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Elizabeth Barbour, M. Ed.
The Revitalized Business Woman
Missouri City (Houston), Texas

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Wednesday
Dec272017

Bye-Bye 2017...Hello 2018!

I love the week between Christmas and New Year's? Do you? It's one of my favorite weeks of the year as things slow down…we experience the pause between the frenzy of the holidays…and we prepare to release the old year and embrace a brand new one!

It’s a wonderful time to review your year – celebrate the highlights, learn from the lowlights and then say “bye-bye” and leave it all in the dust as the clock strikes midnight and you get to start all over again. 2017 turned out to be a challenging year for many, much like 2016. It’s time to press the reset button.

The New Year brings with it a blank slate, a sense of "anything's possible" and lots of hope and anticipation about the future. It feels fresh and new and squeaky clean!

Here are a few questions that I invite you to consider as we embark on the New Year. You may want to pull out your journal and write down your observations, or print this out and discuss with your partner, children or best friend.

 

2017 in Review

What did you accomplish this year?

What challenged you this year?

What did you learn about yourself?

What are you ready to let go of?

What do you wish to bring forward into the New Year?

 

Looking Ahead to 2018

What is your theme for the New Year?

What specific goals do you have?

How would you like to FEEL in 2018?

What new experiences would you like to have?

What do you want to be celebrating on Dec 31, 2018?

 

Happy New Year! May 2018 bring abundant blessings to you and yours!

Elizabeth

P.S. If you are a professional woman in the Houston area and are looking for support in inviting abundant blessings into your life and revitalizing your business and your life, I invite you to join me for my annual Vision Board Retreat on Friday, January 12th!

 

 

Wednesday
Dec132017

Holiday Gift Guide 2017: Smart Gifts for Busy Professional Women

Season’s Greetings!

I’m all about keeping gift giving simple during the holidays so when you can find gifts that are beautiful AND personalized, too, it’s a win-win for all!

In 2015, I suggested experiential gifts, books and more.

In 2016, I suggested sensory gifts and more books.

But after living through Hurricane Harvey this year, many Houstonians have realized that we don’t need a lot of the stuff that we have.  During the evacuation, most of us protected family heirlooms, art, and jewelry. The rest of our “stuff” didn’t matter.

So this year, I’m recommending artistic gifts … and of course a few more books!

My favorite artistic gifts to give this year:

  1. Art you can wear! My dear friend Mista Whitson lives in the gorgeous mountains of Asheville, NC and she is a gifted watercolor artist. I hired her to paint Eric’s family farm as a wedding present to him and then she surprised us with a wedding present of a watercolor of the two of us from our wedding day. They are two of the most treasured pieces of original art we own! Now Mista is designing tiny watercolor pieces of art that you can wear as jewelry! Necklaces and earrings that are simply delightful and always make me so happy to wear them. She will create custom orders for you and ship anywhere in the country. The price is right and she’s delightful to work with. Tell her I sent you!
  2. Stunning jewelry that feels good. My first “real” job at 16 years old was working at Cappiello Brothers Jewelers in my hometown of Ridgefield, Connecticut. I learned about fine jewelry during those years and still remember taking more than a year to save up $400 so I could buy myself my first piece of “real” jewelry – an amethyst and diamond ring. (I still have that ring and plan to give it to Riley some day!) Other than books, jewelry is probably what I buy myself the most often. I saw one of Heather Chappelear’s stunning Coptic Crosses in a photo a few months ago and knew I had to own it. What I didn’t know is that the beads are made of white turquoise which is a very healing stone and every time I wear that necklace, I feel balanced and beautiful. Amazed that a piece of jewelry can make you feel that way? Buy one of Heather’s creations and see for yourself!
  3. Whimsical art. I’m not usually one to buy street art, but when I passed Katie Leese’s booth in New Orleans, I couldn’t take my eyes off of her adorable birds. Bright, colorful and with positive messages, these make great little gifts and the price is right!
  4. Heirloom art. If you want to give a meaningful gift to a loved one, look no further than commissioning Catherine Gauche to create a masterpiece of your child. I adore Catherine’s process because she invites the child to her studio to paint the background… Riley had a blast! Then, Catherine goes back and paints a portrait of your child over the canvas that your little one created using a photograph that you furnish as a guide. When I received this piece of art yesterday, it literally took my breath away. I can’t share it here because I’m giving it to Eric as a Christmas present, but it’s definitely one of the best investments I’ve made in giving a meaningful gift from a brilliant artist.

And of course More Books – When in doubt, buy books! While I love to give books that I’ve personally read, it’s important to keep in mind who is receiving the gift and what their hobbies and interests are. A few of my favorites from this year:

  1. Patti Digh’s The Geography of Loss. For anyone who’s experienced loss, this is a stunningly gorgeous book helping us to create maps to navigate the journeys of our lives.
  2. Sheryl Sandberg’s Option B. I got to hear her speak in Houston earlier this year and I was so inspired by how she faced the sudden death of her husband with such grit and grace. This book is about how to live life to the fullest, even when it doesn’t turn out how you think it’s going to.
  3. Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art and Turning Pro are excellent gifts for anyone in your life who is creative but gets blocked from time to time (um, that’s all of us, right?!) They are small books with a BIG impact. If you buy these for a friend, be sure to buy some for yourself, too.

