An Uplifting Tale: Life isn’t what I make it

I’m going to tell you something that hit me upside the head today: Life is not what I make it.

WAIT WAIT HOLD ON. 93% of you just started to continue to scroll down your Insta feed thinking, “Psh Mac I don’t have time for this Eeyore mentality. There’s @liketoknowit outfits to screenshot and cozy sweaters to covet.”

I agree with you, 110%. There’s too much beauty in this world to be stuck in the quagmire of our own anxious thoughts.

That’s why I’m standing today by the statement, “Life is not what I make it.”

A couple of nights ago, I texted friend just before going to sleep with a message that said something like, “Every cell of my body feels stressed.”  Have you ever been there? Had those times when your mind has your heart in a vice grip and it feels impossible to feel the sweet release of relaxation? Nope, it’s just me? Ha, okay 😉

I hated that feeling so much that I decided to conduct an experiment the next day. Every time I felt stressed or anxious, took a quick mental note and asked myself a quick series of questions:

  1. “Beyond prayer, is there anything I am personally capable of doing to fix the situation?”

If no, then I lifted it up to God and shut the stressor down right there.

If yes, then I continued:

2. “What are the steps I need to take immediately to fix the problem?”

Think about how many of your daily anxieties can be fixed with one text, call, or Google search. Minimum: 73%. So, don’t put it off – do it right then. Then, be FREE (until you get a response – then start back at question 1).

I’m also the queen of spending hours wording the perfect text or email. But remember – perfect is often the friend of the procrastinator, and the enemy of productivity. Identify what’s required, say “Good enough.” and send it. You have my permission. You’re welcome.

If you need to take steps that you can’t take immediately – say, when you get off the airplane or wake up tomorrow – write them down. A to-do list tames the abstract beast of anxiety looming in your brain. Think–turning a tiger into a purring kitten. Write the step. Then leave the stress.

Continuing:

3. “Will my stress in and of itself—elevated heart rate, tension, etc.—fix the problem?”

That answer is always NO. Actually, it only makes everything worse because you’re thinking clearly. And, if it makes it worse, then that’s something else for you to stress about…END THE CYCLE.

With those three questions, the situation goes from mountain to molehill because THE THINGS WE CANNOT IMMEDIATELY FIX ARE NOT WORTH OUR IMMEDIATE WORRY. And, I gave myself the ability to do the following:

  • Realize and release what I can’t control.
  • Develop a game plan to attack what I can.
  • Diffuse my physical reaction to the stressful stimulus. 

 

Is there a lot happening in my life right now? Sure. But, I was allowing my stress to color my perception of reality and was becoming weight down with things that were / are beyond my control.

 

So I realized today that my life is not what I make it. Stress is like sunglasses – remove them to see the real colors around you. Life is usually better than stress makes it seem – and, you’re doing better than you think you are 🙂

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Skydiving? No, thanks!

Skydiving isn’t my thing. Why? Because I’m a fan of safety nets and assurances. I’m a master at crafting contingency plans. I like knowing that – whatever happens – if it goes right, I did well. If it goes wrong, but still turns out okay – then I still did well (#contingencyplans). & if it goes totally wrong – well, then there’s nothing that I could have done to stop it. That mindset has served me well in the business world. But what about in my personal life? I try to implement my contingencies there, too. It goes something like: Plan A) Pray & trust God. Plan B) Line up something in case God doesn’t come through. I prepare myself to settle. & the funny thing is – if I have a contingency plan, does that mean that I’m really trusting God at all? Absolutely not. And, as has happened in my life lately, when my contingency plans fall through, my distrust is laid bare – and that’s ugly. But we serve a God who already “knows the plans he has for us” (Jeremiah 29:11) and has known each big & small step in our lives from the very beginning (Psalm 139:16). So, I’m going to chose to discard my “safety net plans”, and trust only in His. It’s a process, and I won’t be perfect today, but I do resolve to do it. Will you join me?

5 Last-Minute Gifts that Will Also Be The Best Ones Under the Tree

Moment of honesty: I really don’t like getting people “things.”

I think it’s part of the reason I’m so bad at Christmas shopping. I keep holding out, thinking, “This would be a good gift, but it’s not it. There’s something missing. I want something that’s just a little…more. Something that feels right.” If you’ve ever been stuck in this holiday gifting rut, I know exactly what you feel—and, I’ve figured out the perfect solution. Track with me here:

How do you find the perfect Christmas gift when no gift seems to fit? What do you buy for the person who has everything?

Answer: Gift experiences.

Sometimes, the best things to give aren’t things at all. The best way to light up someone’s face on Christmas morning can be with a wonderfully thoughtful, personalized experience.

