careful what you wish for, in case you ever find that mystical genie in a lamp, just saying). Seriously, 2020 has given all of us a reset and reprieve from a packed, overcommitted schedule. This includes the holidays! You can now redesign your holiday as well as your day-to-day schedule to align with your priorities and values. Time is our most precious commodity and now you can take it back and dish it out the way you want it. Don’t waste this gift!
DreamChaser, take a moment and pull yourself out of the holidaze, calm that chaos, and bring joy back to your life and this season. Shine on!
P.S. Did we miss any tips that you would like to add to calm the chaos of the season?
Jackie White has been writing about life and its ups and downs for many years. With a degree in Industrial Psychology and a life-long student of personal development she is intrigued by how each individual chooses to live their life. Jackie feels strongly that truly living your best life is imperative to attaining peace and fulfillment. SoulShine was borne of her desire to inspire and teach others to live their best life. This is her mission and her dream.