Happy St. Nicholas Day

banner-largeI LOVE the story of ‘The Real Santa Claus’

Before the stores commercialized Christmas & it became all about the gifts, there was a man who truly did give gifts from the heart and brought Joy and Love to others, his name was Nicholas.

The real Santa lived a long time ago in a place called Asia Minor. It is now the country of Turkey. His name was Nicholas.

Nicholas’ parents died when he was just a teenager. His parents left him a lot of money which made him a rich young man. He went to live with his uncle who was a priest.

Nicholas heard about a man who had lost all his money. He had three daughters who were old enough to get married. But in those days young women had to have money in order to get married. This money was a “dowry” and it was used to help the new family get started. If you didn’t have dowry money, you didn’t get married.

This family was so poor they had nothing left to eat. The daughters were going to be sold as slaves because they couldn’t live at home any longer. They were very sad. They wouldn’t be able to have families of their own. And they would have to be slaves—no longer able to decide where they would live or what they would do.

The night before the oldest daughter was to be sold, she washed her stockings and put them in front of the fire to dry. Then all of them went to sleep—the father and the three daughters.

In the morning the daughter saw a lump in her stocking. Reaching in, she found a small, heavy bag. It had gold inside! Enough to provide food for the family and money for her dowry. Oh, how happy they were!

The next morning, another bag with gold was found. Imagine! Two of the daughters would now be saved. Such joy!

And the next night, the father planned to stay awake to find out who was helping his daughters. He dozed off, but heard a small “clink” as another bag landed in the room. Quickly he jumped up and ran out the door. Who did he catch ducking around the corner?

Nicholas, the young man who lived with his uncle. “Nicholas, it is you! Thank you for helping us—I hardly know what to say!” Nicholas said, “Please, do not thank me—thank God that your prayers have been answered. Do not tell others about me.”

Nicholas continued helping people. He always tried to help secretly. He didn’t want any attention or thanks. Years passed and he was chosen to be a bishop. Bishops look after their people as shepherds look after their sheep. And that is what Nicholas did. When there wasn’t any food, he found wheat; so no one went hungry. He always helped people in trouble. All his life Nicholas showed people how to love God and care for each other.

Everyone loved Nicholas. After he died, they told stories of the good and kind things Nicholas had done. Sailors took these stories about Nicholas everywhere they went. Some of the stories were about his special care for children—helping and protecting them when danger threatened. And so more and more people learned about good, kind Nicholas. They wanted to be like him. He is an example of how we should live. And that is why he became a saint.

This is the story of the real Santa Claus, St. Nicholas. To this day people say that St. Nicholas, or Santa, is the special friend of children.    [taken from StNicholasCenter.org]

I love that he was a man who liked to give, but had no need of attention for his giving. That is how giving should be.

Today, is December 6th and St. Nicholas is celebrated on this day. In celebration each year my small family  writes little love notes to one another on strips of paper and slips them into a special pair of wooden clogs throughout the day of December 6th. Then during dinner we take out the slips of paper and share the love with one another. Its a wonderful, loving, giving tradition.

This year I passed on the tradition to all my siblings in hopes that they will spend today writing kind things about one another and sharing their love around the dinner table.

In all we do, may there be love. Peace to you this day & every day.  -H


Holiday Ads to Inspire

 

A Personal Favorite

Another darling one from John Lewis

Another cute one from John Lewis…”Gifts that everyone will love”

 

GAP has a great holiday motto.  “Share your Gifts”

 

Love this Macey’s ad: What would you do with wishes to make others dreams come true?

Macey’s also put together a magical dance performance on Dancing with the Stars. It is a fun performance to watch. enjoy.

 

The point to these holiday ads…enjoy the holiday season and find ways to “share your gifts” or make other’s feel happy and loved this holiday season. It is the season of giving of yourself, believing in the magic and finding the true reasons for the season. Be a gift to others this holiday season.

Peace and Love -H


Be grateful. Be you.

thanksgiving_thanksful_familyWell, the holidays are upon us and it will be a time of  food, family and friends.

