I have been blessed to be able to travel over the past few weeks, enjoying the beautiful weather in Miami, and the comfort of the wonderful spa hotel there calledThe Standard. This past week I have been at The Standard in New York City, and once again, completely impressed and wanted to share with you. This ultra-hip boutique hotel is smack-dab in the middle of the Meatpacking District of Manhattan just north of The West Village, and is within walking distance of many galleries, restaurants, and one-of-a-kind boutique shops. It has several swanky bars, its own beirgarten, the infamous Boom Boom Room, and a penthouse nightclub called Le Bain where celebrities are regulars, and my son is a bartender. . . . (he is quite possibly the only way I got through the tight door policy the last few nights, although you should definitely give it a shot.) This place is the epitome of a New York night club complete with a huge mirror ball, a fog machine, and a beat that makes it hard to stand still. It is a 2-story club on both the 18th floor, and the rooftop and has million dollar views of Midtown and Lower Manhattan.
The Standard New York features floor-to-ceiling glass windows, and every room has views of the Hudson River and either Midtown or Lower Manhattan. The rooms are small, no surprise...this is New York after all, but the space manages to hold an extremely comfortable queen bed, and killer bed linens.
This hotel is very hip, and can become quite lively, especially at night as the lobby lights are turned down, and the music is turned up. It is definitely geared toward the young, fashionable, exclusive in-crowd, so it was definitely high-spirited and was a fantastic spot to people watch.
Room with a view
One of the larger rooms with amazing bathrooms
The Standard Grill - bar/cafe'
The Standard Grill - restaurant
Copper penny floor in The Standard Grill restaurant
Yesterday I attended the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade along with thousands of other spectators who lined up along the streets of New York City. It has always been my own tradition to watch it on TV from the comfort of my own home while I prepare our big Thanksgiving meal, but this year we decided to experience it ourselves. What a festive time! Kanye West and Gladys Knight performed along with many others, while Spiderman, Buzz Lightyear, and The Pillsbury Dough Boy floated along overhead. The parade always ends with Santa Claus waving from his sleigh as if it gives us the official o.k. to begin our shopping, put up decorations, and dive in to the Christmas holiday.
So today is known as Black Friday here in the U.S., which is traditionally the kick-off of the Christmas shopping season. It is a favorite time of year for some, and the most stressful for others. So for those of you who find yourself stressed at this time of year, let me share a few quotes with you that may help you deal with all of the anxiety that comes with having to face the huge crowds while shopping, or that pressing feeling of having to find the perfect gift.
This one from Donald Westlake says, "As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December's bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same."
Here is one by Harlan Miller that states, "Probably the reason we all go so haywire at Christmastime with the endless unrestrained and often silly buying of gifts is that we don't quite know how to put our love into words."
Bobby, a 7 year-old boy says...."Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen."
There is a saying, "Silent gratitude isn't much use to anyone." I truly believe that. Gratitude should be expressed! When you feel gratitude and don't express it, it is like wrapping a gift and not giving it. So today, my gift is wrapped and I want to give it to you. I am so grateful for those of you who visit me here at this little blog of mine. I'm grateful for the emails that I receive from those of you who want to tell me that I've made a difference in your day by giving you a drop of encouragement, an ounce of hope, or have perhaps reminded you of some small thing that has set the tone in how you go about your day. I am completely grateful for that, and it truly is the reason why I post on this site. Nothing makes me happier. I have been rewarded in more ways than I could have ever imagined, and it has been proven to me that you truly do get what you give.
