It’s Not Too Late: 3 Ways to Start the New Year Right

It’s Not Too Late: 3 Ways to Start the New Year Right

By Tina of Truly Rich and Blessed

January is almost over, and most of us have probably already settled into some sort of “routine” for the new year. For some of us, this might be a good thing— but for others, the “routine” might mean falling into the same old habits we had last year.

Indeed, many of us probably started the year with lofty resolutions, goals and dreams — only to find that we have already “failed” and broken too many of our New Year promises… just a month into the year! So, we feel guilty… sad… and downright frustrated, and think, “What’s the point of trying to keep my other resolutions, chasing my other dreams, pursuing my own goals?”

Well, my answer to questions like that?

It’s not too late. It’s never too late to begin again. (And again, and again, and again.)

Just like Martine said in one of her posts earlier this month, sometimes losses “are really new beginnings.” Similarly, sometimes broken resolutions, unfulfilled goals, shattered dreams are opportunities to start something new and different.

And so, dear friends, allow me to encourage you (and myself too, ha, ha!):

Let’s start the New Year right. (For the first, second, third, fourth, nth time, whichever applies to you.)

Here are three ways we can do so:

1. Have an intention for the year.

Some people may find having a list of resolutions to keep quite overwhelming, and might want to consider just having one main intention to live by for the year. For example, “Grow in faith,” or “Learn something new,” or maybe even just “Quit one bad habit” (like being too attached to gadgets, maybe?).

Whatever that one intention is, do your best to live by it. Live intentionally.

2. Choose to cherish the present moment.

We often find ourselves so overwhelmed by all the things we need to do on a daily basis that we forget to just.be. This can result in feelings of frustration and exhaustion, and forgetting that the present — the here and now — is often what matters most.

So let’s include “stopping to smell the roses” as a way of starting this year right — pausing to appreciate what we have, what’s right in front of us… choosing to “make it blissful,” as we like to say over here. (Actually, we can do so any time of the year — sort of like a “reset” or “reboot” for us. Don’t you think so?)

3. Embrace your fears.

Many of us probably face different fears on a daily basis. Fear of heights, fear of failure, fear of cockroaches, fear of getting hurt — the list can go on and on.

I challenge you this year, though, to embrace those fears. (Or at least one or two of them.)

Let go of what is keeping you back from living your best life.

And if you’re a faith-minded person like me, surrender your fears to the One who is ultimately in control of everything.

I know there are more than three things we can do to start (or restart) this year right — you could say the aforementioned ways are just “the tip of the iceberg.” Whether you do just these three things or choose to add to the list, remember, every day is a chance to begin again.

You don’t have to wait for the next year to roll around before making positive changes in your life. Take those steps to finding your bliss now. Discover how “truly rich and blessed” you are, as I like to say on my own little space on the Web. Once you do, I know you’ll be all the better for it!

What are you/have you been doing to “start the year right,” as they say? Let’s chat in the comments!

The Power of a Praying Mom

The Power of a Praying Mom

The Power of A Praying Mom

By Tina Rodriguez of Truly Rich Mom

If you’ve been part of the Make It Blissful online community from the very beginning, you’ll know that I’m all for including prayer in our daily routines. As I wrote in my very first post here:

There is power in prayer — I totally believe this.

I also believe that prayer is especially powerful when you are praying for someone you love.

Now, while that post was written from my perspective as a married woman, allow me to share something with you: I actually started experiencing the power of prayer when I was around 12 years old.

I still recall that time with great fondness — it was my first time to attend a youth seminar at our parish in Brunei (yup, I grew up abroad like Martine!), organized by a mission team from Christ’s Youth in Action. It was there that I was introduced to the concept of having a personal relationship with Jesus, and taught to pray to Him as if I was just speaking to a dear friend.

I attended (and served at) many prayer meetings, seminars, youth camps, conferences, and other faith-focused activities after that camp, and while I cannot say that I was 100% faithful to God all those years (yup! I had my “dark moments” and still have them up to now), I can say this: prayers always helped me get back on track.