Yesterday we were invited to a neighbor’s home that we did not know very well. They were kind in inviting us over for dinner, but when we arrived, we noticed it was a full family affair. They had invited extended family from all over and us (the only non-family attendees). My 13-year-old daughter looked at me & replied, “this is awkward.”  I immediately jumped in and started mingling (and believe me I am NOT a mingler, but this was an emergency situation). I smiled and began introducing my family as distant relatives that they had not met yet. wink. wink. I smiled & then reassured them that we really weren’t and that we were just crashing their Thanksgiving dinner. We ate, we shared, we learned about others, we helped their kids, and by the end of the night, we felt we were part of the family & genuinely left feeling lifted by conversations, questions, and learning about others and their stories.

My point. NO matter how awkward family functions may be and there will be moments of silence, awkward pictures & a need of some type of connection. Just smile and dig a little deeper to find some part of you that you can give genuinely to those around you. You will then leave full in spirit as well as food. Seek to find the hidden gifts around those you are with this holiday season. Everyone has a story to tell & there may be a lesson hidden in the details that is especially for you. And your simple smile and listening heart will be a gift to them as well.

We are all connected. Sometimes we just need to find the thread that connects us on a deeper level. Enjoy your holidays and the spirit that is present for all who seek it.

Happy holidays! -H


To thine own self be true

Over the years I have taken quite a few personality tests and find them very fun. My cute sister sent me one to take & so I enlisted my family to all take it. So fun!!

It is interesting to me that a test that asks various questions can give such accurate output. I announced to my daughter that my personality only makes up 1% of the population. She beamed and instantly piped up, “You are very unique then!” I smiled. Then I was actually shocked that when my daughter took it (she is 13) she had the exact same personality as me! She then felt very special too.

I think anything that makes you look at yourself and helps you to find your strengths, your weaknesses, your characteristics and personality, is a tool that will help you to better yourself overall.  So, I thought this post would be fun to find some tools that would help you to become true to thine own self. Because when you get to a higher personal level, then you will lift others up to theirs.

620-360-smiling-shy-womanPERSONALITY TEST(S): So, go to 16personalities.com and take the personality test. Over 52 million people already have, so there must be something productive. I thought it was great fun!! Enjoy. Make sure you take the test and then look at the detailed personality type (once you know yours). Have fun!

Strengths Finder is another test that I have taken. http://strengths.gallup.com/110440/About-StrengthsFinder-20.aspx

635957612716911605893600755_ponderingSELF CHECK: Give yourself a ‘self check’ Maybe every once in awhile you need to sit down & ask yourself where you have had success and failure on a personal level. Maybe you have shelved some personal goals that you need to pull out of the closet and work on. Maybe you have been hiding out from your deeper self and avoiding a more purposeful path. Maybe you are not taking care of yourself physically. Here are a few questions in various areas of your life to check in on–Maybe stick with the basics–how are you taking care of yourself (physically)?  [Are you getting enough sleep? Are you exercising, taking vitamins, eating well, drinking enough water, getting outside, etc]   how are you taking care of yourself emotionally? [Are you putting up personal boundaries? Are you sharing feelings? Do you feel heard? How is your self-talk, etc]     how are you doing on a spiritual level? [Are you doing something to feel connected to something greater than yourself?  Have you found a ritual like meditation or yoga to calm your mind? Are you taking time to restore yourself? Are you taking time in nature? Do you have a religious or spiritual practice?]  how are you doing with close relationships? [Are you communicating?  Do you feel any resentments or harsh feelings? Can you share your feelings whether they are good or bad? Do you feel lifted and built up by the relationships you have or do they drain you?  Do you feel connected?]   how are you doing with family? [Are you taking time with your kids? Do you feel like you “know” them to some degree? Do you feel present when you are with them or are you busy on your phone? Do you invest by asking questions, taking time & having special activities you do together? Have you asked them what they need from you? and then truly listen].

learnsomethingneweverydayLEARN SOMETHING NEW: There is no greater way to get to know yourself even better than trying new things and seeing what lights you up!! Even if you just learned something new each day (a few tiny, fun facts) you will feel like you are growing to some degree. Trust me, I have done this. OR you can give yourself a bigger goal of climbing the tallest mountain in your state or maybe you just want to begin with the indoor rock climbing facility down the street. I think when you open yourself up to trying new, different, challenging, out of your comfort zone type of things, there is only one thing you will feel—growth & challenge. You will be able to look at various things and say, “I love that!” or  “I don’t really care for that & I don’t need to try it again.”

