The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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An Appreciative Valentine’s or Any Day

So I’m sort of on the fence about Valentine’s Day. It could be due to the fact that I’m unattached at the moment and everyone else around me has someone special, but I don’t think my dislike of chocolate and roses, two main staples of this Hallmark holiday, helps.

Still when this holiday rolls around, I can’t help but be a little inspired by all of the craftiness heartsyou see in the blogosphere, not to mention the increase in popularity of  things to do for
“Galentine’s Day.”

(For those who may be confused: Galentine’s Day is the day where you celebrate your girlfriends. As per Parks & Recreation, where it’s said to have originated, it is celebrated on the day before Valentine’s Day, February 13th.)

 

Appreciation – It Doesn’t Have to be Reserved for February

I love to show those I care about how much I appreciate them, and while I may not get on the whole Valentine’s or Galentine’s Day bandwagon – and neither should you if it’s not your thing – I thought perhaps I’d turn this into more a heart-themed appreciation post.

I’ve come across some great homemade ideas over the years.  So why not skip the card aisle this year and show your love and/or appreciation on February 13th OR February 14th (as we’ve become trained apt to do) or just do these at any time.  Just saying… break the mold once in a while.  Appreciation is a year-round thing. 🙂

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The Appreciation Factor’s Turns 5!

5th-anniversary

Today is the The Appreciation Factor’s 5th Anniversary!  

Wow! Who knew when I started this blog in 2012 that I would still be here 5 years later. Well….I’d hoped I’d still be here, but you know best intentions and all of that. Here we are, 80+ posts later.

When I started out, I knew that I wanted to create a blog about a topic I was passionate about, so it started with talking about the importance of writing Thank you notes. However, I wasn’t sure that there would be enough content around just writing about thank you notes and I decided to expand it to “sharing appreciation,” but truly it became the overarching topic of appreciation.  I also knew that to some degree I couldn’t worry about whether others disagreed with me or not.  As I’ve stated in the “about me” page, I primarily write to share my passion about appreciation and gratitude, but I also want to offer a point of view that you may not have considered, or tips to help you share your appreciation.

I’ve been really happy to find ways to expand on my “how to write”/”why write thank you notes” posts to cover Things I Appreciate, like Día de los Muertosfall, beach etiquette, my fitness quest (still going strong by the way!), New Jersey and many more. You may have also seen two posts where I was fortunate to partner with others.  The first as a guest blogger on The Cutie Life, and more recently where I featured etiquette coach, Janet Parnes.  Both were extremely rewarding and I’m in talks with other bloggers and professionals to do more!

Two other additions to the blog that have become favorites of mine are Thankful Thursdays where I curate stories and/or videos that I feel exemplify appreciation, have moved me, or talk about people making a difference; and the second where I write about showing appreciation, especially in the form of Random Acts of Kindness (ROAKs) and promoting Giving Tuesday.  Both I are causes anyone can do, and both help make the world a better place.
The Future

I hope to continue to share some fresh posts on the topics above, and come up with new ones. Part of the challenge fun about having a blog is that you can come up with new features, approaches or even a new direction.  I hope you’ll continue to come along for the ride as I go into my 5th year, as well as share my posts with others, on your blogs or via Social Media, or not… as I’m content to have you simply read and enjoy them.  I’m appreciative of all of my followers, and really at the end of the day, if I’ve made you think about something in a new way, or supported a viewpoint you already have, then I’ve already done what I’d hoped to do.

 

Content/Compensation Free:

One additional thing that I wanted to clarify.  At times I will promote a brand, site, product etc.  At this time, The Appreciation Factor is not written for financial gain. I write it to support my passion for all things appreciation and writing.  I am not paid, nor do I receive any products to talk about. Candidly I have considered this option and I’m not against this approach as I’ve thought about a post/partnering with a paper company or another service that promoted appreciation, gratitude and thanks yous, but to date, I have not.  Should this ever change, I will absolutely let you know, and be very clear about it in the post.
What this means: Unless I state otherwise, all opinions are mine and I’m not compensated for any links or clicks you make on The Appreciation Factor.  Feel free click without worry and the ability to see that related content on a separate tab. (A pet peeve of mine are posts that take me away from the content I’m reading just to sell me something. Perhaps that’s how one is “supposed to do it”, but it’s just not for me.) I hope this encourages you to click, read, and share to your heart’s content.

 

Please, please, please don’t hesitate to also share your ideas. While I’m always searching the internet and news for stories and topics, I may miss something. Let me know if you see something you think I should share or a topic I should cover. I love hearing from my followers.

 

Best wishes, and many thanks to each of you. Here’s to 5 more years! (Hey I can dream can’t I?)

