Ways to get a Little more GRATITUDE, with a little less GIMME

Next week is the beginning of the beautiful holiday seasons, a time when families gather, friends enjoy one another and there is a special feeling in the air. The holidays are always a very special, magical time in our home and I am always looking for ways to bring in a little more peace, a little more giving, a little more gratitude to avoid the “gimme” attitude.

I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas to get you thinking of some things you can do to bring your family a little closer this holiday season.

To find a little more Gratitude and Thanks this Thanksgiving:

ImageLegacy Letters: Have each member of your family write a nice letter to one another & gift it to them for Thanksgiving or keep it until Christmas. My parents usually have each child create a scrapbook page of history from the year full of images and highlights from a few of their favorite memories throughout the year as a gift to them.

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Family time capsule: My sister-in-law just did a time capsule for her one-year-old, so this idea could be used on a variety of occasions. You could have everyone bring something that was impressionable from the past year–news this year, a picture of their family, a piece of jewelry that holds charms symbolic of each member, favorite stuffed animal or toy, letters, a magazine, something that would tie this year together & mean something to each individual. You could do this as individual families or with extended family. Make sure to include a list of questions like “What was your favorite thing that happened this year?” “What wishes do you have for next year”  “What is a meaningful memory you have from this past year”…

ImageFun Random Acts of Kindness Kit: this looks like a lot of fun. I found it on uncommon goods.com but you can buy it on amazon or other retailers.

ImageGIve said the little stream: I don’t know why I always think of this childhood song when I think about giving. Just last year I came across the actual book that shares this beautiful song.

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I was then looking for a inspiring video of this song and came across a beautifully done version in Korea. I wanted to add it here because it was done during a time of turmoil and war–to me it has a loving, peaceful message. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMNSChEydSo  Help us pray for peace always. Help us give peace and love freely.

GIVE: GIve to feel peaceful. Give to get healthy. Give to spread love. Give because it helps you feel GOoD (helps you feel GOD).  Here are some ideas to get your giving: Donate clothes. This is a great time to go through the closets and get rid of summer clothing, old shoes and coats that don’t fit any longer. Give warmth! Help someone. Do you have elderly neighbors that need leaves raked or may need a warm blanket with a side of hot cocoa mix. Make a snuggle care package for someone in need. Put together a pair of warm socks, gloves, water bottle, granola bar & a message of hope. You could also buy a few sleepingbags and donate them to a local organization or someone on the street. Help out a single mom. My sister is in the middle of a divorce & she is always in need of a break. Reach out to someone near you that is a single parent and offer them a break. Bake something for your local awesomeness. We love firefighters and police men who take care of our neighborhoods, so we enjoy baking up something and taking it into the dept. for everyone to enjoy. Make someone smile. You could just smile–that is always a good thing. But you could also have your kids draw a smiley face on a piece of paper and leave them on random cars. Create a crunch pack for college kids. My two nieces just moved to the area and are starving students, so they loved and appreciated the small snack pack I gave them. Find out from the dorm office or school if there are some kids in need & leave them a bag of snacks to help them get by. Get Artistic. Have your kids create works of art to donate to the elderly homes. Think of how much they will love the decorative trees and christmas scenes your kids will create.

Here is a good link to some additional ideas that are GREAT to get your family serving for specific organizations. Great info. http://www.newdream.org/blog/fun-holiday-service-projects-for-you-and-your-family

ImageGratitude rolls: I do love this idea. I am doing it this year!! We can never be too thankful for food and sweet wishes of thanks. Here are a few links for different directions and recipes: Enjoy  Dinner Rolls  http://www.howdoesshe.com/delicious-dinner-rolls/       Sweet Potato Rolls http://www.lifewiththecrustcutoff.com/sweet-potato-gratitude-rolls/

