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Memorial Day Remembrance

Memorial Day marks the beginning of the summer season (even though Summer doesn’t really start until late June). It’s a national holiday. Banks and schools are closed and there’s no mail delivery.

In the old days, school was out by Memorial Day and didn’t start again until after Labor day.

Photo courtesy of USAF published on rubymontalvo.com
(U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Joseph McKee)

As a kid, that’s all Memorial Day was about for me—the beginning of summer and picnics and no school.

And, yes, it’s all that, but it’s so much more.

Memorial Day is a day for solemn remembrance, a day dedicated to American service men and women who died while serving in the U.S. Military. It’s a reminder that “troops” are people and “casualties” are sons and daughters who’ll never come home.

History

According to US Memorial Day website, the day of remembrance started as Decoration Day in 1868, after the end of the Civil War. “On the first Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, and 5,000 participants decorated the graves of the 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried there.”

It became an official national holiday in 1971.

Now, on Memorial Day, the last Monday in May, Americans are encouraged to observe a moment of silence at 3pm wherever they are to honor those who died while in service to our nation.Photo courtesy of flickr commons published on strong-woman.com

Let’s enjoy the holiday. Have a picnic. Take advantage of a sale or two. And remember those servicemen and women who never came home.

Strive for progress, not perfection

journal posted on strong-woman.comIs it really okay to be less than perfect when you’re working toward a goal? Like when you’re ready to take better care of yourself and improve your confidence and overall happiness. You may commit to eating more nutritious food, exercising more consistently, practicing daily gratitude, journaling, or any number of other healthy activities.

They’re simple, but not easy.

So many distractions, it’s hard to stay committed. Why bother trying?

This is when it’s most important to strive for progress, not perfection. When you feel like giving up, remind yourself that:

You must act. You can’t make progress without taking action. Even if you’re not sure you can reach your goal, do what you can and start small if you have to.  It’s harder to get started when you expect yourself to be perfect.

No one’s perfect. What you don’t want to do is say, “Well, I already blew it today because I was ‘bad’ this morning, so what the heck? I might as well eat this pint of ice cream.” Moderation is the key. Every moment’s a chance to re-commit to make healthy choices. 

Take care of yourself posted on strong-woman.com

Keep moving forward. No one’s perfect. Small changes made consistently add up to results. Even the most disciplined people skip a workout sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Get back on track and keep at it.

Be okay with good enough. Aspiring for perfection has a way of keeping us from taking action, of getting started. If your goal is to work out 4 times this week and you only get in 2 workouts because “life got in the way”, it’s okay. 2 workouts is better than 0 workouts. Tomorrow’s another day to get back at it!

Be patient. Progress will come as long as you’re taking steps in the direction of what you desire. Focus on progress and it’ll be easier to keep moving forward.

Laughing baby.

Remember why you started. When you’re striving for progress, the end goal can get buried under disappointing setbacks. Keep your goal in mind and do it for yourself and your own health and happiness. Re-commit and repeat as needed.

Lighten up. Have fun along the way. Don’t be so serious. (Ahem.) When nothing short of perfection is acceptable, it’s hard to have fun.

Whatever you do, don’t give up. Do what you can every day, even if it’s something very small, to improve your health and happiness.

Photo credit Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com

5 Ways to Get Past Regret

What would you do differently if you had a do-over?

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.comSomething you said, something you did?

Everyone messes up sometimes. It’s normal to look back with regret.

And that awful, terrible feeling of regret can stick around for a while.

But regret keeps you in the past and youPhoto courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com:

wish you’d have done/said/acted differently.

think/talk about it.

keep thinking/talking about it.

feel remorseful/sad/angry about it.

know you can’t change it, but you can’t get it out of your head, even though you know what’s done is done.

How can you get past it?

Try these 5 tips to get past regret:

1. Remember, you can’t change the past.

It would be great to be like Superman and be able to turn back time. But our reality is that what’s done can’t be un-photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.comdone.

