Easter around the world?


My husband was gifted a trip from his previous employer to Cordoba, Argentina this week. I am anxious to hear his stories, his experiences and the details behind the town shutting down for 5 days from today–Good Friday. Argentina is predominantly Catholic and the new Pope happens to be from Argentina, so I am sure he will learn a few things while he is there visiting during Easter. With Easter this weekend my curiosity of other religious cultures has peeked my interest. 

I thought you may be a little interested too, so I am going to share what I can learn and we will all be a little more enlightened.

Here are some traditions from around the world according to an article by the Huffington Post

In Bermuda they celebrate Good Friday by flying home-made kites, eat codfish cakes and hot cross buns.

My suggestions from the inspiration of Bermuda: Maybe for your Easter week you could make a special bread that is braided to symbolize connection & bringing family together, or a bread shaped like a cross or dove. I also love the idea of getting Kites and it being a symbol of waving hello to God. Another fun idea would be to have your family write messages of thanks on the kite to send to the heavens.

In Norway they have an interesting tradition for the season known for “Easter Crime” or Paaskekrim. At this time of year, many around the country read mystery books or watch televised crime detective series.  Many families escape to the mountains for the vacation week beginning the Friday before Palm Sunday and ending the Tuesday after Easter Monday. 

My suggestions from the inspiration of Norway: You could have each family member bring a favorite hymn or quote relating to Easter to share with the family. 

In Northwestern parts of Europe they have large bonfires, called Easter Fires, and are lit on Sunday and Monday. While there are various explanations for the origin of the Easter Fires, the most common Saxon tale is that Easter is a time when spring becomes victorious over winter and the fires were to chase the darkness of winter away. Today, however, the meaning of the fires is to bring communities together. They also share Easter baskets or make easter bonnets.

My suggestions from the inspiration of Europe: I love this idea, to gather family around and build a big bonfire after a beautiful Easter meal. I think it would also be fun to have everyone create their own Easter bonnet to wear to a family easter egg hunt. 

In Sweden, Easter is celebrated with meals of eggs, herring and Jansson’s temptation (potato, onion, pickled sardines baked in cream). The most interesting tradition to come out of Sweden is that in the days leading up to Easter Sunday, children dress up as Easter witches, wearing old and discarded clothes. Traveling from home to home in their neighborhoods, the children trade paintings and drawings for sweets.

My suggestions from the inspiration of Sweden: I liked the idea of having children trade their drawings and paintings for sweets. I am having a big egg hunt with my nieces and nephews and I think I am going to invite them all to bring a piece of artwork to share with everyone before the festivities begin. 

In Haiti, the Holy Week is marked with colorful parades and traditional “sara” music played on bamboo trumpets, maracas, drums and coffee cans. It is usually a mixture of Catholic and Voodoo traditions. 

My suggestions from the inspiration of Haiti: You could have children make their own hand-made drum out of a coffee can. They could get very creative & then drum together. Or you could have a family parade of everyone dressed in their Sunday best, dancing and posing for one another.

Some more interesting ideas:

In Poland and Russia they are known for their “Butter Lambs”–butter is sculpted into the shape of a lamb, which accompanies a meal.

In Australia they are beginning to make a chocolate Bilby (in stead of Bunny) to help raise the awareness about the dwindling Bilby population.

In other parts of Europe fountains may be adorned with flowers, ribbons and eggs.

The bell’s in France’s churches are silenced on Good Friday to recognize the death of Jesus. But legend says that the bells actually fly to Rome and fly back in time to be rung on Easter Sunday. There are many paintings that attest to this tradition.

In England they still have egg rolling contests. People compete by rolling eggs down large hills and the ones that roll the furthest or survive the most competitions win.

In Mexico there are passion plays and processions of which the most important is called the Via Crucis (which is Jesus sent to be crucified). You will not find easter bunnies or chocolate eggs here on Sunday.

In Ireland you will find dance–like the cake dance, the Dawn Dance–long ago the people of Ireland believed that when the sun rises on Easter morning, it dances with joy that the Savior has risen. Families would get up before dawn and make their way to the top of a hill and wait for the sun & then do a jig.

Well, I hope this world tour of Easter events was fun, fascinating & filled you with fun ideas to create for your own Easter week. 

Feliz Pascua (Happy Easter in Spanish)   Joyeuses Pâques (Happy Easter in French)

Vrolijk paasfeest (Happy Easter in Dutch)   Selamat Paskah (Happy Easter in Indonesian)  Bonn fet pak (Happy Easter in Haitian Creole)   Buona Pasqua (Happy Easter in Italian)

God paske (Happy Easter in Norwegian)    just a little taste from other cultures!!

HAPPY EASTER wherever you are. PEACE and LOVE to you.   -Heather


An Easter Aha!

ImageI was reading my young daughter a story of how the Easter bunny arrived into the folklore and magic of this holiday season. It was an idea that bloomed from the forest floor, Spring had arrived, but the children did not notice, so the animals of the forest decided there needed to be someone who would bring a little spring surprise to the children to let them know that Spring had come once again. Here is the link to the story if you would like to read it: http://www.fairystory.org/classic-western-fairy-tales/the-easter-rabbit.html

This reminded me of how everything yearns to be praised and appreciated. The forest wanted to see and feel the delight of the children dancing around the forest floor, smelling the flowers, enjoying the lush, green grass and the new birth that was in abundance. 

It is the little things we seek to be praised and appreciated for. I heard a powerful thought on a podcast recently with Sara Ban Breathnach, she was talking about how if we are created in God’s image, then He too yearns for praise and appreciation, (this was an aha for me) for us to notice the little gifts he grants us daily. He wants us to find wonder and possibility in every single day. To have gratitude for all that is given. 