ImageFood: Food is always something that brings family together, so pull out some yummy recipes and get your family cooking together. Find recipes online and begin to dabble with your own culinary artist within!! Try new things and make it an occasion. It can be a Monday night “Mom & kids stir up something good night” or a  Tuesday “Try something new night”…it doesnt have to be JUST Thanksgiving. Make any meal an occasion just being together. I have been working harder on this area—because I am NOT a cook, but I am trying to make it a cooking adventure!! and I have been including my little girl in on the fun. Whether it is one night a week or seven–make it special!! It has been proven that sitting down for a family meal helps families, and especially helps our children.  Here are ten benefits from webmd of having family dinners: Everyone eats healthier meals, Kids are less likely to become overweight, Kids are more likely to stay away from cigarettes, drink alcohol, use drugs or try marijuana, School grades will be better, You & your kids will talk more, You will be more likely to hear about any serious problems, Kids will feel like you are proud of them and there will be less stress and tension at home.      *picture is Banana Bread pudding—just sounds yummy!! here is the linkhttp://3boysandadog.com/2012/11/banana-bread-pudding-thanksgiving-recipe/

Well, that is all for today. I will keep posting some more ideas to help us with gratitude and not gimme attitudes.

Happiness to you today.  -Heather

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Where is the little YOU??

ImageOn my walk yesterday I came across a mom and her little daughter who was dressed like a cat from head to toe. I commented on the cute costume and her mother smiled, “she dresses up in something different every day!”

What happens to that youthful essence? the part of who we are that yearns to play, to dress up in wild costumes, to show a side of ourselves that shines, the part that yearns to be creative, to risk…

Halloween is a wonderful time to dress up and be anything or anyone you wish to be—even just for the day!! I have a friend that comes to our halloween party every year as his favorite college football fan. He wears the same thing almost every year. It makes me a little sad that he doesn’t take the time to let his inner child play, to find the freedom in the fun!!

I was listening recently to a podcast with Kelly Ray Roberts who is a “artist, author, possibilitarian”—you may have seen her work (smile) here is her link http://kellyraeroberts.com  I LOVE that my computer just underlined “possibilitarian” because that just goes to show you that not EVERYTHING has reason. The very word doesn’t show up, but to me this yells…creator of possibility, I want to be one of those, endless possibilities, the world should be cheering and applauding at the very thought of this existence.

Talking about the essence of youth made me think of something she said—she explained that she looks at herself as someone who has her inner child creating the art (being wild, crazy, youthful, creative), and the adult part of her that runs the business, while there are other parts like mother, wife…I loved the thought that she taps into this essence within herself to let her little child be free, to create, to touch that part of her that wants to be free.

So, where is the little YOU? Is it hiding, have you not talked to them in awhile, is she/he been afraid since you were little? Is there a part of you that wants to forget that little you? Whether you need to nurture or neglect this part of you—it is there, hoping you will tap into that part of you that can help you remember things you love, things you use to enjoy doing, a little part of you that longs to play, create, be alive and remembered.

ImageHere are some exercises, tips and ideas to tap into the little you:

Dawn Breslin, Coach and author of “Power of Zestful Living” http://www.dawnbreslin.com has a great exercise about helping you remember the little part of You (the child within). She has her readers find a picture of them self at a young age and has them hang it somewhere that they can look at it whenever they need inspiration, are making a big life decision, are trying to be creative, etc. When you look at this picture of the little you, you then go back in your mind & ask that little you what you need right now?? and then listen. You may be surprised at what you hear within yourself. Try it.

Children love play, fun, creativity…so be open to this on a personal level. Take time to step away from the “serious adult” part of you and just enJOY!! Find enjoyment in little things: get outside, play in the leaves. The other day I challenged my daughter to lay under a fall tree that was beginning to drop its leaves. She didn’t want to because of the feeling of crunchy leaves, but took the challenge. We watched the tree as one by one a leaf fell and we tried to catch them. True JOY in a small thing!!

Slow down and do something that slows you. Children can play in a sandbox or beach sand for hours just moving the sand to create forms. Sit by a stream and just listen, watch birds,  water plants, play in sand, just sit and take in your surroundings, calming the little one within.