636048450500681240-1046652568_yourself-loving-yourself-first-quotes-loving-yourself-first-quotes-03verw-quoteLEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF: This is often a hard one for all of us, but if you don’t take the time to truly try to go within and find the self love you need, you will always be missing something. Can you look in your bathroom mirror and tell yourself, “I love you.”  I did a womens retreat & had small groups of women pass around a mirror and try to say that to themselves. It was overwhelming to see how many women broke down in tears ashamed they could not look in the mirror and say that to themselves. It broke my heart. I think we all have varying levels of self love and sometimes we just need to take baby steps to a higher awareness of the love we have and need within. Begin by finding something you DO love about yourself. Focus on that. Maybe begin to take a fun picture of the style you are wearing or your amazing pedicure. Maybe you love your smile or the way you make others feel. Little steps will help you focus on the little things you like & that will lead to the bigger things that will fill you up with more self love.

e08121407a7375a791e3da09e7170598ENJOY THE JOURNEY: Here is a great article I came across that has some good personal questions and fun analogies about finding purpose. http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/how-find-your-lifes-purpose-and-make-yourself-better-person.html

Best wishes in your quest to be true to thine own self. Have a beautiful day. -H

 

 


Fairytale Truths

offterdinger_schneewitchen_2We are all ah struck by the childhood fairytales we are told as children. It is the beginning of tales of good vs evil, the wicked step-mother, the beautiful princess, the love story that always ends happily.

The other day I was watching a show & they mentioned how the story of Snow White truly came to be. We all thought it was the whimsical tale of the Grimm Brothers, BUT historians have found evidence there seems to have been real characters–a beautiful princess, a castle, evil step-mother and seven dwarfs.  What? you say! My sentiments exactly, so I thought I would put together some real life fairytale stories for your enjoyment. The first of course…Snow White.

09-21-14-16wMaria Sophia Margaretha Catharina von Erthal, to be known as Maria from here on out. Born in 1729, Maria grew up in a castle in Lohr, Germany. The castle is a museum today, and if you visit, you’ll be able to look into a certain famous mirror. It’s believed that Maria’s father, Prince Philipp Christoph von Erthal, gave the looking glass to his second wife as a gift. Sounding a little familiar? Maria’s outlook under her stepmother wasn’t quite so bleak – there was no huntsman seeking internal organs for proof of Maria’s death – but scholars think it wasn’t an easy existence. “Presumably the hard reality of life for Maria Sophia under this woman was recast as a fairy story by the Brothers Grimm,” Dr. Karlheinz Bartels, a Snow White scholar, has said. Oh, and Maria’s story boasts “dwarves” in a fashion similar to Margarethe’s: it’s said that only smaller-statured men were able to fit in the nearby mine tunnels of Bieber. -Mental Floss.com

170px-spiegleinOne additional, interesting note…the mirror that was gifted to the step-mother said, Amour Propre or “Self-Love” The mirror was likely a gift from Philipp Christoph to Claudia Elisabeth. It was a product of the Lohr Mirror Manufacture (Kurmainzische Spiegelmanufaktur). The mirror “talked” predominantly in aphorisms. The upper right corner of “The Talking Mirror” contains a clear reference to self-love (Amour Propre). Moreover, mirrors from Lohr were so elaborately worked that they were accorded the reputation of “always speaking the truth”. They became a favorite gift at European crown and aristocratic courts.[4] -Wikpedia

 

rapunzel-pdRapunzel

Rapunzel draws upon an early Christian story. In the third century A.D. a prosperous pagan merchant, living in Asia Minor, so adored his beautiful daughter he forbade her to have suitors. Accordingly he locked her in a tower when he traveled. -huff

 

tumblr_mw48o5l7zj1s6t5fio6_400Princess Grace Kelly

She seemed to have it all, her dreams of acting came true and she was at the highest point of her career & the highest paid & most respected actress. Then a Prince came along and swept her off her feet. The dated and their courtship was depicted as a fairytale romance. They married after a year. She saw a deeper calling for her life and gave up all the glam and fame to become the Princess of Monaco. And with any fairytale there is tragedy…in 1982, Princess Grace and her young daughter were in a car accident. Princess Grace was in a coma for 24 hours before passing away.