This Easter I want you to ask yourself and your family—What can we do this Easter to bring our family together to celebrate and rejoice in His name, to remember the truth of the season, to be grateful for the colors, for the spring blooms that are beginning to pop out of the earth, to look up into the beautiful sky and see the hues, the warm sun, the colors that are echoed in the details of Easter. There are so many little details that Easter brings, tiny designs etched in lace, the chocolate bunnies that take us back to our childhood, the textures of grass gently tucked into a sacred basket, small eggs in a multitude of colors to remind us of the new birth of spring, a new day. 

A Easter Bunny may not seem appropriate for such a special holiday, but if we can see the symbol in a new light, a beloved creature that gathers details of a new day, a blessed day that is a gift from a God that loves us, as a reminder of His love, then we can embrace this cotton-tailed friend and see it in a new perspective…of Love, Wonder, Delight and a special offering to remind us of Him. We can then take this special reminder and give thanks and praise in all we do. 

So here are some additional ideas to gather your family together and make this Easter even more special…

Resurrection Eggs: Last Easter we did the story of Benjamin’s Box and had a hunt for resurrection eggs. It was a very special story tied into the special eggs. My family loved it! You can either make the eggs yourself (scripture quotes with small symbolic things held within a plastic egg–there are a variety of versions. Just google “Resurrection Eggs” & find one that suits your family) or there are also pre-done eggs you can buy (Amazon has a set by FamilyLife Publishing for $12.99)

Legend of the Sand Dollar: This year I am going to read The Legend of the Sand Dollar since we found many sand dollars along the coast this past summer.  I have not read the story, but I will let you know how it is once I receive it. It is an Inspirational Story of Hope for Easter. Bought it on Amazon along with a basket of sand dollars that I am going to give to my nieces and nephews after sharing the story. 

Easter Lily: gather your family around and explain the meaning behind the Easter Lily. There are many stories associated with the Easter Lily: One says the shape of the Easter Lily looks like a trumpet shape and is a symbol of God the Father calling his Son Jesus home. Another story said these Lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s agony. It is said that the lilies sprung up where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow. 

One personal interesting fact—this summer on our trip along the Oregon Coast down to the Redwoods we came across fields where the largest producers of Easter Lilies were grown. It was amazing, miles and miles of fields that then reached up into the forests of the mighty Redwood trees, filled with towering Cathedrals, protective boughs, breath taking silence and then you came out of the forest into a town that was dark, felt ugly and held one of California’s prisons. It was like polar opposites—Beauty, Light, Peace, Cathedral trees into a dark, ugly land.  Interesting.

Have a special meal: If you have a family tradition, then enjoy it. BUT, don’t be afraid to go out. Last year we were not home for Easter, so we enjoyed a beautiful brunch at a local restaurant. At first I couldn’t believe what we were doing, but I was happily surprised to see families together, some dressed up in their Easter best, enjoying their time together. We enjoyed every minute and every yummy, little detail.  The best detail—being together.

Spend part of the day in service: Serve Easter dinner at a homeless shelter, make cookies and share them with an elderly home, make fun, decorated, edible eggs and hand them out to the homeless, give an Easter Lily to someone who is elderly or in a home because of the symbolic hope and life it brings, maybe you can take someone who is alone a special Easter meal, have your child make a special Easter gift to give to her teachers at church & school. Make handmade Easter cards and send them to friends and family. 

Resurrection Cookies: I came across this recipe idea, so I thought I would add the idea for anyone interested in making them with your kids or making them and giving them as a special gift to someone.  Here is the link: http://www.motherhoodonadime.com/kids/resurrection-cookies-printable-recipe/

Make a Easter gratitude tree: I usually do this around Thanksgiving, but Easter would work too. Make or purchase a wire tree that you can hang the small, colorful wood eggs on. Have each member of your family pick a few of their favorite colors & with a small sharpie write something they are grateful for—a beautiful gift they can praise and appreciate for Easter. Gather everyone around and have them share each one before putting them on the tree.

Dress it up & remember: Usually Easter involves new spring dresses and new ties, so make sure you take a special moment with your family, find a beautiful spot in your home or yard and take a picture to remember the moment.  Then give every member of your family a piece of cardboard & have them write down 3-5 things that either symbolize them at this point in their life, a personal motto or quote or things they are grateful for. Have them write them down, decorate the cardboard & take single pictures of each person. You will see them & what was important to them at this point in their life. It will be a fun memory to cherish.

“For I remember it is Easter morn, and life and love and peace are all new born.”            -Alice Freeman Palmer

I hope you enjoyed these ideas. I hope they get you thinking of things you could do to make this Easter memorable. Have a beautiful weekend with your families.  -Heather

Let go of the FEAR


Fear can keep us up all night long, but faith makes one fine pillow.                                  -Phillip Gulley

My little girl woke up in the middle of the night frustrated, tired and immobile in her determination to not listen to any type of reason, to understand her feelings, or to talk about what was truly going on in her young mind. She has always been a wild thing, free in her choices, stubborn in her will and determined in all that she is. I wouldn’t change her because there is so much I admire–I love her spark, her sass, her leader mentality, but there are times when you hit it square on and you are the opposing side and you find yourself unable to talk her off a high point. That is where you find yourself dealing with fears and worry head on! I desperately try to put myself in her shoes to try and understand what she is thinking, why she breaks into emotional tears or why she holds on to a negative situation with an unyielding spirit. It scares me sometimes, but then I try to find the love, to break through the anger with a hug that can almost break the spell. She may fight back, but then you hold that love like a wounded bird that is trying to break free. You know if you hold on long enough, it will realize you are trying to do your best to take care of its needs. She will then emotionally break, her will allows the fears and worry to be free & she gives in to the love that is given.