Nature calls to everyone–young and old. Take a walk, stare at the moon and stars, listen to the sounds outside.

PLAY. Sometimes we get hung up on the idea of taking a playful day or break because of all the responsibilities we ‘should’ be doing. But play is so good for us on many levels. Let go of any guilty feelings you may have about doing something fun for yourself. Let go of your adult mindset and allow your inner child to find something fun to do. Whether you have always wanted to try horse back riding, want to parasail, take an art class, buy a record player, have a Star Wars marathon,

Do things you loved as a kid. Did you love baking in a Toy oven, swinging on the playground, dressing up in fun costumes,

Let go of things. My daughter is great at this. She can be mad at me about something and then hugging me the next. I feel like I am spinning a lot of the time. Just this morning I was wishing I could let go of things a little more easily. Feel what you are feeling (anger, frustration, stress…) and don’t judge it. Take a minute and then let it go. Did you know that according to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor anger can only stay within your body for 90 seconds and then it is gone UNLESS you begin to rehash it over and over in your mind. After 90 seconds—let it go. Anything.

Do things your kids enjoy doing. I do love going to the park and swinging with my daughter. Play Legos, build forts, make up songs, paint, draw, color, doodle, read picture books, play ball, climb trees, watch Saturday morning cartoons…enjoy the time with them & let your little you play!

Shock & Awe: Simply JUMP, do a cartwheel, pull out the robot dance move, pull a funny face & make yourself smile. Make your little child within giggle and feel JOY from a simple move. I saw a video of One guy who went around his city and just had people simply jump and spin. Every person smiled or laughed. Here is the link if you want to watch http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8GsoaUIptY He also did one where he found random people and had them pull a funny face (so child like–smile. smile) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2PQj5lAcew

Think back to when you were little & think of all the things you wanted to be and do. Write down your memories, evaluate which ones still resonate with you & begin to create a fun LITTLE YOU LIFE LIST & begin to do them!!

SMILE. Smile often like children do. Make wishes like children do. Be gentle with yourself. Have fun. Enjoy many things like children do. There is and always will be a part of you that is the little you within, so take the time to give that little one some of the desired attention. You will be better for it—I promise.

Peace out.  -Heather

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Parasailing Mexico

beach-parasailIt is funny how a little google animated short can remind you of a funny life experience. Today is apparently the 216th anniversary of the first paragliding jump. Wahoo!! So I was definitely taken back to a crazy parasailing experience I did in Mexico about six or seven years ago.

Envision this…Me, my husband, my Dad, my mom and a family friend looking for a parasailing adventure. Why Mexico?? I have no idea. I now know Mexico is the last place to look for a parasailing adventure—probably, any type of adventure. Luckily my Dad spoke Spanish, so I thought we would be just fine. A local pointed us in a direction of a certain beach that offered parasailing. I had envisioned a nice, little boat ride and being slowly let off the back of the boat by a large pulley system. Not a chance, we showed up at this beach as a small group of locals was untangling and untangling a very messed up parachute. I began to panic & wondered what we were doing. Could this actually be the place where we were to go parasailing. My Dad was talking to the guy in charge, apparently making some sort of deal because then we were one by one getting fitted in the harness. It was my turn & I panicked as the young man in charge just started saying over and over again, “listen for whistle, go this direction to X.” I honestly didn’t know what was going to happen. My heart raced with thoughts of a Carribean trip where I saw a guy in a similar contraption crash into the beach and die. Yikes!! All the sudden I was beginning to go up into the air. I looked down & my mind then began racing with thoughts of sharks below. I scanned my surroundings below and thankfully didn’t see any dark shadows. Then my mind began to think of the directions that were given, listen for the whistle. Just then it was like every possible car alarm in Mexico was going off & there was no way I could hear anything—let alone a whistle. My eyes scanned the beach for an X, I saw nothing but little specs of people and heard only alarms. I was looking everywhere, hoping to find some sort of direction as to the next step or how I would make it safely to the ground. “I have a kid, I can’t die like this.” My thoughts began to panic because I couldn’t hear a whistle to save my life!!!