 

sleeping-beauty-lTrue True Loves Kiss

But perhaps true love’s kiss really can do the trick. In 2009, a woman in England suffered a heart attack and fell into a coma. She began to stir two weeks later only when her husband pleaded her for a kiss— she apparently obliged by turning her head and puckering up, according to the Daily Mail. -Live Science

Well, I hope that was a fun read into the real stories of our beloved fairytales.

Have a beautiful day. -H


Tricks or Treats

With Halloween quickly approaching I thought it would be fun to put together some ideas to celebrate the many spirits of Halloween. Pick and choose what fits your personality. Enjoy!!

Are you more of a TRICK or TREAT person?

My husband I believe would be both!! He loves a great trick on someone & he loves the treats. I have to share a funny trick he played recently–He was camping out in high mountain country and before the camping trick we talked about pulling a great trick on the brother-in-laws that would be going on this trip. My husband and I talked and planned a very good (some would say MEAN) trick & it went really well. My husband took a small, portable speaker that had a remote that was controlled by his phone. On his phone he put an app that had a “Bear sound.” In the middle of the night, when everyone was in bed, my husband hit the button & the bear sound began. It sounded like a bear was snorting and moving in the woods behind them. First, our brother-in-law, Dan heard the sound & yelled, “Did you guys hear that?” One of our other brothers, Bud was quietly listening to his earphones & only heard Dan yell. Bud began to move around & listen for any noise. Then my husband hit the button again. He could not help lying in his tent laughing quietly to himself. Dan immediately yelled, “Did you hear that? We have something in the bushes.” Dan quickly moved to his tent for his bear spray. By this time my brother, Bud was lacing up his running shoes as fast as he could. My husband stepped out of his tent, waiting to see what was going to happen. My husband climbs out of his tent to find Dan reading the can of bear spray with his headlamp & Bud getting dressed as quickly as possible. My husband grinned to himself & hit the button again. Dan began looking with his light for any movement in the bushes, aiming his bear spray & ready for anything. Dan looked at my husband and Bud, “Do you see anything?” he asked. My husband calmly replied, “I see a speaker!!” Dan said, “What?” My husband busted out laughing & pointing at the speaker. They were all ready to kill him. An hour later, Dan yelled from his tent, “Well played!” My husband just laughed and laughed.

Another fun prank that is a classic is one of the kids favorite!! Down from our house is a guy that changes up his costume each year, but once you visit his house, he will chase you down the street. Gets the kids every time.

Another scary one that the kids continue to talk about was a kid dressed up in a black cloak (the kind that has a hood & long enough to touch the ground). This kid was walking through the forest near our home & scaring everyone in sight. It was probably even scarier because it was NOT Halloween. The kids in the family all still talk about “the creepy guy in the forest.”

A few other fun ideas: when you go to give your kids a Halloween goodnight kiss–throw in a pair of glow-in-the-dark fangs. Write something spooky with liquid dish soap on your kids bathroom mirror, so when they steam up the bathroom, the message will appear. Put red kool-aid in the shower head, so then the water comes out red.

 

Now for all you TREAT people out there–here are some yummy ideas you could create for Halloween.

pumpkin-punchPUMPKIN PUNCH BOWL: All you need to make a memorable party punchbowl is dry ice, a very large pumpkin and two large bowls that nest inside one another and are safe to handle dry ice. Hollow out the pumpkin, ensuring the opening is wide enough to hold the bowls. Place the larger of your two bowls in the pumpkin and use tongs to layer the bottom of the bowl with dry ice. Place the second bowl on top of the dry ice and fill the bowl with your punch. Carefully pour hot water into the bottom bowl to activate the dry ice vapors. Replenish the dry ice as needed throughout your party.

You can also do this same idea with a large witches cauldron.

11-21-3

You can also use a pumpkin for a fun ice bucket idea.

MJS halloween26-cooler.jpg

halloween26 – Place glow sticks in the bottom of an ice bucket or cooler at your Halloween party. Photo credit: Alison Sherwood asherwood@journalsentinel.com

GLOWING BEVERAGES: As the stream of trick-or-treaters slows, invite your neighbors over for a drink. Toss a glow stick or two in with the ice in your cooler so they’ll open up to an eerie gleam.

