Tag Archives: 1000 gifts

8 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Birthday

How old would you be if you didn't know how old you are?  Satchel Paige   Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/s/satchelpai103901.html#bKs6TdBhV2AOtrvI.99

How old would you be if you don’t know how old you are?

I celebrated another birthday this past weekend. A milestone birthday. A b i g birthday. Enough said.

I guess that I am now an expert on preparing for “decade birthdays”. Hmmm…not sure I want to be an expert in this but it is certainly better than the alternative.

So given my experience in this area, I have a few tried-and-true ways to make it through these celebrations. Here is my list of “8 Ways to Have a Stress-Free Birthday.”

1. It’s your birthday. You can cry if you want to.

2. Understand the cycle of acceptance: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance. It is going to happen. You are going to age. Your birthdays will continue to come. Every year. On the same day. Learn how to accept this fact and recognize where you are in the cycle of acceptance. Now move on.

3. Be honest with yourself and your loved ones about how you want to celebrate your special day. Do some real soul searching and be as honest as possible about what you desire. Others cannot read your mind. If it is a milestone birthday, your family and friends may think they need to do something very big and very public. This is a lovely idea if this is what you want. If not then it could be a huge cause of stress. Know what you want and express these wishes to those who love you.

4. That being said, accept whatever gifts you are given for what they are: expressions of love. Do not read between the lines, judge the gifts or the givers, make comparisons, calculate cost or energy. Just accept them graciously. Gift-giving is a talent and few people have the talent of finding just the right thing. Giving gifts can be extremely stressful for many people and some are often paralyzed, overwhelmed and make poor decisions. This does not mean they do not love or appreciate you. Look past the gifts to see and accept the hearts of the givers.

5. Have your own little private celebration. Just you. No one else invited. Celebrate in whatever way you want. No one else needs to know this is what you are doing. It’s your little secret. Go buy a perfect red velvet cupcake and sing to yourself (no candles needed). Maybe a mid-afternoon, self-indulgent nap is your preference. Pedicure? A stroll through a park? A few hours at the beach? Wandering through your favorite bookstore? Give yourself this gift of time alone. You deserve it. And you will feel pampered afterwards.

6. Take some time to set your goals and priorities for the coming year and/or decade. What is really important to you, who is really important to you? Is there something you have always wanted to learn, do or try? How and when will you go about making this happen? Are there things that you need to add to your plate or more likely, take off your plate? What do you need to do to live intentionally? Take the time to actually write these down so that you can revisit them and make necessary adjustments.

7. Tell your loved ones that you love them. It’s frightening to think of all of the people I love and care for yet realize I have only said the words, “I love you” to a handful of people. Expressing love can be a great stress-reliever so make sure that your family and friends know how you feel about them.

8. Count your many blessings. This really works. Whenever you are sad or stressed or frustrated, take a few moments to be thankful. Keep a list. Write down a few everyday. Acknowledge and celebrate the blessings in your life. Poof! Negativity disappears.

These are some of the ways that I have had a stress-free birthday this year–and I have plenty of experience coming up with this list. I hope that it helps you to enjoy these special days!

How do you get through birthdays–especially milestone birthdays?

Goodbye 2013: A Year in Review

As 2013 draws to a close, I thought I would share with you several of my most popular posts and my favorite images. Thank you for reading!

When Everything Has Gone to the Dogs

Chester, one of the "twins"--English Springer Spaniels

Never underestimate the popularity of dogs or babies. This was the favorite post according to my readers.

Game Day Done Right: Road Trip to Ole Miss

Ole Miss Road Trip

Another popular post was the one documenting the road trip we took to our alma mater, Ole Miss, with our daughter and her friend. Read about it here.

These are some of my favorite images from the blog from 2013 in slideshow format.

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Happy New Year!



Breaking All the Rules

Okay. I admit that just saying this makes me a little apprehensive. I’m not much of a rule breaker. I’m more comfortable with boundaries and limits and schedules.

Needing fences

I operate better with some boundaries.

Now I am not saying that I’m not rebellious. I certainly push against these very limits but breaking them is a different matter.

I guess that is why I was so intrigued when Susannah Conway gave me permission to break the rules this month.

Like most bloggers, I have set up a pretty rigid schedule of posting to keep me on track and accountable. It has been a bit more difficult to follow my self-imposed schedule during the summer and I have to admit that I have felt a bit guilty when I have missed a deadline or skimped on content.

With only a few weeks of summer left before my daughter heads back to school, I don’t want to miss out on any time that we may have together as a family. That is why Susannah’s August Break 2013 is so welcome.


