Make the holidays Merry & Bright

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The holidays are a time where we have moments of stress and joy!! Like the darling apron I gave my mother-in-law, “Desserts” is “Stressed” backwards. Funny, right!!  For a fun-filled holiday we have to enjoy the good and the bad, so I am going to do my best to give you some great ideas to make your holidays a little more Merry and Bright. EnJOY!

Breakout of the USUAL: During the holidays try something new–if your family has never gone tubing, ice skating or caroling, a bonfire on the beach, fed the homeless or made homemade cards–maybe try it! Shake it up & do the unusual.  Last year we tried snowshoeing and made a great memory.

Keep a stash on hand: I know I am always looking for movies, stocking stuffers, or little gifts last minute to give to a neighbor or friend I forgot. If you have a stash on hand, you will have less worry.

Keep it casual and cozy: Many people would tell you to overdress for any occasion during the holiday, but I would say keep it casually nice and cozy. Where we live it is cold!! Recently we went with my extended family to a performance that was a dressy occasion & everyone kept reminding me, “dress up,” but I used my common sense & went warm. All night everyone was wishing they had dressed warmer.  Tips: Make Nice scarves and hats your new best friends–they dress up any outfit and keep you warm during the holidays. Also, keep it simple–black with a little sparkle fits any occasion.

Set the mood: I think candles and fresh scents stir the senses and make the holidays even better. Where we live it now gets dark around 5pm. Yikes. I begin to get tired even earlier and the darkness seems to zap energy. With twinkling lights, candles and fresh aroma’s of citrus and cinnamon simmering on the stove, the holidays are a little more cozy and relaxed.  Here is a link to some stove top recipes  http://www.spendwithpennies.com/homemade-air-fresheners/

Stop, drop and stretch: Even a little exercise is better than nothing. Doing simple stretches moves your body and keeps the healthy endorphins pumping through your body. This will help with any holiday stress. Here are some simple stretches from Real Simple http://www.realsimple.com/health/fitness-exercise/stretching-yoga/stretching-exercises

A little more activity: While you are out and about, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park a little farther from the stores and enjoy a good snow shovel for a friend or family member.

Prepare and avoid the last minute low-down: If you wait till last minute you will begin to feel more pressure, stress and it will leave you feeling low. If you begin to prepare now for gift giving, card creating and overall holiday cheer—everything will be brighter. Make a list of friends and family that you want to send cards or gifts–check it twice. Decide how much you want to spend this holiday season & don’t overspend [this will leave you down after the holidays]. Remember: giving a gift from the heart (homemade cards, knit gift bags, personal photos, etc) are treasured and won’t cost you as much.

You can say NO: There will be many work parties, family, friend, neighborhood parties and events to attend. If you sit down with your family before the hustle and bustle of the season & make a list of the things you want to do for the holidays, you will see the things most important to those you love. So, when invites come, you know what you can and cannot do with the time you have during the holiday season. Remember,  “Holidays” means “Holy days”–so keep each day special with those you love. Cherish each moment.

Embrace the holiday spirit: Have a focus on the meaning of the season–giving, being like Jesus, spending time with family. Create special traditions to truly embrace the holiday season—see my other posts on traditions. Go out and pick an angel off an angel tree & wrap up the spirit of giving. Purchase a special book on the nativity or have a special night where you watch it with your family. Make the season memorable.

Remember this key thing—what do your children really want for Christmas? This will eliminate many of the $$ stress. According to child experts, what children really want more than anything else during the holidays are: 1. Relaxed and loving time with family  2. Realistic expectations about gifts  3. An evenly paced holiday season  4. Family traditions   taken from http://counseling.eku.edu/dealing-holiday-stress-0

Just Breathe: Take a moment and take a breath. When you are feeling overwhelmed by the foods you need to bake or the presents you need to make—take a breath.

Give the gift of gratitude: Give people what they truly need–praise, appreciation and the gift of a grateful heart. Call, Email, Write cards to those you love and include something you love about them.

Hope these ideas help you make your holidays a little more Merry & Bright

Love and Peace to you  -H

Give because WE have been given much

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This time of year makes me truly reflect on the many things I am grateful for. I think my heart gets to a place of deeper meaning, of stepping more outside of myself and wanting to do more for others. I think we all begin to feel this sense of holiday spirit. We gather with our families, grateful to have family. We see fall colors and are grateful to be given the gift of seeing. We see the seasons change and are grateful for change within our own lives. We sit together and give thanks.

I know for me, I especially want to do more, to serve, to be an instrument in God’s hands, so I decided that I wanted to create a list of opportunities for all of us to GIVE, because WE have all been given much.  I hope you will look at this list and find an opportunity or two that your family can embrace together. I hope you will find a little more service this holiday season, so when you are sitting down with your family, your heart will be even more full of giving, of love and grateful for the abundance in your own lives.  Peace to all of you this beautiful holiday season.