My parents are MASTERS at this art. One Christmas, they drove my brother, cousin and I to the Disney store. They told us to hold out our hands for our Christmas present. And, when we opened our eyes, we were all holding Mickey Mouse scarves. We looked at them, a bit perplexed. They were both smiling ear-to-ear, and we couldn’t quite figure out why.

“For your Christmas gift this year, we’re going to DISNEY WORLD!”

And after an initial moment of shock and surprise, our faces lit up and we started jumping up and down, hugging our Mickey Mouse scarves and each other. It was magical.

Now I am NOT saying that you should buy your mom, dad, sister, cousin, or significant other a trip to Disney World (unless that’s your thing – then you do you!).

But we ARE in the Christmas crunch time! So let me help you out with five outstanding home-run experiences to gift this Christmas that you can put together in less than a day!

To make it easy on you, I’ve listed what you should put under the tree, and what the real gift should be to maximize the shock & awe value.

Less than $50:

*Under the tree: Buy a trendy wallet or card holder. Fill it with $20-$50 worth of $5 gift cards to the gift receiver’s favorite places – including coffee shops, movie theaters, stores, etc. (That’s 4-10 gift cards!) Wrap + put under the tree.

Total gift: When they open the wallet, tell them it’s good for an afternoon out with you. Use the gift cards to grab coffee and go shopping, see a movie – whatever you’d like!

*Under the tree: Place a new workout top, lux fuzzy robe, or slippers.

Total Gift: Tell the gift recipient that you gifted them a spa day or fun workout class – like Pilates, Yoga, Cycling – something fun for both of you to do together! Follow it up by getting juice / coffee and giving the gift of time.

*Under the tree: This one is a bit flexible. You can beautifully wrap the person’s favorite bottle of champagne, two candlesticks, two champagne flutes, two napkin holders—whatever you’d like!

Total Gift: When the gift recipient opens the package, let them know that the gift is that you’d like to make him / her a special dinner! Tell them the date, and that the meal is a surprise. On the night of, go all out – set the table to reflect their style, make their favorite dish, and top it off with their favorite drink / dessert!

(HINT: You can make this a gift for your parents, too! Offer to make them a delicious dinner & give them a memorable evening.)

Less than $100:

*Under the tree: Hop on Ticketmaster, and find a concert, show, or event coming up that the gift recipient would really enjoy. You can search Fort Wayne, Indianapolis, Chicago, Kalamazoo – wherever! Then, buy the gift recipient something that relates to the show. Maybe it’s a t-shirt from the band, a shirt / accessory for them to wear to the show, a punny gift that gives them a hint as to what you’re seeing (e.g., a cat stuffed animal for the musical Cats), something that represents the city you’re going to to see it (e.g., Chicago-style pizza for Chicago)…get creative and give them something that will make them say “WOW” or will make them laugh! Wrap your package with this gift on top, and the tickets underneath.

Total Gift: Well, take them to the event of course! Make it a fun outing – get coffee before or drinks after. Give them a memorable (and Insta-worthy) evening.

Less than $250:

*Under the tree: There’s all sorts of travel deals this time of year! Find one on a great hotel / lodge / B&B between 45 minutes and 3 hours away. (I’d recommend searching AirBnB, Priceline, Hotwire, HotelTonight – even the hotel / lodge themselves may be having a special!) Write three clues to where / what it is, and place them in separate envelopes under the tree. When the time comes, have the gift recipient(s) open one at a time, and try to guess where they’re going!

Total Gift: Take the overnight with your special someone, friend(s), or family! One room usually sleeps 4 people, so this one is also perfect for gifting to a close group of friends or the fam.

Have other great ideas for Experience Gifts? Email them to me at info@kenzi-caudill.com!

Live Epic.

I fully intend to live an epic life.

One of my earliest memories is sitting in the backseat as my parents drove though the lush, green forests just outside one of Germany’s fairytale castles, Schloss Spangenberg, listening to Cats through my black Walkman cassette player. The last three days had been filled with imagination and adventure – “knights in shining armor” (decorative coats of armor), “princess dinners” (lace gowns and five-course meals in the vaulted dining room), and “invaders from the North” (the unsuspecting sheep that inhabited the castle moat).

That moment in the car felt just about perfect to my four year-old self. I pretended I was holding a camera, squinted through one eye, and said “click”.

More than 20 years later, I’m still all about finding thrilling experiences and perfect moments. And, in New York, there’s no shortage. That’s the purpose of this blog – sharing the best events, music, and travel experiences that allow you to find that next adventure or fun evening out.

Cheers to what’s next.

Kenzi

Photo credit: Castle – HPollmeier via Flickr; Forest – http://bieneklopp.com