My daughter has had a lot of anxiety, fear and worry weighing on her little mind lately. She is afraid of the possibility of moving, her best friend just moved away, her beloved teacher is leaving for the rest of the year, the homework she doesn’t understand…her fears may seem small, but to her they are as big as anything we can fathom. Lately I have been trying to read and understand what, if anything, I can do to make her journey a little easier, to ease her anxiety and worry, to set aside the fear and bring peace to her in any way. Last night was no exception. She was worn down, tired, but in a negative place, constantly saying no to any loving suggestion to help her return to sleep. I finally had her jump our my bed & told her we needed to let her worries float away. I suggested we watch a darling youtube video that did just that.  Me, my husband and our little girl laid in bed and watched SOULPANCAKE: Pop your Problems http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcHXiBdyt94  it was a darling example of letting your worries go. We all felt better when it was over. Thanks SoulPancake!!

Here are some other ideas for letting go of worries:

Understand your amazing brain: Watch Jill Bolte Taylor (Harvard expert on the brain experiences a stroke & what she learned from it–amazing). I listened to her talk to Oprah about the part of our brain that is in charge of language, self talk, all ego—she described a peanut size part of the brain is what causes negative chatter & how we need to remember that you can change your thought in a second. You cannot have a negative and a positive thought at the same time, so switch it!! WOW. Aha.

Let it go: Pop it! (like SoulPancake) or set it ablaze. Write down your worries, fears or frustrations, make a fire in your backyard fire pit or picnic area and throw your worries into the fire and allow the smoke to take them away.

Talk about it: Talking about concerns helps take some of the power out of the negative feelings. If you talk about your worries, fears and anxieties it can become less powerful.

Write it down: Write your feelings of worry and fear down in a journal. Get your thoughts out onto paper to help you sort out your feelings, so you can begin to understand.

Walk your talk: In some situations you may need to walk yourself through a fear or worry. You may need to replay over and over in your mind, “I can do this” or “I will be okay.”

Walk or run it out: Exercise is always a good solution to help rid any type of stress, including worry and anxiety. Take a walk, go for a run, get some type of movement that will increase your feel good endorphins and give you a natural boost.

Relax: different relaxation techniques like visualization  help in any situation. A good visualization: Imagine yourself floating along a still lake with your arms spread out, floating on the water and you look up to the blue sky—let go of every worry. Focus on the float. Quiet your mind in some type of relaxation, whether its visualization, meditation or prayer.

Breathe deeply: When you are in the midst of stress, anxiety, fear or worry your body tenses and we often hold our breath or begin to breathe faster. Take a deep breathe. Begin to slow your breath and allow the worries to fade as you breathe out…letting go.

The reality: understand that most of your fears are just a product that your thoughts create. (thoughts that are generated from that peanut size part of your brain). Decide and make a conscious choice—what thoughts will I follow and believe are real. Where is your focus? Is it real or fear based.

Face it: What could you do today to face a fear or conquer a worry that you hold on to? I came across a fun site of someone who was facing a fear every day for a month. Each day they would do something that scared or challenged them on a personal level. What did they learn??  as soon as you go ahead and face a fear–it vanishes. Fear just cannot stand in the light of your confidence and go beyond it. It gets scared. (personal-development-is-fun.com) I thought that was a great reality.

Remember the good: Stress and worry are not all bad. There are times when they push us to make necessary changes in our life. This is when stress and anxiety are healthy and beneficial. Remember—there is always something good held in everything we do. There is always something to help us learn and grow. Have faith in that!

Hope these tips will help.

Have a beautiful weekend.  -Heather

The Quest for CONFIDENCE!


To me CONFIDENCE is like a tiny kitten, when it is feeling good it can be fierce with personal belief, and unstoppable in determination. But if it gets scared, it may want to run away or hide, so it needs to be lovingly nurtured and comforted, and told that things will be okay. We all have moments of vulnerability, moments where our confidence is shaken and we stand alone and want to run away from different situations.

In moments of reflection it is the little things like confidence that catch your attention and you wonder how to tame it and hold on to it a little longer, so it doesn’t disappear for awhile.

Confidence has been a topic at our house lately. Between my husband questioning why people have not called him regarding job positions, or wondering why my daughter is afraid to talk to her teacher (she has been in her class for over a month & still doesn’t know her name), or why I can’t focus on anything, we are a household in a quest for confidence, so when the Oprah magazine arrived at our house with the word CONFIDENCE in big, bold letters, I grabbed it & began to read. There were some great tips and tricks, so I am going to share some ideas and expand on some others.

Here are a few of my favorite ideas from Oprah’s “The Confidence Kit”…

Sit up straight: Research suggests that people with good posture have more confidence in their thoughts than people who slouch.

Knock wood: Psychologists have shown that embracing superstitions and carrying good luck charms can help you perform tasks better.

Break a sweat: Science long ago proved that exercise enhances your mood, but did you know that a 20-minute workout can sharpen your state of mind for a whopping 12 hours.

Focus on your breathing: Those who regularly practice Buddhist mindfulness meditation report increased self-acceptance.

Strike a pose: Standing for two minutes in a “power pose”–think wonder woman, with her feet flat on the ground, shoulders square, and hands on hips–can help you feel 40 percent more powerful than sitting with your arms crossed.

Grab a cup of joe: One more reason to love your latte: 100 milligrams of caffeine has been shown to increase alertness, energy and confidence.

Here are some additional tips and tricks to help you on your QUEST for CONFIDENCE…

Look at your LIFE SUCCESSES: What have you been able to achieve, the big things, the little things, the things you may not consider a success (your happy attitude, your willingness to help others, the good sister you are, etc)–count them. What do you celebrate about what you have done with your life (motherhood, fatherhood, volunteering, teaching, medical school, started a campaign for a good cause, made others feel appreciated, beat a personal fear, built a car engine, wrote a blog post, published an article, learned how to cook, home schooled your kids, are an artist, a gifted musician, can tell amazing stories, love animals, etc)

Evaluate your strengths & weaknesses: What do you view as a personal strength and weakness. This is a good starting point in addressing your personal needs and what you can begin to work on. Ask your friends and family what they see as your strengths and weaknesses. Write them down.