Some fun ideas to share with your families:  Spread the LOVE. If there are some ideas you like—share them with your friends and family and make the chain of LOVE even bigger.

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Samaritan’s Purse: Operation Christmas Child.  I LOVED this idea because it is not hard to do, benefits children around the world and will bring smiles to all who open.  You literally fill a shoebox with small gifts for children and then send it. You can even pay a little extra $ to track it and discover the destination it is going. I think it would be a great project to do with your family just before Thanksgiving. The drop off dates are just before Thanksgiving Nov 16-23. Check out the link to this great project. http://www.samaritanspurse.org/operation-christmas-child/pack-a-shoe-box/

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Create No-Sew Fleece Blankets for groups like Project Linus, Wrap them in Love, Stitches from the Heart, Binky Patrol to name a few.

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Make cards to send some LOVE: make cards for kids in the hospital http://www.cardsforhospitalizedkids.com/make-cards.html  Write a letter to a woman with breast cancer at http://www.girlslovemail.com or fill out a letter online to servicemen at http://www.forgottensoldiers.org/write-a-soldier/

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Donate items for The Hugs Project: They are looking for a variety of items including handmade christmas ornaments and stockings, food items, socks, etc. They create care packages for troops http://www.thehugsproject.com   here is a link to the full item list of what they are looking for http://www.thehugsproject.com/care-package-items/

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SoleHope: Makes shoes out of jeans for Kids in Uganda. http://www.solehope.org/who-we-are/

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Make a dog treats for a local shelter: here is a recipe from the Humane Society http://www.humanesociety.org/issues/eating/recipes/animal_treats/bowser_biscuits.html

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Make place mats or decorate lunch bags for Meals on Wheels http://www.doinggoodtogether.org/bhf/blog/six-ways-to-help-meals-on-wheels  Make sure you contact your local area to find out their specific needs.

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Make something homemade to help: Here is a list of handmade items that are accepted by a variety of charities.  http://www.handcraftingwithlove.net/charity/hcharity.html

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Make a bird feeder to feed the birds in your backyard–that is giving too!  Here are some directions: http://www.marthastewart.com/270700/pinecone-bird-feeder

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Well, I hope these ideas get you started to giving of yourselves even more during the upcoming holiday seasons. Remember, it is easier to give with a grateful heart.

Peace to you. -H

What do you want for your LIFE!!

I heard on a podcast recently a great thought that I wanted to share with all of you…it only makes sense, we always ask, “What do you want for Christmas,” “What do you want for your birthday,” “What do you want for your wedding”…I think we should take this questioning and ask ourselves WHAT DO YOU WANT FOR YOUR LIFE!!

I understand this is a very loaded question for many, but if you make it as easy as every other question above, WOW, what our worlds would look like!! We would look at our lives in small questions, close goals, simple things that we wish for our life right now. Think about it, when someone asks you a sincere request for an answer for something you would like, for say, your birthday, you genuinely take a moment and can think of something you would like or wish for.

Now, if you could NOT look at your life like a big, huge puzzle that doesn’t have all the pieces yet and begin to look at it like a wish you would make for a Christmas or birthday present, what a gift that would be for your life.

Think about it right now!! What would you wish for? What little desires would bubble up to the surface?

Okay, so now I am going to give you a couple of ideas to help you realize these hidden wishes…

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Wish upon a star: Tonight, or the next star filled night, I want you to go outside and look up to the sky. I want you to see all the sparkling white lights that are begging you to make a wish. Pick out a few of the brightest looking stars and begin to make wishes. Say them out loud so your heart hears them. Point to them and begin to go within and find those lost gems inside that want to be free. Let your mind wander and find those thoughts and ideas that you are the most drawn to for your life.

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Wishing Cake: One other idea. Go to the grocery store and buy yourself a wishing cake. You could also make your own. It doesn’t have to be big, just big enough to put in a number of candles. Now, take it home and line it with a couple rows of candles. As your light them begin to ponder things you would like to wish into your life. As you begin to think of each wish, say it out loud and blow out a candle.

These ideas should get you seeing and believing in wishing for the things you really want for your life.

Another idea: Make it a family affair and have everyone take turns wishing on stars and candles. It would be fun to hear one anthers wishes, hopes, dreams and help them to realize them for their life.

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Yoko Ono had an idea: A Wishing Tree…Write your wish on a piece of paper. Hang the paper on the wishing tree. Ask a friend to do the same. Keep wishing.

Happy wishing. -H

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