Of course, I know it was not just my prayers that led me back to the “right” path — in fact, the prayers of those around me helped a lot too.

I believe, though, that the prayers of one very special person in my life made a huge difference — those of my mother. 

Yes. a mother’s prayers are truly unique and powerful.

the power of a praying mom

Photo by Love Ocampo

Whenever I or one of my siblings experience trials or sufferings (even now that we are all grown up and living our own lives), my mom prays for us, and comforts us with her presence (even if, at times, her “presence” is merely “in spirit”).

Whenever we have breakthroughs and blessings in our lives, she prays for us, rejoices with us, and celebrates with us.

Whenever we face decisions or wrestle with doubts, she prays for us, and shares her wisdom if needed.

Yes, my mother’s prayers… our mother’s prayers are special and life-changing indeed!

And if you’re a mom reading this (well, hello there!), believe me when I say: YOUR prayers, as a mom, are powerful, too!

The power of a praying mom:

Her prayers can help move mountains.

The Power of A Praying Mom

Her prayers can become a “guide” — a “map” of sorts — one that can lead her children and others to the correct path.

The Power of A Praying Mom

Her prayers (and presence!) can help turn a gloomy day around.

The Power of A Praying Mom

Her prayers leave a mark — not only in the lives of her children, but also in the lives of her grandchildren, and other family members.

 The Power of A Praying Mom

So, our challenge then, dear moms (and moms-to-be maybe? 😉 ), is this:

To do less and pause more, so that we can remember the main reason behind our being moms. 

To allow ourselves to be pursued by Love, so that we, in turn, can share that love with others, especially with our children.

To pray more, and allow others to pray for us, too, so that we can truly experience God’s power, healing, and miracles in our lives, and in the lives of those we love.

It may be difficult to do all of these things, but please know that it will definitely be worth it — because a mom’s prayer can change her child’s future.

Don’t give up. Don’t surrender.

If ever you do feel like doing so though, please remember: you are not alone.

The other blissmakers and I are here for you, cheering you on. We’re in this together.

“…I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” — Matthew 18:19-20

Have you ever experienced the power of a praying mom in your own life? (The mom could be your mom, or yourself, or maybe even a friend who’s a mom!) Share what happened in the comments!

Why Family Dinnertime Is All the More Important

Why Family Dinnertime Is All the More Important

By Tina Rodriguez of Truly Rich Mom

“Mama, I like this — eating together with the T.V. off!” one of my children happily said during one evening. “Yeah, me, too, Ma!” another child chimed in. “This is fun!”

We were all seated together at our tiny dining table, which was given to us—”pre-loved”—by a generous tito and friend from the Catholic community for which we had worked fulltime. I remember we didn’t have anything fancy on the menu for that night (I think we were even having leftovers!) but just the fact that we were all together—eating and chatting about our day, with no distractions—definitely made a difference.

You see, prior to that fateful night, my husband (whom I love dearly and pray for every single day, thank you very much! 🙂 ) and I had fallen into the habit of watching the evening news on T.V. — which usually coincided with dinnertime with the kids. (Yes, even if we knew that it wasn’t the best thing to do.)

We didn’t think that it was such a big deal, though, since we rarely watched T.V. during the day anyway. However, the impact it had on our kids made us rethink our nightly news-watching habit, and I’m proud to say that we’ve stuck to our “no screen time, no gadgets” rule during mealtimes as much as possible since then. (With the occasional “lapses” — during which our kids remind us of the rules! Ha, ha!)

Why is family dinnertime so important anyway? Is it really that much of a big deal, so much that we need to be intentional about it?

Research shows that the answer to the latter question is a resounding YES.

To quote Anne Fishel, an associate clinical professor of Psychology at Harvard Medical School:

“For starters, researchers found that for young children, dinnertime conversation boosts vocabulary even more than being read aloud to.