Ask yourself, What do I want? right now, in life, my career, my family. Creating goals helps you on a personal level see and achieve what you want to create for your life. When you are able to see small goals and achieve them…personal success, which increases your confidence.

What is stopping you? Your thoughts, money, social confidence, the right exercise routine, time, etc. Ask yourself, “What is the worst thing that can happen?” Begin to use affirmations to eliminate the self defeating mind chatter and rid you of old beliefs and patterns that may be in your way.

Stop the negative self-talk: Confidence is a funny thing, it seemingly comes and goes depending on the day & the self-talk. Yesterday my husband was waiting for a phone call for a potential interview, he was told they would call him the next morning (yesterday), but by noon they had not called. His mind was a furry of concern, worry and wonder if they would call. He went on about how he should have been more assertive and scheduled a time then and there. I stopped him mid-sentence, “Do I hear a ‘shoulda’ ‘coulda’ woulda’? Are you living in the land of should, woulda, coulda? Well, I am not going there with you.” I smiled and kissed him gently. He laughed at me. It broke the pattern of worry, concern & negative chatter. I went on to explain to him that if they did not take the time to find a valuable asset like him, then they don’t deserve him. I told him if they are smart, they will call. We left it at that.

What little step can I take? Create a baby step outline of where you are and where you want to be relating to your goal. Example: If you desire a new job–what skills do you need to begin working on, maybe you need to buy the right suit for an interview, practice talking about the new position, begin to see yourself working for a specific company, doing the job you desire.

What is the worst thing that can happen? ask yourself what you are afraid is going to happen.

Now list if they are REAL fears—can or will they likely happen? 90% of our fears are not true fears. Don’t buy in to the negative thoughts.

Ask yourself again—What is stopping me? (write these reasons down and address them) If you have doubts that continue to rise to the surface, write them down and calmly challenge them.

ACT. Take action. Commit to your personal success. Make a promise to yourself that you are committed to this personal journey…wherever it may take you.

When it comes down to it–you need to begin to give yourself a little credit, be kind to yourself and begin to love who you are!! Your self-confidence and self-esteem stems from how you feel about yourself, how you challenge yourself and how you handle the situations that life hands you.

One last thing…Dawn Breslin is one of my favorite authors and is a coach on confidence, so I wanted to share a little something from her book, Zest for Life…enjoy!

The secret recipe to enjoying life is to have simple little pleasures sprinkled throughout your day. To boost our self-esteem and in turn our self-confidence first of all we need to become aware of the internal dialogue that plays in our minds. It’s a bit like a tape recorder that plays over and over, and if what the tape is playing is negative and critical of you and your life, you aren’t going to feel good each day.

The expectations of society, our parents, our partners, and our peer groups–not to mention ourselves–dictate that we should have more money, more possessions, a bigger house, a bigger car, a better education, a better job, a better partner…Constantly living by these core values, focusing on getting more, and thinking about all the things we don’t have in our lives blocks us from seeing the natural beauty and joy that surrounds us every single day. If this is the belief we are living by, then there are going to be some serious side effects on the journey to succeed. In Eastern wisdom, the foundations for achievement are almost the opposite: Success is about being happy, connected to spirit, fulfilled, calm, energized and content.

Here are a few habits Dawn suggests to improve your confidence: Read personal development books, Pray, Write down ten reasons to be grateful each day, Read inspirational biographies, take up a creative hobby, begin to play a musical instrument, watch the Discovery Channel, watch inspirational movies, read health and fitness magazines, share good news stories, limit your intake of bad news each day and only speak positively about people.

Hope these ideas send you in a good direction for your personal quest for confidence. Good luck and best wishes in all you do.  -Heather

Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something and that this thing must be attained.”  -Marie Curie

10 Lessons learned from Children

Image“There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child.

There are seven million.”  -Walt Streightiff

There is an innocence in childhood, a sincere belief that life holds magic, wonder, and beauty to behold. We can learn some things from the children within our life…they hold gifts that can only be shared.

Spending time around children seems to open your eyes to infinite possibilities ..they want to believe in something greater, so they believe in fairies and super heroes. They cherish the littlest things like glass animals and tea sets.  They find happiness held in the magic of an acorn top & fill it with water for the birds or fairies to drink from.  They find friendship in the comfort of a smile, a special handshake or a “pinky promise.”

What can we learn from the children in our lives…here are a few ideas.

BELIEVE IN THE MAGIC OF SOMETHING GREATER: My daughter finds pure delight in anything magical—leprechauns, the easter bunny, St. Nick…and most of all the belief in fairies. Yesterday she received a small, 3.5 inch resin, baby fairy named “Nolana.”  She instantly wanted to find the magic in everything this little fairy did. She found a old, tiny, china tea set that she placed crumbs of food on for the little fairy. She wrapped the little fairy in a tiny, silk blanket, she nurtured and loved this little fairy like it was real. She wants to believe, her heart yearns to believe in magic that is unseen, something greater.

ENJOY EVERY MOMENT: Children seem to enjoy every moment as they swing high on a rope swing, dance constantly on an endless reserve of energy or find pure joy in a giant stuffed marshmallow that is burned to a crisp.

JUST LAUGH: Children laugh 600 times a day compared to an adult who only laughs about 47 times a day. Kids laugh at silly television shows, funny words and jokes, making crazy faces, so do what children do & create some laughter in your life.