Then, I began to slowly go down, I was able to get a closer look at the small, wooden type boat that was pulling me. I didnt feel any better. I was closer to the beach, still searching for a whistle, looking for any type of X landing that may lead to a beach where my family awaited. I got closer and the noise began to break further away & the whistle was in reach. “got it!!” I followed the gestures that were madly being waved at me so I could land correctly & in the right spot. I definitely didn’t want to land on the neighboring beach house veranda.

I made it!! My heart slowed and the chaos in my mind began to shut down.

choice-life-sign-text-way-Favim.com-195127Would I do it again—Not in Mexico!! Just the sight of the tangled parachute should have sent us running, but it was quite the adventure!!

It does remind me of life directions & how we make decisions. Sometimes we come to a road where we need some help making a decision, so we wish for a loud whistle, a big sign to come our direction, a friend to call and give us the right answer. This makes me think of the funny scene in the movie, Bruce Almighty when he is praying for a sign & a big truck full of signs pulls in front of him (smile. smile). Life is not usually like that. We may need to humbly be guided, seek guidance through a solemn prayer, have an understanding and faith that things will work out in a way we need to experience the direction. Life is a big adventure, full of big jumps, scary cliffs, heart wrenching pain, people who come and go, moments that thrill, memories that leave us breathless…it is all with the gift and understanding of what is needed and when. We just have to go with faith and listen…sometimes, for the whistle!!

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Creating the comforts of Home

il_570xN.310423992With fall in the air there seems to be this need to bundle up, to light candles, to create a place of warmth and comfort. This week I literally stacked up on candles and bought a cozy blanket…why?? the comforts of home. That wonderful place that calls you to stay, that space that brings family together, a place that nurtures our necessities.

So what do we truly need from our home?? Ask yourself, ‘What do I want from my home?’

Did you think…quiet, calm, order, warmth, love, family, fresh bread baking in the oven, the smell of lavender, soft sheets, warm blankets, a clean dog, vacuumed rugs, steam cleaned floors, a space for my children’s art, pictures of my family, everything dusted, pretty music playing, candles flickering, a vase of fresh flowers, color, patterns, textures that make me want to melt, time to read with my children, bubble baths, plants, family dinner around a set table, art that inspires, space to be quiet, a place to create, a space to do yoga, a room with a fluffy rug, a room with a view I enjoy, bowls that all match in my cupboards, silverware that I enjoy eating with, a pillow that puts me to sleep, clean windows, organized drawers…the ideas are endless. What do you want from your home? a sanctuary, a safe place, a place that inspires, a place that creates memories?

You may want to write down every idea that came to you, so you will have something to move toward. Even if you took one little idea at a time & began to create what you want within the walls of your home. It is your direction, your families safe space, the walls that will nurture your tiny children, the place that will surround your family with love and kindness…but you have to first decide what you and your family need and desire & then you will be successful at creating the comforts you desire within your home. Talk to your family & ask them what they love about being home—do they feel comfortable & what is it that they as individuals love and appreciate. Do they sleep well in their room? if not, what do they need—a better bed, a soft light, a little music, lavender sprayed on their pillow, etc. Do they find comfort in milk and cookies after school? Do they enjoy having dinner by candlelight? Do the colors of the walls or the furniture seem warm? Do you have mostly hard surfaces & need to add some comfy rugs to warm up a space? Do you have enough family time & where do you spend that quality time–is it at the kitchen table or in the family room. Is there enough room for everyone? Is your family even home enough or are your schedules to cluttered with lessons & carpool that you aren’t even home. Maybe you need to evaluate your schedule to make time to be home as a family. HAPPINESS truly is HOMEMADE.