For school-age youngsters, regular mealtime is an even more powerful predictor of high achievement scores than time spent in school, doing homework, playing sports or doing art.

Children who eat regular family dinners also consume more fruits, vegetables, vitamins and micronutrients, as well as fewer fried foods and soft drinks.

In addition, a stack of studies link regular family dinners with lowering a host of high risk teenage behaviors parents fear: smoking, binge drinking, marijuana use, violence, school problems, eating disorders and sexual activity.”

— Source.

The list of benefits of having distraction-free family meals goes on, and you can read about them here, here and here, for starters.

I remember a post I wrote for Philstar.com, around four years ago. It was about the importance of family mealtimes, inspired by a campaign for National FaMEALy Day. Although it was connected to a brand that our family no longer uses, it still speaks of great reasons for eating together as a family. You can see some of those reasons in this video.

Of course, the key to a fruitful family dinnertime is being 100% present. Which means no gadgets, screens, and other distractions. (Challenging, I know, but we can do this!)

It’s also important that we engage with our kids and maintain the dining table as a “conflict-free” zone. Let’s try to reserve our parental criticisms corrections for another time and place (to be done in a gentle, loving manner, of course! I know, easier said than done, right?! Again, we can do this!)

I must confess that even if I work at home, and homeschool our children, I am not as intentional about being “all there” for them as I should be. I can be distracted during mealtimes (or any other time, for that matter) or, worse, downright grouchy, wishing that everyone would just be done eating so I can clear the table and wash the dishes, plus do whatever else needs to be done before calling it in for the day! (Unless my husband gets to the dishes first, which he usually tries to do, bless him! 😉 )

So I know… I know how tough it can be — especially if you don’t work at home, and don’t homeschool, and your family’s routine is so much more complicated than ours is! Still, having regular, meaningful interactions with each family member should be something we all strive for, yes?

In today’s fast-paced world, where, ironically, social media can make us more anti-social, let’s try to give our families the gift of time, and take a break from our gadgets and other distractions. Let us heed the words of Pope Francis:

“…we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets… we turn in on ourselves. We forget to remain focused on the things that really matter.”

Family dinnertime, family game nights, family “field trips,” family read-aloud time… however we go about it, let’s do this for our families. After all, the people in our family are—and should be—the most important people in our lives. Let us focus on them, on “the things that really matter.”

Is family dinnertime a “sacred” thing in your home? How do you spend meaningful time together as a family? Let’s share with one another in the comments!

3 Ways Positive Thinking Can Help You Find Your Bliss

3 Ways Positive Thinking Can Help You Find Your Bliss

positive thinking

By Tina Santiago Rodriguez of Truly Rich Mom

Have you ever heard of the phrase “Your thoughts can become things”?

I first encountered it when I was still working fulltime for a local publishing company. I had to proofread a book by bestselling author Bo Sanchez, titled How to Turn Your Thoughts into Things, and I ended up learning so much about the power of positive, intentional thinking! (Yup, one of the perks of my job then!)

The book was a truly inspiring read, and it made me realize that positive thinking can really make a difference in one’s life — and even in the lives of others.

On a personal note, I’d like to believe that it’s positive thinking that has helped me on the journey to finding my “bliss.” While I have to admit that I’m not 100% there yet, I know that—by God’s grace—I’ve come a long way from where I used to be.

It’s only been a few years since I’ve started being more intentional in what I think, say and do, and where I am now—making a living while making a home, and striving to live meaningfully no matter what—is definitely a “blissful” place. 🙂 (Though there’s always room for more bliss, of course!)

So how did I get here? And, more importantly, how can positive thinking actually help you find your bliss? Here are three ways:

1. It activates the law of attraction.

What is “the law of attraction,” you may ask? I’m not going to expound on it in detail here, because there are other sites that you can visit for more information, like this one and this one, but basically, the “law” states this:

“We attract whatever we think about, good or bad.” — Source. (This is a good read, too, by the way.)