Just over a year ago, I wrote a post entitled"Who inspires you?", and today I just wanted to reiterate how grateful I am for all the people in my life, but would like to add all of you to that list. So to those of you who visit me here.....you are the reason I post on this site! It is you who inspires me! Thank you from the bottom of my heart! xo, Connie
Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. -Melody Beattie
Your life is the consequence of your decisions. Regardless of your life situation, you have to see that your decisions matter. It doesn't matter what context we're talking about - it's your decisions that matter. You hit the snooze button one too many times and now you're late for work - that decision matters. You spoke too soon and said something you regret - that decision matters. You let fear hold you back, and now you've missed another great opportunity - that decision matters.And what about doing nothing when you should have done something?William James once said, "When you have to make a choice and don't make it, that is in itself a choice." We all make bad decisions from time to time. But the experience that we learn from making poor decisions is what shapes us; it's what allows us to grow. I've said this before.........if you realize that you made a wrong decision, immediately begin working toward making it work to your advantage, or begin to change it. The best part about tomorrow is that it presents you with a clean slate, and an opportunity to begin again.
You've got a lot of choices. If getting out of bed in the morning is a chore and you're not smiling on a regular basis, try another choice.
An elderly man, in the final days of his life, is laying in bed alone. He awakens to see a large group of people clustered around his bed. Their faces are loving, but sad. Confused, the old man smiles weakly and whispers, "You must be my childhood friends, come to say good-bye. I am so grateful." Moving closer, the tallest figure gently grasps the old man's hand and replies, "Yes, we are your best and oldest friends, but long ago you abandoned us. For we are the unfulfilled promises of your youth. We are the unrealized hopes, dreams and plans that you once felt deeply in your heart, but never pursued. We are the unique talents that you never refined, the special gifts you never discovered. Old friend, we have not come to comfort you, but to die with you."
The reason most people never reach their goals is that they don't define them, learn about them, or even seriously consider them as believable or achievable.
Believe in yourself and your dreams WILL come true. I believe in you.
One small, thoughtful gesture can make someone else's day. Learning that each of us can make a difference by doing one kind act at a time is a great lesson. The experience of offering a hand, doing a good deed, and feeling the reward of someone else's smile, gratitude and happiness will ensure the kind acts continue. Give 5 minutes of your time and watch the ripple effect.
1.Say "Good morning" to a person standing next to you in the elevator.
2.Pay the toll for the driver behind you. 3.Take a minute to direct someone who is lost, even though you're rushing. 4.Write a letter to a child who could use some extra attention. Kids love getting mail. 5. Offer to pick up groceries for an elderly neighbor, especially in extreme weather. 6. Give a homeless person your doggie bag. 7. Say "I love you" to someone you love. 8. Put a coin in an expired meter. 9. Help a mother carry her baby stroller up the subway stairs, or hold a door open for her. 10. Each time you get a new item of clothing, give away something old. 11. Take someone's shift as the car-pool parent. 12. Bring your assistant coffee. 13. Out of the blue, send flowers to a friend. 14. Say "please" and "thank you"—and really mean it. 15. When you're on a crowded train or bus, offer your seat to an elderly, disabled or pregnant person. 16. Don't interrupt when someone is explaining herself. 17. Let a fellow driver merge into your lane. 18. Offer to baby-sit for a single mom. 19. Put your shopping cart back in its place. 20. Call or write to a teacher who changed your life. 21. Bring a box of doughnuts to share at the office. 22. Forgive someone a debt–and never bring it up again. 23. Listen with all your senses. 24. Write a note to the boss of someone who helps you, and explain how great a job that person is doing. 25. Simply say "I'm sorry" when you're wrong. 26. Throw away your trash—and someone else's—after a movie, picnic or visit to a park. 27. Encourage someone who seems despondent. 28. Volunteer to take care of a friend's dog while he is vacationing. 29. Help a friend pack for a move. 30. Ask someone "How are you really doing?"—and then really listen to her response. 31. Offer change when the person in front of you at the register comes up short. 32. Before a friend moves away, give her your favorite recipe or quote and a photo of the two of you together. 33. Leave a generous tip for a pleasant waiter. 34. At work, offer to transfer a caller who needs help from another department. 35. Pass along a great book you've just finished reading.
This pool is where I spent my afternoon yesterday. Isn't it beautiful? I am enjoying a week of complete pampering at a spa hotel, and even though I don't normally do posts like this, I wanted to share with you just a little bit about this incredible hotel.