AFFECTION: Everyone needs affection, whether its hugs or kisses, share it!! At our house if someone is in need of a little love we sign a special X and O (with our fingers) & we instantly know their love tank needs a little filling.

SAY IT: Everyone needs to hear how much you LOVE them. Little children are great at saying “I Love you.” Make sure you are sharing your thoughts and feelings all the time.

DONT RUN ON EMPTY: On that rare occasion a child may come up empty and finally ready to stop, so they take a nap. Adults seem to go and go and go, with no thought of stopping and taking that needed break. When you begin to run on empty, remember to slow down and take a nap. Don’t look at it like you have too much to do & don’t have time for a nap, instead look at it as a recharge for your day.

DONT BE NEEDY: Children truly don’t need much to be happy. My daughter the other day looked at me and said “best day ever!” I was kind of surprised. I replied with a smile, “Why?” “because we have had time to be together. Just us.”  Children seem to be content with little things like quality time, their big purchases are their favorite ice cream, and they don’t seem to care if their socks are clean or not. (Currently working on this one at our house–smile). Life can be enjoyed on a lot less. Lesson–Enjoy the little things, appreciate those around you.

BE FEARLESS: Children are experts at this. They don’t seem afraid to go head first down a water slide, jump out of a tree onto a trampoline, ride their bike with no hands, have mud fights, sell lemonade on a street corner, talk to strangers or say what they think. As an adult you may need to risk falling, to try something new, to find a way to speak your truth, etc.

CREATE: Children are amazing creators. They color, draw, doodle, write, imagine, collect, treasure – everything!! My daughter finds happiness in a new box of markers, she instantly begins to whirl the colors, to fill in mandalas with great detail and create works of art that no one can duplicate. Children have this natural sense of creating–they do it in everything they do, from chalk drawing on the side walk to the cursive letters in their name. Children are a great example of the creative mind in action. What can you do to be creative today??

WONDER: As we grow we seem to lose our sense of wonder. Children are curious about everything. They are constantly asking questions and looking for answers. As adults we need to get curious and wonder about life, about purpose, about things we wonder about. Take some time to walk in the grass and think about things that matter most to you. Sit under a tree and notice the details around you. WONDER is the first part of making your world truly WONDERFUL.

I hope this post helps you see the gifts your children give.

Have a beautiful day  -Heather

LOL. 12 ways to get you LAUGHING!


Something to think about…A child laughs 600 times a day at the age of 6. An adult 47 times a day. A depressed person 6 times a day.

One thing I have noticed in any stressful situation is how laughter can take a moment of tension and make it melt away. It has this amazing power to change things, to ignite the body with something positive, to shift a connection with others and lighten a mood. You can’t feel stressed, anxious, angry or sad when you are laughing.

When there is ever a tense time in my marriage we notice it, we swing from one end of the spectrum to the other—in extremes. I either cry and want to run or get giddy and laugh at EVERYTHING! I have been trying to handle this in-between jobs situation with more light heartedness, to affectionately tease my husband when he needs me to “retool” his resume and not take it personally.  I begin to talk in another accent, like I am his personal assistant from another country, emphasizing key phrases and “major accomplishments.” It makes things lighter, because the very thought of starting over and beginning again with another career can be a bit unsettling.

I was feeling a bit worried and anxious how my husband would be feeling yesterday morning because a potential position fell apart after a poor recruitment situation. I started the morning off blaring over the loud speakers Kelly Clarkson’s song “Stronger” (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger) Everyone at my house laughed!! It lightened the mood of the whole morning.

Laughter makes you feel better, it makes everything better!!

So here are some great ideas I dug up to make laughter part of your day!! This is for you and me. Just LAUGH!!

Watch a funny movie or TV show: Here are some links to different top movie lists.  Complex Pop Culture lists the top 50 movies http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2011/03/the-top-50-funny-movies/     Here is Ranker.com’s list of their top 50 http://www.ranker.com/crowdranked-list/the-funniest-movies-of-all-time

Watch some funny youtube videos: lately I have LOVED anything SOULPANCAKE. They have some fun, inspirational and funny videos. Another good laugh is Laugh Out Loud–they do prank type videos and those are always fun to watch. There are even compilations of funny videos and pranks, so just do a search on Youtube for funny videos & you’ll find a lot.

Go to a comedy club and LOL

Have a fun game night with friends & have them bring a few of their favorite jokes or stories. Shared laughter brings more connection and is great for relationships.

Check out the humor section at your local book store. Find something that is funny to you.

Go to a “Laughter yoga” class: Here is a good link to get you started with Laughter Yoga International  http://laughteryoga.org/ & then find an organization near you.

Play with children: Children are the greatest example of play and laughter, so emulate them, have fun and enjoy your moments with them. Yesterday I was taking care of my sister’s two kids. We sang songs & made up songs & just started giggling and giggling at our crazy songs. It was good to laugh.

Do something silly: Photograph crazy, distorted pictures of you and your family together, When you go on a walk put some thought into it—walk like an egyptian, a chicken, disco, etc. Make a silly breakfast like green eggs and ham, Dance all the time & everywhere, Make silly faces & name them, Talk in a silly voice (from another land, like a alien, like the cookie monster, like a robot, like Mickey Mouse)—these may seem too silly, but some of these are actual psychological, neurolinguistic programming techniques–Have fun with it!!

Make time for some FUN! Go bowling & turn it into a bowling for pennies (or dollars) game, do miniature golf with your left hand, maybe have a karaoke night where everyone has to sing like they are from another country…make opportunities for fun, for laughter.

Bring humor into your conversations: Ask people, “What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you?”

Have good ways to deal with stress: because stress stops laughter, it is the enemy to happiness, it slows it down & can be a big barrier for a good laugh or a good feeling.