64-non-candy-halloween-snack-ideas-the-ultimate-list-of-healthier-halloween-treatsYUMMY DEVIL SPIDER EGGS : The usual with chopped olives for decor

halloween-treat-broom-sticksSWEET LITTLE BROOM: Recess peanut butter cups stuck in pretzel

817461fb0e4340ea9aeb0a9b8522a14bHEALTHY LITTLE RELISH TRAY with a cute pumpkin center piece full of dressing

Well, I hope these ideas get you started in planning a spooktacular Halloween!


Lessons learned from the movie A Thousand Words

Lessons learned from Eddie Murphy in the movie, A Thousand Words. Here are some quotes and lessons I took away from this film. Enjoy.

a-thousand-words-image03

I am sure everyone can learn a few lessons from this movie–plot summary: Jack McCall is a fast-talking literary agent who can close any deal, any time, any way. He has set his sights on New Age guru Dr. Sinja for his own selfish purposes. But Dr. Sinja is on to him, and Jack’s life comes unglued after a magical Bodhi tree mysteriously appears in his backyard. With every word Jack speaks, a leaf falls from the tree and he realizes that when the last leaf falls, both he and the tree are toast. Words have never failed Jack McCall, but now he’s got to stop talking and conjure up some outrageous ways to communicate or he’s a goner.

 

a-thousand-wordsWords are just like leaves that blow off a tree. How do you SHOW your love? This lesson speaks volumes. People can talk and talk, spewing words that have no meaning or no true nature. People can easily trick or manipulate others, but when one has to go deeper than just words there is real feeling & truth.

 

4878169-a-thousand-words-movieThere are three things that cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon and the truth. (Buddha)          There are always the things that cannot be changed in life. Truly the truth will always be a standard for letting go & finally being free.

Butterflies always seem to be a symbol of higher awareness. 

 

kerri-washington-and-eddie-murphy-in-a-thousand-words“Make peace, show them that you love them, and be truthful.” -Dr Sinja        Just LOVE

 

a-thousand-words-b6Sometimes you just need to SHUT UP!! Jack had a friend that had to finally knock him out, tape his mouth shut to truly help save himself.      I think we can all relate to this one. Sometimes it is better to shut up, hold your tongue and just listen. In order to truly understand someone else’s needs, we may need to shut up and hear them.

 

eddie-murphy-and-cliff-curtis-in-a-thousand-wordsWhat you send out into the world often comes back to you. There is a point in the movie where Jack decides he is going to remove them problem (the tree) & just chop it down. But, what happens is he ends up physically hurting himself in the process.     Life is like that. We often lash out at others or handle things poorly & it comes back to make things worse within our lives.

 

a-thousand-words-image01“You. Me. We. Eternity.” -Jack  Life is not worth living without family. Family is the greatest gift we are given. It is what we do with that gift that will matter most.

 

5004131-a-thousand-words-movie“I guess you never know if the last time you see someone is going to be the last time you ever see someone.” -Jack   Hold the present moment with those you are with. Life has a way of making you take for granted the time you seem to have. Each moment is a gift you are given, so be present with those you surround yourself. You never know when it will be your last.

[Jack standing in front of his fathers grave] “I forgive you.” Dig deep and let go of the anger, the emotions that hold you back from your best life. Forgive.

 

a_thousant_words_04“Sorry. It’s quite amazing, how many thoughtless words one can speak? Don’t you think?” -Dr Sinja      We are told we speak between 60-80,ooo words a day. It is amazing the conversations we have with others and ourselves. What are we truly saying? What are we saying to ourselves? Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. We are saying something in everything we do. What do you put out into the world?

 

who-says-words-will-never-hurt-you-f2143f5i-x-large“You need to find the truth about yourself. It’s quite simple Jack. You need to get quiet, not just with your mouth, with your mind. And in that quiet you will hear the truth. Do you have any other unresolved relationships in your life?” -Dr. Sinja          Do you spend any time getting quiet? That is a great life lesson you can begin at any time. Just make the time to go within, stop your words and listen. Find peace within yourself.

 

a_thousant_words_01Dr. Sinja: “You only have a thousand words left…and then…”
Jack: “I could die?!?”
Yep, Jack: You could definitely die if you use up your precious 1000 words. Time to get serious about what you say — and how you say it.        

 Take a moment and think about what you would want to say if you only had a thousand words left to say. What would you say & what would you do? Interesting idea, right?

Peace to you.  -H