My morning began with a 90-minute Essential yoga class that left me feeling strong, stretched, centered & aware. Later, I was able to spend a few relaxing hours at that beautiful pool where I found myself "dozing" in that state between sleep & awake where your mind goes completely blank. It's so easy to relax here at The Standard Miami, which is a spa focused hotel, and is where I am this week. Although this hotel is not high glitz, there is nothing standard about it.There are plenty of hotels on South Beach that are hip at night, but this hotel oozes "hip" during the day.It is about a feeling rather than the size of the pool. It may not be the biggest, shiniest, tallest or most expensive hotel in Miami, but it is certainly the coolest. And although the design certainly got it, it’s not the design that creates the vibe. It’s more the result of an attitude; an attitude that says to be different you have to be different without trying too hard. It feels natural and effortless.
The original motel rooms, built in the 1950's, were too small for bathtubs, so owner Andre Balazs put them outside on patios surrounded by gauzy drapes. Inside, the rooms were cleverly updated, with lots of white paint, more gauzy drapes, and flat-screen TV's with cotton slipcovers so they don't detract from the chic-shack appearance. The Garden Fire Lounge invites you in to sit, relax, nap, or cozy up in the shady wicker loungers. You can enjoy conversation in the Shady Swing Lounge while you suspend yourself in swings under a shadowy trellis. Take your yoga outside in one of the outdoor yoga lawns, or enjoy it waterfront at sunset. Get dirty with your choice of Detoxifying, Purifying or Smoothing Mud in the Mud Lounge. Take a dip in the Arctic Plunge, relax under the waterfall hot tub, or in the sound pool. This place is the epitome of a spa hotel.
Here at The Standard, the atmosphere is informal, so it is not unusual to see guests having lunch in the restaurant, or a cocktail in the bar, in their bathrobes. After all, it is a spa hotel. And as a guest, I can assure you that while you're here, you are pampered and spoiled in a rich atmosphere beyond belief.
What's the best way to let someone know that you're pulling for them, you're proud of them, you believe in them? The biggest ideas in life are often expressed in the fewest words. Throughout the centuries, "I believe in you" has remained a treasured expression of faith and confidence in the human spirit. Spoken softly and sincerely from the heart, those four little words or their equivalent have probably sparked more dreams, ideas, and discoveries.....awakened more artists, inventors, and leaders, and colleagues.....and inspired more companies, communities and countries than any others. Each of us knows how it feels to dream and to doubt. "Our doubts are prison guards," wrote Stephen Crane. "They keep us from the light and the warmth and the sky."
Take it upon yourself to remind one another of the dreams that each of us aspires to. It's more than a great tradition; it's the way set each other free.
From the book I Believe in You
Complied by Dan Zadra
"The exciting qualities you see in others also exist in you.
Are there circumstances in your life that you feel you have no control over and in turn are blaming others for your own unhappiness? It takes an enormous amount of mental energy to blame others. It's a "drag-me-down" mind-set that creates stress and disease. Blaming makes you feel powerless over your own life because your happiness is contingent on the actions and behavior of others, which you can't control. Yes, there are times when other people and/or circumstances contribute to our problems, but it is we who must rise to the occasion and take responsibility for our own happiness. Circumstances don't make a person, they reveal him or her. When you stop blaming others for anything and everything in your life, it doesn't mean that you don't hold people accountable for their actions, but that you hold yourself accountable for your own happiness. Take responsibility for your reactions to other people and the circumstances around you, then hold yourself accountable for that. When you stop blaming others, you will regain your sense of personal power, and you'll begin to see yourself as a choice-maker. At this point life becomes a great deal more fun and much easier.
"People spend too much time finding other people to blame, too much energy finding excuses for not being what they are capable of being, and not enough energy putting themselves on the line, growing out of the past, and getting on with their lives."