K

 


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Thankful Thursdays the January 19th Edition

Happy Thankful Thursday my wonderful followers.  I also wish you a Happy 2017. Still can’t believe it’s 2017!Thankful Thursdays Logo

It’s true what they say, the years do fly by faster as you get older, BUT we still need to make and take the time to be grateful and show kindness.

 

 

I thought for this Thankful Thursday, I would share some links that I’ve been seeing and things that I’ve been doing around gratitude. I’ve really seen an influx of ideas this January as well as a BIG push for “writing” thank you notes — It makes me excited and grateful.  I think starting out the new year with these good intentions is a great way to go, as the new year can really be challenging and overwhelm for some people. This helps put your priorities in a good place.

 

52 Things in 52 Weeks

This year, in addition to creating a 52 things in 52 weeks list (a much more manageable task than I think the 101 things in 1001 days I tried before), I’ve committed myself to several things around showing gratitude. Here are just a few on my list:

  1. Write at least 3 things per week that I’m grateful for – this has proved to be a little harder. Not so much as in coming up with things, but remembering to write them down!!
  2. Write 52 Thank you or Just Because notes – I’m on track having written 6 already!  I want to get better at writing more just because ones!
  3. Volunteer for 5 Events w/ increased contribution over 2016
  4. Splurge on flowers for myself 1x/month – a little bit of self gratitude can go a long way!
  5. Complete 365 Rock Your Happy Challenge
  6. Complete a 100HappyDaysChallenge in words/pictures

BTW: I got the amazing idea for 52 things in 52 week from the L is for Lucy blog.  Here’s her 2017 list.  Want to make your own?  I don’t think it’s too late to do it as 1. You can likely knock off more than 1 in 1 week for a few weeks OR who’s to say when your 52 weeks must start. Maybe you like to start anew in February or in your birthday month!

 

 

365 Rock Your Happy Challenge

You might notice #5 that talks about the 365 Rock Yourself Happy Challenge.  This is a great challenge by Bree of Baked Bree and Kristen of @dineanddish.  Each week, I get 7 tasks, one for each day, to complete.  “The prompts are little things that are doable, simple, and shouldn’t take more than a few minutes each day. As they say, “Little things that potentially can have a huge impact in our everyday lives.””
Tasks range from doing things for yourself to prompts of doing things for other people.   I signed up as I wanted to start making small changes that make me happier and I was even MORE pleased when I saw how many acts of kindness and gratitude that they include each week. It’s a win win for me.

Definitely consider signing up for this 

 

 

Happify Happiness Compliment Chain

The Happiness Compliment Chain is a site I found via my #365RockYourSelfHappyChallenge.  Developed by Happify, it’s one of the easiest ways to brighten your day and someone else’s.  The idea is centered around sending a genuine compliment (in note form) to someone and thereby creating a Kindness Chain.  Happify’s thought is that “kindness is contagious and we want to make it easy to spread.”  The Kindness Chain is set up to reach numerous people. Here are some compliment “messages” you can choose from. Once you select the one you like, you have the option to write your own messages or use their template version (See the sample below.)

pic courtesy of happify.com

fill-in-the-blanks

 

I’ve sent 8 already — just sent another one while writing this post.  It is kind of contagious.

 

 

Pictures courtesy of happify.com

 

 

Connect with someone you love

This is a great idea that requires intention and mindfulness.  You may need to “schedule” it until it becomes a habit.
Per Camille Styles one of the top 10 successful and happy women do each morning is connect with someone they love each day.  Her suggestions: “Whether it’s a breakfast date with your partner or a tickle session with your kids, connecting with someone you love first thing will set your priorities and remind you of what’s really important. Even if the morning is really busy, try to sit down for a few minutes over breakfast and talk about what’s going on in each others’ lives.
I love this idea.

 

 

Performing Random Acts of Kindness

If you’ve been following me long (It will be 5 years in 2 weeks!!), you know that I’m a HUGE supporter of performing Random Acts of Kindness aka #ROAKs.   Sometimes the challenge with these can be the lack of ideas of how to execute one.  Well fret no more.  In this week’s #365RockYourselfHappyChallenge I am tasked with “Doing a Good Deed.”  Fortunately I had something in mind, but the girls provided me with this link to The Random Acts of Kindness Blog. How I didn’t see this particular site before when I’ve promoted ROAKs, I don’t know, but it’s amazing!

Some “topics” you can choose from:

  • Ideas You Can Do with Your Family
  • Ideas for Strangers
  • Things to Do at Work
  • Things to do Online
  • Sports

I was pretty impressed with the Sports option on myself. (These include cleaning gym equipment and cheering on a teammate).  I think I would add, “Make a sign cheering someone on,” or “Wishing him/her good luck before the game.”  The other idea I can’t wait to try is donating books to (in my case) a Little Free Library and a year of thank you notes (as listed in my 52 things list.)

ANYONE can perform a random act of kindness and it really does make a difference in your life and to those you’ve done it for.