Try to not take yourself so seriously: don’t be afraid to share embarrassing moments, find something funny about a bad situation, surround yourself with things that make you smile (funny screen saver, fun picture of your family, playful toy on your desk, etc),

Hope these ideas help you in your pursuit of LAUGHTER!! Do something fun this weekend and truly enjoy yourself and those around you.

Cheers to you. Heather

THANK YOU Bloggers!!

ImageI just wanted to send out a quick THANK YOU for taking the time to read. Yesterday I was having a blue moment and needed a moment of grace. After I wrote my blog post yesterday (Looking for the gift of grace) I began organizing my home (in case we need to move) and came across some old life lists and journal entries that made my heart sink a bit. I was feeling a very deep sense of not making much of a difference, not feeling valued and experiencing a blue cloud moment. I stopped everything and began to pray. I prayed to feel worth, that someone was listening, that I am doing something of value. I looked at my phone & asked God to PLEASE have someone who liked my blog today.  I opened up my emails and had ten people appreciate my blog post. That may not seem like much, but for me it was a highlight of my day. A Silver Lining Moment! I began to weep and appreciated the small gift of grace. 

THANK YOU for taking the time. It does matter.

-Genuine thanks, Heather

-image from KimberlyTaylor images

Looking for the Gift of Grace

ImageI do not at all understand the mystery of grace, only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
-Anne Lamott 

The word “Grace” derives from the Greek, chars. In Secular Greek, chars was related to chair, “to rejoice.”

Over the years I have learned to look for the tiny signs, the details that may lead me to a moment of grace, a moment of quiet rejoicing, in finding that I am truly not alone in this world.

I want you to think of a time where life was painful or you felt alone or you needed comfort and someone showed up, or you received a phone call you needed to hear or a special song played on the radio just for you.  I want you to think about the smallest threads that have held you together when you felt like things were unraveling around you. It is through these moments that we can find that quiet place of grace.

I have been very blessed with little moments when I need them most. It’s as if at my lowest points there is a glimpse or shimmer of something bigger than me. When I need an answer more than ever, I am handed a gracious gift. They may seem small and insignificant to you, but to me they are cherished jewels that I can string together and hold on to.

I wanted to share a few of these moments with you, so hopefully you will look all around you and see a moment, a sign, a gift of grace…

Just the other day I had been thinking and praying to know what is going to happen with my husbands professional career…would he find a job, will he be able to handle the pressure, will we have to move? I had been feeling very anxious, needing to know what lies ahead, wondering if we will have to move again, concerned about how my daughter Kate will handle such change…on and on the worries played.

Then, that night while we tucked our daughter into bed we were debating if we should listen to music, read a story, etc. I lifted up our little children’s devotion book and my daughter grabbed it out of my hands and started flipping through the pages. She said, “lets do the day of my birthday.” We had practically missed almost every day in February, so I was fine going back to her special day. We began to read and I instantly knew the message was for me, for all of us. It read…THE FUTURE IS MY SECRET…Sometimes you think it might be nice to know the future, what to expect, how things will turn out. There are even some people who claim they can tell you the future. But the future is a secret. It is my secret. When you try to figure out the future you are reaching for something that is Mine. My keeping your future a secret, I am teaching you to depend on Me. Trust My promises to care for you, to look out for you. I will show you the next step you need to take, and the one after that, and the one after that–one step at a time. Don’t try to rush ahead of Me. Just relax and enjoy the journey to your future–one day at a time.

Another moment was a time when my husband was leaving town on a business trip. He had been really stressed with work, had not had time to physically work out and things were really getting to him.  I was worried, really worried about where he was in his mind. He had been very emotional. I stood in our driveway with our little girl and we watched him drive away. I had this terrible feeling come over me and I was filled with more worry and concern. I felt like we may never see him again, that something was going to happen. I grabbed my daughter’s hand and told her we needed to say a prayer for Daddy. She asked me why and I told her I was a little worried for Dad and that we needed to pray for him to be safe. We said a prayer and I still felt a little unsettled. I saw Louise Hay’s affirmation cards and I grabbed one from the stack, it read, “I move through life knowing that I am safe—Divinely protected and guided.” A wave of calm ran through my body and peace filled me and I knew he would be okay.

One last moment I will share was this last summer when my little family was deciding if we should make a special trip to the Oregon coast.  I have wanted to go visit the Redwood Forest for years and my husbands job was constantly taking him to Washington and Oregon, so we were thinking this would be a good time to go. I began planning, looking at costs, trying to figure out if it would be good timing when my daughter ended up in the hospital a few months before with Pneumonia. Thankfully she was there only a couple days and got better, but then the medical bills came, our car had some issues and the Redwood trip looked like it should be pushed back to another year. The day we had decided the timing was not right I had a couple of moments of grace…that same day I was looking through my book collection for a book to include in a teacher appreciation basket. I came across a book called  “The Woman’s book of Confidence.” I began to flip through the pages to make sure there were not any notes or markings when I came across a page titled, “Deep Roots.” I was curious and began to read, it was all about this women’s trip along the coast and the Redwood forest. I knew this was a sign. I immediately called my husband and told him we needed to go. Later that same day I took a walk through the forest near my home. I was smiling to myself thinking about the amazing coincidence that had just occurred when a voice in my head said, “it’s about time you got it!! I have been trying to tell you, I even had you move to Redwood Drive.”  I laughed out loud at this funny moment. There was definitely inspiration about!! It is a good thing we took the adventure to the coast because now my husband will not be traveling to Oregon or Washington again. Thank heavens for that amazing trip. I am glad we listened.

Well, inspiration, grace, whispers, feelings, thoughts, all echo the same song…that you are not alone, so look for the little signs, pick up the books that seem to call you, fill your heart with wonder, look for the magic in all things and know you are not alone.