So, if you think only positive thoughts, more likely than not, you’ll be surrounded by all that is positive and good. You’ll be able to “make it blissful,” as we like to say over here, and get closer to everything that can become part of your bliss.

Of course, as a Catholic Christian, I also believe that God sometimes allows us to experience trials and hardships—like my family and I did in 2013—for reasons only He knows, but that’s for another post altogether! 😉 What I can say for sure, though, is that thinking positively (plus lots of prayer!) definitely helped me through those tough times.

2. It helps you focus on your blessings, not your burdens.

positive thinking

Thinking positively can help you see the good things in your life with more clarity. Positive thoughts usually translate to positive actions and words, and help you see the blessings that you already have, plus anticipate the blessings that are coming your way.

Focusing on your blessings helps you find the “bliss” in everyday living, which can be quite mundane sometimes. Thus, positive thinking helps make life more blissful.

3. It helps you see the opportunities that every day brings. 

Part of finding our bliss is being able to see—and seize—the opportunities that come our way. This is what I have been trying to do for quite some time now, especially after I resigned from my fulltime job in 2013. I was unsure of the future then; although I was blessed to still have part-time editing jobs, the income I got from them weren’t enough for our family’s needs.

Still, I claimed God’s blessings after my official resignation, and thinking positively really helped me to see the many job opportunities that came my way. (Of course, there were times when I would be full of doubt and fear—keeping it real here—but I’d try to shake off those feelings with positive thoughts!)

positive thinking

Just a few months (three, to be exact) after resigning, I was hired for a fulltime home-based job, in charge of PR & Special Projects for a company that aims to help parents—especially mothers—be more intentional in their parenting journey. I also got an additional editing job for an international-based parenting publication (which I have recently given up, as part of my intentions for this year).

Did positive thinking alone help me land those jobs? Of course not. But I do believe that it helped me position myself strategically, such that it was easier for me to get hired. It can do the same for you, too. I know it.

If what I’ve written about here is kind of hard for you to swallow, try reading about scientific evidence that shows the power of positive thinking: You can start here, here and here. (You’re welcome. 😉 )

So if you’re in a rut now, or having difficulty seeing the goodness that you already have in your life, believe that things can change for the better. Take the first step to making it so—by choosing positive thoughts now.

What are your thoughts on positive thinking? Let’s get a discussion going in the comments!  

5 Blissful Holiday Traditions that Will Bless You and Your Family

5 Blissful Holiday Traditions that Will Bless You and Your Family

Christmas is just around the corner, and many of us may already be feeling the holiday rush — and may even be ranting about it on Facebook. (Don’t worry — I’m not judging you! 😛 )

Now, I know Christmas is usually known to be the season of parties, reunions, gift-giving (and receiving!), and general merry-making, but let us not forget the true spirit behind it — which is manifested in love, selflessness, kindness and generosity, among other things.

Let us also remember — and do what we can — to make this season more meaningful, so that we and our loved ones will come out of it more blessed, rather than more stressed.

One way to do this is to create (or continue) holiday traditions that will help us focus on the real reason for Christmas, i.e. to celebrate the birth of Christ, of course, whom we honor throughout the season.

Here are five examples of such traditions:

1. Give meaningful gifts, especially gifts that “give back.”

Although it may be a lot easier — and cheaper — to just give ‘generic’ gifts from Divisoria or other favorite shopping destinations (and we’re definitely not holding it against you if you do so),  you might want to consider giving more meaningful gifts to your family and friends this year.

Examples of these are:

– Handmade gifts that you can make with your kids

Fellow blissmaker Mariel wrote an article about this recently, which you might want to read.

– Homemade goodies (that, again, you can make with your kids)

For starters, you can try using Martine’s recipes for double-chocolate cookies with white choco-mint drizzle and choco-oat and banana muffin puds.

cookies pre-baked

 

Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, go for Mia’s perfectly imperfect pandesal.

Just pop your baked goodies into a box, bag or jar, add some Christmas ribbon and a tag and — voila! — you’ve got a great and yummy gift!