Hope you got a few good ideas here. If you have more creative gifts to share with me, I’d love for you to hit reply and tell me about them!

Here’s to smooth and easy holiday gift shopping for all of us!

Elizabeth

P.S. And by the way, if you’re a woman entrepreneur in Houston, you may want to give yourself the gift of a Vision Board Retreat  with me on Friday, January 12th. A great gift for yourself and your business (or a friend and her business!) to help set you up for success in 2018!

Wednesday
Nov082017

Gratitude Rituals for Thanksgiving Time

Rituals matter.

When you think about your life and some of the biggest moments in it, chances are good there were some ritual involved.

Rituals are time honored traditions, ceremonies or other actions performed that create intentional space for people to come together and be present with one another. Whether celebrating at a wedding or grieving at a funeral, these sacred containers of time and space allow us to suspend ordinary reality for a few hours or days and be present with ourselves, with our community, and with God.

Rituals can also be the simple things that we do every day that gives our lives meaning and invite us to take time to slow down and pause. Perhaps you savor your morning cup of tea in your grandmother’s china teacup. Or call a long distance loved one at the same time every week. Maybe you say the exact same prayer with your children before you tuck them into bed each night.

Ever since my mom died last year, I've been thinking a lot about the importance of rituals in our lives.  The white rose ceremony that I held for my mother here in Houston and then at her funeral in Clearwater, Florida helped me, and others who loved her, to let her go with love and respect, honor, and dignity.

As we approach another holiday season without her, I think about her a lot and the rituals she created in our little family of three when I was growing up.

In the summertime at the peak of berry season, it would be a grand treat to have strawberry shortcake on Sundays for lunch. Not dessert. But lunch. She would make these huge flaky cat head size biscuits and she would soak the strawberries and sugar overnight. She made homemade whipped cream and slathered the biscuits with fresh creamed butter. This was a summer ritual for our family. YUM!

For our birthdays, whoever's birthday we were celebrating got to choose their favorite meal and Mom would make it. Mine was always lamb chops. Thick juicy lamb chops that we would buy from the butcher at Brunetti's market in downtown Ridgefield, Connecticut where I grew up.

Every Friday, we would get pizza from Venice Pizzeria and then we would go to Baskin Robbins and get jamoca almond fudge for my mom and mint chocolate chip for me and my dad.

And of course, there were always holiday rituals. We had to have pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, open one present on Christmas Eve after going to church and my parents threw their festive champagne infused New Year's Eve party every year when I was little.

When I think back on the happy memories of growing up, it's these rituals that I remember the most.

Now that I have my own little family, also a family of three, we are establishing our own rituals. Both my husband and I are very mindful of teaching our daughter the importance of expressing gratitude. We believe it’s important to live your life from a place of thankfulness and to count your blessings every single day. We’ve had several loved ones die in the past year and have a few other beloveds who are battling difficult diseases right now. Every minute we have on this Earth is precious and cultivating a regular practice of gratitude is good for the mind, body, and spirit.

Here are three Gratitude Rituals for Thanksgiving Time for you to consider incorporating into your family and/or business practices. 

November is a great time to start because there is an attitude of gratitude that is pervasive in our communities, but of course, these rituals would be appropriate at any time of year.

1. Start a gratitude bowl. At work or at home (or both!), start a practice of recording your gratitudes on slips of paper and then putting it in a special bowl dedicated to this purpose. Then once a week or once a month, have a team or family meeting to sit down and one by one, review the gratitudes and savor them again. It's a conscious way to connect with your colleagues and loved ones and it's a terrific exercise to foster good will in the work place and to teach children the value of sharing our gratitudes on a daily basis.

2. Express your gratitude directly. People like to be appreciated for a job well done, a goal achieved, a risk taken, or simply for being kind. Some easy ways to do this:

  •  Give someone a shout out on social media (Facebook and Twitter are great for this!) or a recommendation on LinkedIn, Amazon or Yelp (depending on their business).
  • Send a personalized card (and maybe a gift, too) using Send Out Cards. This system is a great way to really send a heartfelt thank you. (Want to learn more? Send me an email! It’s one of my favorite systems in my business!)
  • Pick up the phone and CALL someone. (Not a text, not an email!) It’s guaranteed to brighten their day.

3. Keep a gratitude journal. This is a practice that was popularized by Oprah years ago so you've probably heard of it. But have you ever kept one? It’s an excellent discipline to help you shift your focus from what’s missing in your life to instead shine the spotlight on the abundance you already have in your life! Once I started keeping a gratitude journal, it helped me to be more open and receptive to the abundance of good flowing my way. Simply dedicate a journal to your gratitude practice and write down 3-5 things each day that you’re grateful for.

Giving voice to your blessings sends a message to the universe that you are grateful to receive which tends to prime the pump for more abundance and goodness to flow your way! If you already have a gratitude ritual that you do, I’d love to hear about it – send me a note! Or if you decide to try one of these, let me know how it goes.

As always, I’m GRATEFUL you are here in my community,

Elizabeth

P.S. I’ve decided to resume publishing my e-zine once a month so we can stay connected. If you want more regular contact, please come say hello on Facebook!

P.P.S. If you’re in the Houston area, I want to be sure you know about my upcoming one day retreats! New Year, New You! Business Planning Retreat for 2018 – December 7, 2017 from 9-3 and the

Vision Board Retreat 2018 – January 12, 2018 from 9-1