 

Other things worth noting

On LinkedIn I’m seeing a growing number of articles that promote the Handwritten Thank you note. Just today I read one by  in reference to meeting for Coffee. Check it out here.
Not sure how to write one? Check out my detailed posts here (Why you should hand write them) and here (Tips on writing a memorable thank you note).

Did you notice all of the brands/companies that sent Thank you Emails or had an “Thank-you” message as a stand-alone commercial during the holidays and in the first few weeks of this year? I did, and I was impressed. I’m definitely more inclined to shop at a store that appreciates me.

 

What additional ideas do you have for sharing kindness, happiness and gratitude?
I’d love to hear them and share them in an upcoming Thankful Thursday’s issue!
Drop me a note or comment below.


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Heartfelt Wishes

Happy New Year

new-yearsPhoto Credit: Paperless PostThe Indigo Bunting/Erin Jang

 

I wanted to take a moment to Thank All of You… my Followers especially, but also the visitors, mentors, and fellow bloggers as well, that continue to visit and/or comment on my site, The Appreciation Factor.  I hope you’ve found the posts helpful, insightful, or that they’ve provided a new point of view. I’m so grateful for you all.

 

I know I didn’t post as often as I should have wanted to this year, but my passion for all things Appreciation has not wavered, but simply the act of completing the posts was challenging at times for me. This was especially true when I always wanted to ensure that my posts and topics are fresh/new content and paused when I wasn’t sure that it was.  Still for 2017, I hope to overcome these insecurities challenges and get more posts out in the new year.

Know that I’m forever grateful for your support, and for those that continue (or start) to follow this blog. You cheer me and humble me simultaneously.

 

May you have much success and happiness in 2017!
I hope you’ll come back for fresh content, tips on saying and writing thank yous (or just notes),
and for new things to appreciate.

I do have a few ideas up my sleeve and hope to start posting in early January. (Thanks for your patience!)

Sincerely,

k of taf


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Best of All…. the Fall

Fahhhhhll…. Is anyone else loving how the fall foliage has remained on the trees much longer this year? I know I am. Apparently the fluctuations of warm weather and lack of frosts are the culprit – which doesn’t bode well environmentally, but, well, I’ll take it if not simply for its beauty.

As you may know, I’m a proclaimed beach girl, so summer is my go to time of the year, but fall…. well fall has always run a close second and perhaps at times takes the lead before the approach of May/June when it summer becomes the front-runner once again.

I think I enjoy fall so much because for me, fall is the time to start anew – perhaps more so than January 1st.
Likely this harkens back to my school days, which I somewhat dreaded, yet looked forward to for the fresh start they brought.  Fall was a time where you could reinvent yourself, try something new, fall in love, or just gain a new perspective. Plus, well, I’m also a fan of fall sports.

ygm-fall-quoteI also love fall for the dramatic visuals it gives us.  As someone who once lived in an area that didn’t have distinctive seasons, fall was definitely the one I missed the most. You may think that living in spring/summer all of time sounds ideal, but really, at least for me, I missed the change to crisp cool weather and the red, orange, yellow, and even the brown, foliage.  I longed for crisp cool days where I could pull on a cozy sweater and boots and explore hushed woods and leaf-strewn pathways vs. sandy beaches and sun-baked terrain.

There’s something magical and overwhelmingly peaceful about walking on nature trails in New England in the fall and stopping to hear… “nothing”… well not nothing, but possibly a slight breeze, a bubbling brook, and/or the rustling of leaves. For me, it’s like time momentarily stops and a calming sense of peace overcomes me.  I’m overtaken by the beauty of the colors, the earthy smells, and a feeling of how grateful I am to be there in that moment, appreciative of being alive, and enjoying fall in all her splendor.

 

The last two weeks I’ve been changing up my exercise routine to include more outdoor walks along many of the Trustees of the Reservations trails and local land trust parks. I’m in awe and have an appreciation of the beauty I’ve encountered. Here are just a few snaps. (Check out that one leaf pic – it was LARGER than my head!!!)

 

fall-collage

What about you… what season is your favorite?  If you love fall like me, what do you appreciate about it most?

hemingway

 


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600

Just an update for those who’ve been following my fitness quest

Today #

600-days                                                                                                                                                                      is in the books.

I know I should be doing the #happydance

 

giphy

and appreciate what I’ve accomplished but, candidly the last 100 days haven’t been as great as the first 500. My interest and drive has waned and waistline is starting to expand.  Still I’ve not stopped.

