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JENNIFER'S GEMS
by Jennifer Brown Banks

20 Ways to Broaden (and beautify) Your Life's Landscape

Want to attract a quality mate? Expand your circle of friends? Enrich your existence?

It all begins with an open mind and an adventurous spirit!

What I love most about my background is that it embodies a vast array of professional, personal, and educational experiences; musical and literary influences; and friends from every race, religion, and walk of life!

Because I have kept an open mind and a receptive spirit, it has added a diversity and richness to my life, and a respect for other peoples’ differences.

The payoff? Friends who feed my soul, a social calendar that’s rarely empty, and a life I enjoy and celebrate!

Here's How You Can Expand Your Life's Landscape And Develop in Mind, Body, and Spirit:

1. Keep An Open Mind.
A friend of mine was recently sharing how she has been unlucky in getting dates and filling her social calendar. The problem is that she has preconceived stereotypes about certain men, which greatly limits her options. Sometimes we can sabotage our own happiness by making judgments about people without giving them a chance. Don’t do it! Nobody’s suggesting that you lower your standards, or not be selective, but at least remain open, until there’s reason to feel otherwise.

2. Come Out of Your Comfort Zone.
You’ll never reach greater heights if you stay stuck where you are. For instance, I used to carry note cards for teaching all my creative writing classes, because it gave me a certain confidence. The down side to this method is that my presentation sometimes sounded “scripted” and the notes would make me nervous when I would occasionally lose my place while reading. One day my time was limited, so I decided not to write notes and wing it! What I realized is that I’m really a natural at it. Not to mention, it allowed me to be much more interactive and personal with my students. I would never have discovered this had I not tried something different.

3. Maintain Your Health.
It’s hard to be an active participant in life if you don’t feel well, or have physical limitations that prevent engaging in certain activities. Eat wisely, and govern your weight.

4. Listen to the Views of Others.
You don’t have to necessarily embrace their opinions as being correct, or even agree. But listen, you just might learn something!

5. Treat Your Palate to New Pleasures.
Dine at an exotic restaurant, or try your hand at some different recipes.

6. Be Curious About Life.
Ask questions. Take a class at your community college, research on the Web, explore. Never stop learning.

7. Discover a New Passion.
I’m often amazed when people tell me they have no hobbies. Hobbies are a great way to break the monotony and stress from work, and enjoy some “me time”.

Some people go even further and turn hobbies into moneymaking businesses. This year I hope to learn how to play pool!

8. Expand Your Music Library.
We all tend to have preferences for certain musical styles and artists. But your senses will be pleasantly delighted with the introduction of a little diversity! I listen to everything from Beethoven, to Billy Joel, to Kenny G, to Norah Jones, to 50 Cent. It makes for interesting conversation as well.

9. Become Computer Literate.
There’s a whole new world available on the information super highway. Check out the blog craze!

10. Do Volunteer Work.
There’s great truth to the adage “it’s better to give than receive.”

11. Get in Touch with Your "Inner Child".

12. Have a Grateful Heart.

13. Look for the Good in Others.
Don’t let a few negative experiences or bad breaks make you cynical or bitter. You receive what you believe.

14. Champion a Worthy Cause.
Take a stand and make a difference.

15. Become More Financially Savvy.
The better your “bottom line” is, the less stress and the better your life quality.

16. Seek Balance.
It’s good to be goal oriented, but don’t forget to take time to smell the roses. You’ll live longer.

17. Maintain Healthy Relationships.
Don’t be afraid to put an end to those that you have outgrown, or the ones that rob you of your peace.

18. Create a Home Environment that Serves as a Sanctuary.
Make it your retreat from the world.

19. Have a Positive Outlook.
It will feed your spirit.

20. Find Work That You Enjoy.
According to a study on work, the average American changes careers at least 3 times. The good thing about this is whether it takes you 3 times or 30, when you find it, it will add immeasurable joy to your days.
… Like writing does for me!

If you're reading this column today, thank you for being a part of my joy!



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Jennifer's Gems is a weekly column written by award-winning poet and writer, Jennifer Brown Banks. It is published every Wednesday. Click here to read her welcome letter.


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