Lots of love and grace filled moments to you. -Heather

Ways you can learn to be optimistic


“When life is sweet, say THANK YOU and CELEBRATE. And when life is bitter, say THANK YOU and GROW.”

My husband’s last day from his job was Friday and it has been a wave of emotion through many lenses. I have heard story after story and phone call after phone call of the emotional ride many of my husbands associates are going through. He just got of the phone with some one who is getting hit with the anger ball!! He is mad at everyone, the situation, the company that did not hire him, that he may have to move to feed his family, that he won’t make as much money…I loved hearing my husband chime in “I think this could work out to be an even better situation for all of us.”


If we can focus on not becoming the victim in any life challenge or change, we will come out better for it. If we can keep our heads from falling down in defeating thoughts and rise above the negative, we will be able to truly see what is ahead.  If we can continue to move forward daily and not get stuck in the mire of self doubt, then the road will be clear, clarity will be seen, the direction will be one of focus.

Life truly does throw us a challenge to help us grow, to help us move, to help us reach higher. It is like the metaphor of a spring flower reaching up through the layers of hard soil, reaching to break through the tough dirt to feel the warmth of the sun, to grow stronger, to feel the light of day and begin to feel of its purpose, to then bloom and grow again.

If we can change our perspective and look at change and challenge as a tool for growth, to learn to see the optimistic side, then each day will have purpose, each moment will challenge our thoughts, our direction will unchanged.

Can we learn to be optimistic in times of challenge?? Here is a great article that shows some great examples..

I can ‘learn’ Optimism     From Dr. Martin Seligman

Yep, according to psychologist Dr. Martin Seligman, you sure can…and if you believe the

research, you probably should!

We all know that optimists see the glass as half-full while pessimists see it as half-empty. But, that doesn’t come close to doing justice to the importance of optimism and how it affects our lives.

Martin Seligman, one of the leading psychologists in the world, has spent the last three and a half decades researching the influence of optimism on our lives. Much of his work is presented in his book Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life.

Met Life

What does Met Life have to do with optimism? Quite a bit. Met Life was one of the first organizations to work with Seligman to apply his theories to the working world. And the company did so with great success.

Met Life (and all insurance companies, and many businesses for that matter) pay a lot of money to screen their candidates. Seligman believes that optimism is an important variable to look out for, and that this characteristic ties directly to the bottom line.

We’ll begin with traditional hiring wisdom which “holds that there are two ingredients of success…the first is ability or aptitude, and IQ tests and SAT are supposed to measure it. The second is desire or motivation. No matter how much aptitude you have, says traditional wisdom, if you

lack desire you will fail. Enough desire can make up for meager talent.”

Seligman continues, “I believe that traditional wisdom is incomplete. A composer can have all the talent of Mozart and a passionate desire to succeed, but if he believes he cannot compose music, he will come to nothing. He will not try hard enough. He will give up too soon when the elusive right melody takes too long to materialize.

Success requires persistence, the ability to not give up in the face of failure. I believe that optimistic explanatory style is the key to persistence.”

“The explanatory-style theory of success says that in order to choose people for success in a challenging job, you need to select for three characteristics:

1. aptitude   2. motivation   3. optimism”

Seligman took this theory to Met Life and tested it out. What did he find?

In short, he found that insurance agents who scored in the less optimistic half of his test were twice as likely to quit as agents who scored in the more optimistic half. Further, The agents from the top quarter sold 50% more than the agents from the bottom quarter.

Matt Biondi

Do you remember Matt Biondi? He was the greatest swimmer of his era and one of the most victorious Olympians of all time. He also happened to be a subject in one of Seligman’s research studies–an incredibly optimistic subject, in fact.

During the 1998 Seoul Olympics, Biondi was expected to bring home gold in all seven of his events. His first two events were a disappointment–he received bronze and silver.

Seligman tells a story about how he was watching the events at home, listening to the announcers ponder whether Biondi would rebound well following his two disappointments. Seligman says, “I sat in my living room confident he would.”

Why? “Because his explanatory style was highly optimistic and he had shown us that he got faster–not slower–after defeat.”

How’d he do? In the last five events in Seoul, Biondi won five gold medals.


Seligman took his theories to the sports arena and found some fascinating results.

His question: Could a sports team be optimistic or pessimistic? How would this affect its performance?

His study: He focused on the Atlantic Division of the NBA. Holding other variables constant, his research team scientifically analyzed quotes from players and coaches to measure their level of optimism or pessimism following either a win or a loss.

His findings: Teams, and not just individuals, have a meaningful and measurable explanatory style. Following a loss, an optimistic team was much more likely to beat the spread. A team’s explanatory style for bad events strongly predicts how they do against a point spread after a loss in the next season.

In his study, the Celtics were the quintessential optimists–always explaining away a bad loss as temporary, specific, and not their fault. They were an uncanny comeback team. Language they used: “They were making good, quick cuts to the basket.” And,

“That’s the best I’ve ever seen a team run.”

The Nets, on the other hand, were mentally shipwrecked. They explained losses as permanent, pervasive, and their own fault: “We botched up things ourselves and blew all our opportunities.” And, “This is one of the physically weakest teams I’ve ever coached.”

-Seligman article taken from thinkarete

Optimists, in other words, know how to bounce back. Martin Seligman, professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and author of Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life, explains it this way: “If a setback is thought about as temporary, changeable, and local, that’s optimism. If it’s thought about as permanent, unchangeable, and pervasive, that’s pessimism.” Victories are just the reverse: Optimists think of them as permanent and far-reaching; pessimists think of them as fleeting and situation-specific. For instance, if an optimist encounters a recipe she can’t make work, she’s likely to perceive the failure as external and temporary (“I’m just having an off day”), while the pessimist makes it internal and indelible (“I’ll never learn to cook”). As Seligman explains, optimism serves as a crucial framework for relating to experiences. “It’s the skeleton of hope,” he says.