For me, I’ve found that once you start something/a goal, it’s hard to stop – or better said, difficult to justify stopping/not working out, simply because I want to watch something on TV or “just don’t feel like it.”  I also haven’t completed the goal started eating healthier, “as planned.”  While my weight loss has stalled and started to go in the other direction, despite working out, I can get down right discouraged.  But hey… the harder and longer workouts I was doing aren’t happening as frequently as they should, and are replaced by “easier” walks, so I really have no one to blame but myself.  (Yeah… I’m finding that I’m not as nice to myself about this.)  Still I can say to say that I have done something – like a 20-30+ walk or workout video every day since March 8, 2015. That’s something and I know I’d be in worse shape had I not been doing anything at all.  I just need to get psyched up and motivated again… perhaps that’s also why I’m blogging about it, to regain that excitement.

 

What’s Next

Next week I’m trying a new food plan – it’s a two-week boost process where I’ll eat healthier, through the omission of several favorite “food groups” – like whole wheat and dairy. It does allow for snacks of pickles, nuts, and certain veggies – Yea!! – but am not a fan of plans that deny things.  For me, it makes me want them more.    Still maybe this is what I need to do to get me back on track. My current goal is to make it another 112 days and complete to 2 years straight.  That’s not many days at all when you think about how many I’ve done so far. I want to do this, but I would love to do this with a little more gusto and enthusiasm.  Despite what many in my position could feel, I have not become excited to work out or necessarily look forward to working out. I wish I liked it more. Maybe it’s that I’ve gotten in a rut with the approaches I’ve been taking and I want to change that.

So if anyone has any tips to stay motivated, tapes/exercises that would make things fresh again, or just personal stories to share, please do. I could use the additional support and motivation.

And finally… I’m also hoping to get back in to blogging more often.  I know several of you have said that they’ve missed my posts.

Fall is usually my reset or renewal time period, but so far, it’s been more sluggish  than anything else.  I love writing about appreciation and am hoping to find fresh stories and topics to share, not all have inspired me in a way that I’d hope to inspire you. So here too, please send any suggestions my way – I’d be happy to credit you/your blog if you have a post to share, or follow-up on a topic you propose.

2 years… I’m gunning for you.


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Surprise and Delight

I recently worked at national retailer and one of the marketing goals we’d had, was to find ways to surprise and delight our customers.  We were always looking for ways to make the shopping experience better and to go that extra mile to show our appreciation of our customers.  This can be especially impactful when it’s unexpected. (Think of a surprise free gift if you buy something or a discount that you only found out about while shopping.  The customer is surprised by this great opportunity and delighted by opportunity or chance to participate.)

 

This goal came rushing back to me, when I experienced a “Surprise and Delight moment” of my own this week at #TraderJoes.

For those of you who don’t know Trader Joe’s, it’s a national (although not in all states), grocery store.  I think of it as a little bit of a specialty store in that you can buy hard to find items at a good price, e.g., organic coconut oil for $5.99 where it’s usually $7 or more in other stores, and most of your mainstay groceries.  You may not be able to get everything on your list there, but everything you can buy is of great quality.  I’m especially fond of their frozen foods, a Pulled BBQ Brisket, and their outstanding cheese and floral selections. 

I digress… but really I do love this store.

I’d gone to the customer service counter to ask about a cookie product that I wasn’t familiar with and see if any of the managers had tried it.  While asking, I’d mentioned that I wasn’t feeling all that great, and wanted to make some comfort food, especially something sweet.  They raved about the product so I put it in my cart and finished up my shopping.

 

Here’s the good part:
As I’m checking out, the Assistant Manager came over with the bouquet of flowers pictured below.  She said, “We wanted to do something nice to brighten your day.”100_3096

WOW!! I was floored.  My day, aside from the head cold wasn’t terrible, but the store managers wanted to do something nice, just because, they saw me not my chipper self. It was definitely what I’d call a “Surprise and Delight moment.”  It reinforced how much I like shopping at Trader Joe’s and how well I find they appreciate and treat their customers.

 

While I know that not every retailer can or would give out free product to show their customer appreciation, stores could benefit in creating “Surprise and Delight moments” by offering unadvertised promotions, customer appreciation events, or even simply providing above and beyond customer service. (A few of Trader Joe’s customer service perks: Try it before you buy it.  There have been a few times where I’ve been able to try a product before I bought it. (I get a fresh package afterwards.) If you cannot try before you buy, they have a “no questions asked” return policy. If you don’t like it, simply return it. And one more I like… the entry into a $25 gift card raffle for anyone that uses their own bags for their groceries.)

All too often, businesses think solely about the bottom line.  While YES revenue and meeting margin and sales goals are needed to remain in business, it’s nice to see a retailer who understands that on-going patronage and potentially even greater sales can be gained by simply showing their appreciation of their customers .  I know that I tend to shop more often and refer others to stores that outwardly show their appreciation of my patronage, and it is not solely based on whether the store gives me free products or not.

Just something to consider.

 

I was not asked to nor or paid by Trader Joe’s to share this post. Opinions above are my own.