– Gifts that “give back” i.e. help others, too

For example, sending Christmas eCards from Negrense Volunteers for Change Foundation (NVC) to your family members and friends will provide Mingo Meals to undernourished children under NVC’s Start Right, Live Bright Program, whose beneficiaries include victims of Typhoon Yolanda and Typhoon Ruby.

Other examples of gifts that “give back”: Sharing social enterprise gifts from Human Nature will help support people in different Gawad Kalinga areas, while gifting others with Happy Jars from Joseph Feeding will help provide hot meals for streetkids.

gifts

A Happy Jar from JosephFeeding.org – Full of yummy bliss!

There are actually so many ways to give back to others through our Christmas gifts — all you need to do is to search for them. (Or maybe I should come up with a separate blog post for that, yeah? 😉 )

2. Read books that tell the Christmas story to and/or with the children in your life.

One of our family’s favorite Advent/Christmas traditions is reading one Advent/Christmas/Faith-themed book a day, starting December 1 all the way to the Feast of the Epiphany or Three Kings, which is when Christmas officially ends for us Catholic-Christians. (Yes, there are really 12 Days of Christmas!)

Reading aloud to your kids has many benefits, and author Jim Trelease explains why we should read to our kids very eloquently here. And if you’re thinking that this applies only to parents with young kids, well, think again. Reading aloud to older children is valuable, too.

The holidays and vacation leaves we’ll be having this Christmas season should give us plenty of time to read to and/or with the kids in our lives. If you find that this isn’t true though, the next tip is perfect for you.

3. Slow down instead of speed up.

The Christmas “rush” — shopping for gifts, attending Christmas programs and parties, going to reunions, slipping away for a staycation — all of this can make us “speed up” too much, when we should be trying to slow down instead.

No matter how busy the Christmas season may be, do your best to stop and “smell the roses,” as they say. You can also try doing the following, if you want:

  • Say ‘no’ to unnecessary appointments and engagements.
  • If you’re still not done with Christmas gift shopping, avoid the crazy traffic and overcrowded malls by shopping online (Remember tip no. 1 on this list earlier, as you do so!).
  • Check off what you can from your Christmas to-do list every day, and relish your little “victories.”
  • Pause, take a deep breath, and remember the true Reason for the season… which brings me to my next point.

4. Choose your “Christ”-mas gift — a gift for Christ — and encourage others to do the same.

The true Reason for the season is Christ, and as we prepare to celebrate His birthday, let’s not forget our gifts for Him. Here are suggestions for what you can give Him:

  • Attend Christmas Mass or Service with your loved ones
  • Forgive those who have hurt you and seek forgiveness from those whom you have hurt
  • Commit to loving yourself and others more
  • Choose to be “blissful” no matter what trials you may face — and lift others up in the process
  • Throw a birthday bash especially for Baby Jesus, complete with a birthday cake!

5. Savor the Christmas spirit… beyond December 25.

Christmas doesn’t have to end on December 25, nor on Epiphany Sunday. As Jose Mari Chan sings in one of the more well-known local Christmas songs:

Let’s sing Merry Christmas and a happy holiday
This season may we never forget the love we have for Jesus
Let Him be the one to guide us as another new year starts
And may the spirit of Christmas be always in our hearts 

Savor the Christmas spirit by creating meaningful and blissful memories with those you love. Capture those memories on camera or on paper (or on a blog!).

You might also want to create a vision board for yourself, or for your entire family, as a way to jumpstart your dreams for 2015. The possibilities are endless!

Even if you don’t consider yourself the “religious” or “spiritual” type, you can still live the spirit of Christmas on December 25 and beyond — by being more caring, kind and generous. The world is in dire need of people who are like that.

This is one of the reasons why the Make It Blissful community was born actually — to inspire goodness and bliss in our everyday lives.

Do you have your own holiday traditions? Share them with us in the comments! Here’s to a blissful and blessed Christmas for all of us!