The other day I was having a bit of a battle with my daughter & I gave her the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen & getting ready for dinner. She was not happy, so much so that I literally had to remove myself from our home & go on a drive. When I came back she had gone over and beyond—she set the dinner table, lit candles, had place mats, had cleaned the kitchen & had a change of attitude. I happily cheered her on in her change & expressed my gratitude for all she had done and then I simply asked her, “why were you struggling, what can I do to help?”    You know what she said, “I want to help out with dinner every night.” I smiled & said, “done.”

Even children can give you ideas and bring their own piece to creating the comforts needed within your home. Just ask them what they would like to do to make your home a little better. I bet you would be surprised at what they come up with. Include the whole family in creating a comfortable home, everyone lives within the four walls, so everyone should have an opportunity to do their part. Home truly is where the heart is.

Think about it…What do I want from my home?

Here are some fun images to inspire you…cfadb43ac6856fb80318ebd8953fca58Boy, girl and dog sleeping covered with a blanket.45-Cozy-Rustic-Bedroom-Design-Ideas-with-white-bed-pillow-blanket-rattan-basket-window-lamp-nightstand-carpet-and-hardwood-floor-flowerfamily-wall-sayings-11-Picnic-Table-Settings-e1346284821766California ClosetsA-Picnic-in-the-Park-2012-IKEA-Summer-Inspiration-Decorating-and-Relaxing.jpeg-570x4279912221-young-woman-lying-in-hammock-in-a-garden-and-reading-a-book-shallow-dof-focus-on-a-left-shoulderimages-3article-new-ehow-images-a07-np-50-guitar-lessons-beginners-800x800SimpleWomanonRugPurple heart in the hands

WHY??

ImageWHY is a great question & a great reason for any type of change within your life.  Think about it—If you have a reason to do something, you will get results. If someone is getting married, they are going to do all they can to lose weight—WHY??? to fit into their wedding dress. If someone has a hard time giving up smoking & then suddenly stops—WHY??? because they get pregnant & don’t want to harm their baby OR finds another good reason– like truly seeing the harm they are doing to their body.

Ask yourself if there is something in your life that you want to change—then ask yourself WHY you can’t?? Find a reason WHY that will help you stick to something you want to change.

I recently have been trying to stop drinking Mr. Pibb because I have noticed how poorly it affects my breathing. WHY was I able to stop drinking it overnight??  Because every time I think about needing a drink I think about how badly it affects my lungs.

WHY don’t you like to exercise? Maybe you need to reframe the picture & envision being able to play with your kids instead of ending up winded & unable to have fun with them. WHY don’t you find some type of exercise that you do enjoy. WHY havent you tried taking a class, going to your local gym to see if you enjoy swimming, going on a walk. WHY will bring up more questions that you can ask yourself & get a feeling for where your hesitations are.

WHY can’t you give up a bad habit?? because you don’t want too badly enough & you then set yourself up for failure. You need to create or think of a positive to replace the negative bad habit. For instance, every time I pass the gas station that I usually get a Mr. Pibb, I have to refrain & think of somewhere else to get a good drink to replace that bad one. I usually go to a Sonic & get a cranberry or lime drink to ease away from needing my usual sip.  What if you enjoy staying up really late, because you have told yourself you are a ‘night owl’ or have created a time slot to finish deadlines, only to wake the next day dragging. Work on creating a good schedule for yourself, one that gets you to bed earlier, so you won’t be dragging, will get the necessary sleep your body needs to properly work to get things done efficiently. Create a plan to get rid of a bad habit. Once you have a plan in place, your actions will speak louder than your “words.” You will be able to ‘walk the talk’ and truly see progress.

WHY is very powerful!! It is what you do with it. 

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Creating & Enjoying a FALL Fest with your FAMILY

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Fall break is upon us here and many parents are scrambling to find fun things to do with their kids, so I thought I would put together some ideas and share some things we are doing.