-this quote from Oprah article http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Optimism#ixzz2NFi0OwlJ

Become More Optimistic

How do I become more optimistic?

Seligman’s advice: monitor your internal dialogue! As you know, we’re constantly talking to ourselves. The next time you find yourself anxious or worried, pause for a moment and pay attention to what you’re saying to yourself.

Internal dialogue is a big one—what dog are you feeding?  We have a great indian metaphor that we share in our family…imagine two dogs in your head. Imagine one with loving eyes and the other with a mean stare. Which dog will you want to feed? the one that may bite your hand off? We look at positive and negative self talk the same way. Do you want to listen to the good or bad?? Which beast do you want to feed?

We tend to have automatic responses to different situations. We need to develop awareness of those automatic responses, and then develop new, more effective ways to interpret life’s events.

Look at the positives in your life—there are many. Get grateful. From gratitude many gifts will unfold.

Look at the strengths you possess: Are you giving yourself any credit for the contributions you make to the world, to your family, your friends, your work?? My husband through this whole work change has received many letters of thanks and appreciation. I told him to make sure he keeps those words of praise and he tried to shrug it off.

Look at things on a brighter side…have an optimistic outlook no matter what. You can literally change your brain to trick it into thinking things are better. Facial expressions and the way you explain something will make a difference.

The grass doesn’t have to be greener…no matter what your situation, there is always someone else who is worse off than you. When you begin to compare yourself to your neighbor who has a bigger house, who has a great paying job, a cuter dog….just remember to stop, don’t go there. Nothing good will come out of comparisons. Begin to get grateful.. for your health and think about how great it is to not be in a hospital bed, for your children that don’t have an illness…you understand.

SMILE…its contagious and connects you to others.

Well, I hope this article has given you some ideas and direction about learning to find the GOOD in any situation. Your life is the only one you’ve got, so make it AMAZING!!

Cheers to a GREAT day! Heather

What you can learn from Disneyland!


I was creating a activity book for my ten year old daughter for our long drive to Disneyland a couple weeks ago and came across some great Disney quotes…

So, I thought after a fun trip in Disneyland last week that I would write about some of the fun things I learned from Disneyland!!

“Hakuna Matata…it means no worries.” -Lion King    This is a great lesson for our little family. We are in between jobs, but decided to put worry aside and head to Disneyland for our daughter’s birthday. You only have birthdays once a year, so we lived by the quote Hakuna Matata…no worries & we will always have our memories together in Disneyland for her sweet, one and only 10th birthday!

“Faith makes dreams come true”  -The Rescuers     Where do dreams begin? They begin with each small step that takes you closer to anything your heart desires.  It is taking the first step that seems to be the biggest faith building moment.  I have been thinking about faith every single day, knowing that doors will open.  “Put your faith in what you most believe in.” -Tarzan

“A whole new world, a new fantastic point of view.”  -Aladdin   I am looking at each day as a new adventure, not knowing where our little family will be, if we will have to move, if Kate will be able to handle change…each day is a new day, full of surprises.

“The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you UNIQUE”  -Walt Disney  My daughter reminds me of this daily. She has this amazing ability to shine…like children do. She is fearless and full of enthusiasm. While we were in Disneyland she wanted to stand out, be noticed, so she danced everywhere (she has done this since she was little in any theme park). On her birthday she was given two Disneyland birthday buttons, which she wore proudly (on her shirt & hat–so everyone could see them) and enjoyed everyone telling her “Happy Birthday.” While we were watching some street performers, they asked for some people to join in, my daughter jumped at the chance. She didn’t hesitate and walked out into the middle of probably fifty people and began to dance with the performers. No fear!! Proud to be who she is and happy to shine, like she was meant to!!

“Happiness is a state of mind.”  -Walt Disney  I know we were happy enjoying ourselves on every little favorite, simple pleasure. We were happy eating our churros and Mickey ice creams every single day!! Our daughter was Happy waiting in 45 minute lines to see the princesses. My husband was Happy even though he was running between parks to get fast passes. After three days straight—I was Happy to find a quiet bench. You can find Happiness in everything!

“What if it’s not everything that I dreamed it would be? What do I do then? You get to find a new dream.”  -Tangled   There is always a bit of struggle in any type of change—new job, new baby, new move, new relationship…but you do your best to make things how you imagined, and if it seems tainted or not how you envisioned, then you begin again to find something you can cherish, something you can learn from, something you can take with you into a new moment. There truly always is a silver lining in all things, you may just need to look a little closer to see it.

“Laughter is timeless, imagination has no age, and dreams are forever.”  -Walt Disney   After walking around Disneyland for three days, there was no shortage of childlike adults sporting their sequined Minnie ears or pirate jack costumes. It is always fun to see families in the spirit of Disney with matching Disney shirts, little girls twirling about in their favorite princess dress and little boys fencing with their new plastic swords.  Watching people makes you  truly see the child within everyone and understand Walt’s sentiment that  laughter truly is timeless and has no age limit.

“It seems to me that we have a lot of story yet to tell.”   Thank heavens for additional pages in our life story. We take for granted that we have another day, yet hopefully, we find a grateful heart for another page, a little more of our own story.

“Dreams do come true, and maybe something wonderful will happen.”  -Giselle, Enchanted   This is already true for everyone. Something wonderful happens every day…you get a gift…a new day, a new chance to begin again, another moment with your children, a new love to live, a new dream to fulfill, another story to tell…

I hope these thoughts will help you to make it a better day. That you will look at today a little differently and that your life will shine a little brighter.

Thank you Walt Disney for creating a place where people can let go of worries, find a little magic and believe in dreams. You truly are a man of inspiration.

Have a beautiful day.  -Heather