What a night! I danced in my local Dancing With The Stars fund raiser event, and we accomplished exactly what we set out to do! We landed a spot in the top 3, which means we got to dance in the 2nd round! I am completely satisfied with that! It was definitely one of my top life highlights. I learned that I will never turn down an opportunity like that, even though it would be easy to let the fear of it all hold you back. Needless to say, we raised a record amount of money for a great cause and I couldn't be happier about that.
Every compliment, criticism, promotion, setback, good vibe, cough or really long line you have to wait in, Connie, is a gift that was meticulously designed to make possible your becoming more than who you were, and ultimately, happier than ever before, as we dance into forever.
How do you ever keep from celebrating, all the time, Connie,
Tomorrow's the big day! I've been in rehearsals for 12 weeks for my local Dancing With The Stars fund raiser event, and it's been amazing. . . . tons of fun, huge smiles, lots of laughter, learning how to dance hip-hop, and especially how to add the attitude that goes with it! I've learned that you cannot be shy and dance hip-hop! When I first blogged about this event,I used a quote by Bernice Johnson Reagon that says,"Life's challenges are not supposed to paralyze you. They're supposed to help you discover who you are." Oh so true. No paralysis here! I have embraced this new experience with all my being, and reminded myself that this, too, is just one more journey that has helped me continue to live a no-regret life. When it's all said and done, I will have one more check mark on my bucket list, a lot of money will have been raised for a good cause, and I'll have memories that will bring a smile to my face for years to come.
I wanted to share post #527 from Neil over at 1000 Awesome Things, and what he has to say about the night before a big day. I am relating at this moment.
It's true.......your parents, employers, co-workers, and friends all have needs for you to be a certain way. And in all likelihood, you have complied with and conformed to those expectations, at the expense of your own gifts, abilities, and dreams. If you send messages to the people around you that you will passively allow them to assign you roles that you wouldn't have chosen in a million years - they will.The people who really care about you will try to find a way to help you get what you want, even if it scares them for you to change.
Change can be painful, even when it is change for the better. You have the ability to light up your life like you can't believe, and the sooner you understand that, the better. Your abilities will flourish when they are not controlled by someone else's idea of who you should be. Your authentic self is there, it has always been there, and it is fully accessible to you. You are not the exception to this fact. There are no exceptions.
Hi! I'm Connie. Thank you for visiting my blog. I am using this space to share words of encouragement, lift spirits, inspire others, and share beautiful photography. It is my hope that I can make a difference in the lives of others, by encouraging them to make the most of theirs.
"If you are not spending all of your waking life in discontent, worry, anxiety, depression, despair, or consumed by other negative states; if you are able to enjoy simple things like listening to the sound of the rain or the wind; if you can see the beauty of clouds moving across the sky or be alone at times without feeling lonely or needing the mental stimulus of entertainment; if you find yourself treating a complete stranger with heartfelt kindness without wanting anything from him or her . . . it means that a space has opened up, no matter how briefly, of alive peace, even though it may be subtle. . . . ."
"So when you appreciate something simple - a sound, a sight, a touch - when you see beauty, when you feel loving kindness toward another, sense the inner spaciousness that is the source and background to that experience. . . . ."
"Be still. Look. Listen. Be present."
So many books...so little time
A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Be by Kobi Yamada
Believe by Dan Zadra & Kobi Yamada
Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
Infinite Possibilities by Mike Dooley
Live Good by Kobi Yamada
Making Your Dreams Come True by Marsha Weider
Talking Like The Rain - a children's book of poetry - Illustrated by Jane Dyer
The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz
The Little Things by Kobi Yamada
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne
PLEASE NOTE: I TRY TO CREDIT ALL PHOTOS AND LINK TO THEIR APPROPRIATE SOURCES. IF THERE are ANY IMAGES HERE THAT ARE NOT CREDITED CORRECTLY OR YOU SIMPLY WISH THEM TO BE REMOVED, PLEASE EMAIL ME AND I WILL DO SO IMMEDIATELY.