So what is the August Break 2013? It is a photo challenge for bloggers that encourages us to simply be present in the moment (not unlike the 1000 Gifts list idea from Ann Voskamp). What challenges me about this is that there really aren’t any rules. She suggests taking a photo and posting it every day but you can also participate less frequently. You can add words or not…it is simply about freedom and enjoying taking photographs.

I need this break in my schedule right now. I am determined to not miss out on any time with my family as the summer slowly slips away.

I know that September will come barging in with its meetings and activities and demands. I also have a big writing project that I will begin in September, so I think a break from words might be a good thing for me.

So, thanks to Susannah, I am giving myself permission to break the rules. Check back in with me when you can to see what photos I am posting. And then come September, I will be back on track.

Savor the summer, my friends!

A cow, a tutu and chocolate milk / 1000 Gifts and Inspiration

Cow close up

#141. Inspired by the absurd

Sometimes you have to look for inspiration. And at other times, it just hits you.

Knowing that this week was a holiday week and that I wanted to spend time with my family and friends, I decided to combine my three weekly posts (1000 Gifts list, Reflection and Inspiration) into one single post. My plan was to write something reflective and inspirational about my gratitude for the freedom we have in our country–something for the Fourth of July. I just had to get inspired….

My  modus operandi when I develop an idea for a post to my blog is to go about my daily routine running errands, doing domestic duties, working, being with my family and friends, etc. but keeping my eyes open and my camera handy. I am constantly on the prowl for the subject of my next piece and never quite know where I am going to find it.

This week was no different. Several things caught my attention and I had a few ideas brewing in my head. One particular event over the weekend was simply full of possibilities…but, alas, I promised the folks involved that it would not end up on my blog (at least not yet).

And then suddenly there it was: inspiration. As I sat at a seemingly endless stoplight I looked to my left and saw it. The Coburg Cow. In a tutu.

If you live in Charleston, SC or are familiar with this portion of Savannah Highway (Highway 17 South), you already know what I am talking about and you have probably seen this icon dressed in all manner of attire. For the rest of you, here is a summary. The Coburg Cow is a three-dimensional rotating sign featuring a cow and a bottle of milk (sometimes chocolate or egg nog) that is situated at St. Andrews Shopping Center on Savannah Highway in West Ashley. The sign was erected for the Coburg Dairy in 1959 and has become a landmark in this city of many landmarks.

I grabbed my camera and managed to get a few shots before the light turned green. Even though the tutu was wet from the days of rain we have had, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of the thing.

Later over lunch, my husband suggested that this just might be the inspiration I was looking for this week. We discussed the cow over nachos wondering how many people drove by her over the years? How long has she been wearing costumes? Was it a particular person’s job to dress her or did a team do this? And when? Had anyone ever seen her being costumed on the spot or did they come in the middle of the night? So many questions….Quite a bit of conversational mileage for a silly cow in a tutu.

Inspiration can come in many forms: in the beautiful, the heroic, the creative, the compassionate,…and sometimes in the absurd.

One Thousand Gifts / #131-140

I am particularly thankful this week for the blessing of Camp St. Christopher on Seabrook Island. My daughter just returned yesterday from her eighth year of this awesome summer camp. They are celebrating their 75th anniversary this weekend. I will be writing more about the impact of Camp St. Christopher on my family and so many others on this blog on Tuesday, so please come back and check it out.

131. Rosebank Farms

132. Mother’s birthday

133. Rain boots on a rainy day

134. Puddles

135. Hello sunshine

136. 75 years of sharing Jesus with kids

137. Camp friends

138. Seaside baptism with a cloud of witnesses

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us…Hebrews 12:1

139. Saying goodbye Carolina style–one last Shag dance

140. Teenager home from camp

One Thousand Gifts / #120-130

Much to be thankful for in my life and this week’s additions reflect that!

Terrace / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

120. Date night

Chili co queso / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

121. Chips and queso

Palmetto moon in parking lot / Photo by Amy Watson Smith, 2013

122. Palmetto moon in parking lot

Edisto tomato pie

123. Edisto tomato pie

124. Daughter dooting on daddy

124. Daughter doting on daddy

125. Caught in rain storm

125. Caught in rainstorm

126. Respite from rain

126. Respite from rain

127. Monster frog

127. Lowcountry full of life

128. Returning to camp

128. Returning to camp

129. St. Michael's VBSers praying for George

129. St. Michael’s VBSers praying for George

130. Fields flowered in color

130. Fields flowered with color