Here are a few of my favorites from Real Simple: Get lost in a corn maze, Take a hot-air balloon ride, Collect colorful fall leaves, Plant bulbs in your garden for next spring, Take a fall drive, Make a pinecone bird feeder, Make rice krispie treats, Make a giant pile of leaves and jump in them, Bake a apple or pumpkin pie, Make candy apples, Enjoy a cup of hot spiced cider, Carve pumpkins, Make or create your own Halloween costumes, go to a haunted house, Build a bonfire, visit a antique shop, Collect pinecones as a family & have a special bowl to display them,

Some of the fun things we do during the FALL FEST!!

Chili contest: Every Halloween we have had family over and had a chili cook off!! October is a great month to have a chili contest with friends or family any time!! Have everyone bring a sampling to share with every one and make it an event!!

Bird nest of Leaves: For years we have had big trees that have many leaves, so we began the tradition of making a giant bird nest and taking a picture of our family inside. It is fun to pile them up & jump in!! Makes a great memory.

Bird Feeder out of pinecone: We have done this a few times at our house. Get pinecone, smother peanut butter and roll in bird seed. Everyone is happy!Image

Spooktacular movies: We are not particularly in love with horror—leaves my daughter with nightmares, so we have a few family favorites—Bewitched, The Adams Family, Casper, The Good Witch, Sabrina the teenage witch.

Acorn everything: I love and adore the very sign of acorns. I grab my camera and snap, snap–the shape, the whimsy, the magic. I found a darling idea to make acorn fairies and darling acorn donuts. ImageImage

Foliage Friends: I came across the next couple of cute ideas at Spoonful.com Have your family find leaves and then glue them on a page, add bodies, faces…FUN! Creative!!Image

Fall Trail Hunt: Give your kids a egg carton with each slot colored a specific color of something they need to find in the forest. It is a fun, fall scavenger hunt!! Happy hunting.

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I also love Luminaries: Nothing like a little light in any kind of darkness. Whether you make necklaces out of glow sticks or lanterns out of paper or canning jars—halloween needs some light!! Here are some fun ideas I came across.ImageImageImageImage

Make up your own Halloween song: I have done this a couple of times with my little girl & her cousins. It is fun because each year we pull out our own Halloween song & everyone sings along.

Enjoy a “Windy Walk”: When there is a good wind blowing, bundle up and walk through the whirling, fall leaves.

I am going to call these “Warm words” rolled into a yummy roll—good for any time of the year!! I just found this idea & thought it would be great for a fall fest with family or thanksgiving—both!! Here is the link. http://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/2011/11/thankful-rolls.html

Some additional ideas: Fall family bike ride,  Bundle up and attend a local football game, buy your pumpkins at a patch, Make your own garland out of pinecones, Read spooky stories, Have a Halloween Spooktacular Scone night, Roast pumpkin seeds, Make carmel corn, Make smores over an open fire, make pumpkin pancakes, make homemade soup, make anything pumpkin!!

It’s FALL…have FUN!!Image

What is your motto—Oh well OR What if?

ImageI was listening to a podcast recently by Pat Flynn. He had spent years going to architectural school, graduated, got his dream job and then was laid off. He then fell into the world of online business and has been very successful. One of his motto’s I loved… “It is better to go with the Oh Wells in life instead of the What if’s.”

I like the idea of going for it, trying something new, taking a chance, instead of wondering what if this happens. You are going to be further along any road trying different ways of getting somewhere, then being stuck in one place wondering and worrying about what could happen.

Begin to move in the direction of your thoughts, your ideas, your dreams, your desires. It is harder for life to slow down someone who is moving with a breath of enthusiasm, then to circle someone who stands still. There is a time and a place for stillness, but not when there is a whirl of creativity, a urgency of ideas, a well of endless possibilities that seems to be circling you. This is the call of movement, the inner desires of your heart, a direction that needs you to follow.

Don’t give in to the what if’s—move, dance, create, fulfill that part of you that can open the door to experiences that will enhance your life, that will guide you to learning something new, that will teach you something about yourself…even if it ends up being a “oh well” moment. You will be able to look at yourself and know—you were moved, you listened and you followed.

So here’s to life motto’s—those little sayings that speak to our hearts & dwell in our minds….Which ones are you going to follow?

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