Wishing it were different is a waste of time and energy. Even so, we have to do it sometimes. There’s an old saying, “Don’t cry over spilled milk.” It’s okay to cry a little. It might help you feel a little better about the situation. But crying won’t clean it up. So cry a little if you want, but then decide your next course of action, and move on.

2. Be accountable for your actions.

Whether you ask others for forgiveness, offer restitution, or whatever you decide to do to try to right a wrong, accept responsibility for your actions. It may turn out that it’s not as big an issue as you made it out to be and you worried and feared the worst unnecessarily.

3. Forgive yourself and others.

Forgiveness is liberating. It acknowledges imperfection and helps give us the ability to move on. Ask some one you’ve hurt for forgiveness, without expectation. Forgive yourself and others.

Photo by Ruby Montalvo published on strong-woman.com4. Learn from past mistakes.

Ask yourself: What would you do differently and how would that make it better or worse? You may discover that you made the best choice with the information available at the time. And everyone makes mistakes. Use them as a learning experience so you don’t keep repeating the same mistakes over and over.

5. Live in the present.

When you dwell on the past, it’s impossible to live fully in the present. You can’t trip over what’s behind you. Remember, no do-overs.

We can’t change our past but we can change our future.

Regret keeps us stuck in the past. It pulls us back and keeps us there.

Every minute of every day is an opportunity to be better. If you’re stuck regretting the past, you won’t be ready for the opportunities that lie ahead. Instead, be ready by getting past regret.

Note: Sometimes, regret can be the source of deep and long-lasting pain, such as forgiving an assailant who harmed you or a loved one, or forgiving yourself for unknowingly harming some one, such as in an accident. Seek professional help if you find yourself unable to get past the feeling of regret.

photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Give and receive the gift of encouragement

While out shopping the other day, a woman approached me and said, “I love your hair. It’s so natural.” (referring to my gray hair)

She said, “I wish I had the courage to do that.”photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Her words stayed with me. She said she didn’t have the courage to do it.

But how does a person gain courage? How can we be encouraged to take action when we’re afraid?

Encourage. To fill with courage or strength of purpose. (Marriam-webster.com)

Be encouraged. It sounds so simple, but how can you get over the hump of being afraid?

Surround yourself with encouraging peoplePhoto courtesy of Pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

When we encourage each other, we help each other get past fear. We can fill ourselves and others with “strength of purpose”.

What a beautiful thing!

You may say, “They’re just words.” That’s true.

But they’re words meant to give you a boost so you can go do whatever it is you lack the courage to do.

Why do we take them for granted?

Sometimes people will explain why you should be afraid. They may truly want to protect you and be afraid for you.

Fear is a powerful force. The bigger the fear, the more encouragement you’ll need.

Will you suffer setbacks? Probably. Will you feel discouraged and want to quit? Maybe.

When you feel down and discouraged, your strength of purpose can pull you up.

Encouragement is a gift to be given and received

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Be open to receive encouragement. It takes an open heart to receive this gift, to be empowered to believe in yourself. 

Seek out encouragement from others. Maybe people who have been through what you’re going through. Or maybe people who love you, believe in you, and want to see you happy.

Pray for courage. I’ve felt God’s love and encouragement so often through prayer. When you get to the heart of courage, it feels like a spiritual force. I say The Serenity Prayer often, asking God for “the courage to change the things I can.”

Encourage others. You don’t know how your words and gestures of encouragement might make a difference to them, how your words may be just what they need to get past whatever’s holding them up. I encouraged the woman who said she didn’t have the courage to go gray by telling her, “You can do it!” Will she do it? She may need lots more encouragement before she acts. I’ll probably never know. 

Encouragement is a gift to be given and received. Give generously and receive graciously.

If you missed the Joan of Arc story and her amazing story of courage in a previous Mindset Monday, you can check it out here.