Turning Points

crossroad-path-in-lavender-meadow1“At every turning point of my life, I can see your smiling face and my teary eyes.” -SB

Googled “Life Turning Points” and this is what came up: A Turning Point is a critical time in your life where big decisions could lead to big change, both in work and in life.

OR another point of view The idea of turning points in our lives is a powerful one. It’s the idea that at a certain point, a big event happens that changes your life irrevocably. -huffingtonpost

Some turning points are conscious, others less so…But all involve turning away from one path, and towards another. And they shape the self that you experience and define as “you,” along the way. -Psychology today

My husband and his six sisters have been facing a rather big turning point for the past week. There Dad that is 71 has been diagnosed with an extremely rare disease (one in one and a half million people) that is eating his brain at a rapid rate and stealing his life from them. It came out of nowhere and has been a very heavy and tragic time that has humbly brought them together, but has also left them feeling many why’s. They are at a daily turning point of questioning God; wondering why their Dad has to suffer more and more each day; watching people come and go with sorrowful goodbye’s, yet the family still trying to get through the shallow breaths of death each night. He is on the brink of death and at one point just asked them to let him die. It has been dementia on steroids, leaving them all with an empty shell of a man at points, hallucinating the next and then completely lucid. My husband has walked in on him a few times & his body is in motion as if stringing a fishing rod & even biting the line off with his teeth. It is a horrible disease that quickly takes over and it has been a rollercoaster of emotion for everyone.

Each day has been different for each one of the family member’s who stay up all night watching…waiting…wondering when he will take his last breath. They all wonder where he goes when he seems to just be a shell. One day one of his daughter’s who had not slept and was running on a very emotionally empty tank had a psychotic episode and the hospital almost admitted her to the psyche ward for her erratic behavior. She was at a turning/tipping point of her overall experience. She had to step back and have family members force her to sleep, to bring her back to reality, so she could be present as her Dad passes.

The family has been each dealing with their own turning points in different ways. My husband is almost like the father to all of his six sisters. He always has been. He is in the middle of three older and three younger sisters. He is the only boy and they have always relied on him over their own Dad, so nothing is new to him. This is just a different level of a turning point—he is holding their hands each day as they express their feelings, their fears, their needs. His emotional tank is running low, but each day is a turning point of how he will handle each situation with care. He is learning more about himself, more about selfless love, more about unconditional love and servant leadership. I called him and expressed my deep love and appreciation for the man he is & admire how hard he is trying to serve everyone involved. He is better than me. I could not do what he is doing each day.

Turning points have different viewpoints. [Think of yourself standing at a crossroad of two paths–two different viewpoints or life turning points] I may step back from one emotional road & admire how someone else is traveling it. I try to take it in and see it from someone else’s perspective and hope that when I am in the midst of traveling a similar road, that I could handle it with some sort of grace, dignity and selfless action. I can only hope.

Everyone has their journey & each path will be different. BUT Some turning points are conscious, others less so…But all involve turning away from one path, and towards another. And they shape the self that you experience and define as “you,” along the way. -Psychology today

May we each look at each step along our journey and find our best self. May we always seek to learn, grow and strive to be a better version of ourselves along the way.

Peace to all today—Especially my sweet husband and his sisters. Bless you all through this journey. I know it has been a beautiful, but very hard and painful road. xoxoxo

“The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt.”  -Max Lerner

Because I Can!

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Yesterday I had a dear friend drop by who was having a bad day and needless to say I think anyone would understand, her mom had just died a couple weeks ago. I gave her a big hug and my heart sank at the thought of losing someone so dear.

We began to talk about feelings and emotions and she expressed how she wished she could of..should of..and I could only imagine how she felt. I had not lost a mother.

I did have an aha moment after our conversation. I put myself in her place and tried to feel how it would be if I was unable to call or text or chat with my mom and dad. It put into perspective how short life is & how we often get stuck thinking we can tell someone we love them tomorrow, or have breakfast next week or stop by there house and visit another time. Our conversation made me feel the urgency to reach out now, not tomorrow. You never know when you will never be able to have those heart felt moments, those conversations you wish you would have taken the time to have, to record their voice so you will never forget it, to hug them & know you did all you could to love them while they were here.

After she left I did a couple of things–I jumped on my email and I wrote my parent a note and told them I wanted to share a few thoughts and feelings of what I would miss & what I love about them ‘because I can.’  It was an emotional write. I got teary eyed thinking of the little things I would miss most.

Then, I sent a text to my husband’s 6 sisters who have a beloved mother that I know needs to hear and feel of their love. I then sent my mother-in-law a note of love…because I can!

I know one day those near and dear will have moved on to another life & I don’t want to have regrets or should have, could have feelings. I am sure when some one passes you have those feelings no matter what, but this conversation made me stop for a moment, drop the to do lists and send some love from my heart.

So, ‘because you can’ send some love notes to those you love because you never know. Things can change in a moment.

Peace to you today.  -H

Show THANKS in GIVING

The beautiful week that is often over shadowed by Black Friday and Cyber Monday ads is upon us and my gift I hope to bestow upon you is this…to do one simple thing to show your thanks. How? Here you go…

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For your FAMILY:  A simple gesture of LOVE. Write a note, a line, a blurb of something you LOVE about them. This morning I have been creating two flip books for two of my siblings. I have two siblings that were born between this giving holiday, so we decided to create a bday book to celebrate them. It was humbling to see my parents notes and my other five siblings write memories, send pictures, send funny thoughts, feelings, etc. about two great people. I think you always appreciate family, but you definitely take them for granted. It was beautiful to read the memories and see these people through other lenses. What a gift. I don’t think we can open our hearts enough, even though sometimes it is harder than you think. So go beyond yourself this week, share a thought, a love note, a fun pic, something that connects you to those closest in your giving circle.

 

For your CHILDREN: Help them get in the habit of finding things to be grateful for. Each night we either write in a journal or share them out loud, at least three things we are grateful for from the day. Children are never too young to learn gratitude.

Toddlers are by definition completely egocentric. Still, children as young as 15 to 18 months can begin to grasp concepts that lead to gratitude, says Lewis. “They start to understand that they are dependent; that Mom and Dad do things for them,” she says. In other words, toddlers comprehend that they are separate human beings from their parents, and that Mom and Dad often perform actions to make them happy (from playing peekaboo to handing out cookies) — even if kids that age can’t articulate their appreciation. By age 2 or 3, children can talk about being thankful for specific objects, pets, and people, says Ryan. By age 4, children can understand being thankful not only for material things like toys but for acts of kindness, love, and caring.

How to Teach it? Work gratitude into your daily conversation. Lately, we’ve been trying to weave appreciation for mundane things into our everyday talk — When you reinforce an idea frequently, it’s more likely to stick. One way to turn up the gratitude in your house is to pick a “thanking” part of the day. Two old-fashioned, tried-and-true ideas: Make saying what good things happened today part of the dinnertime conversation or make bedtime prayers part of your nightly routine.

By learning gratitude, they become sensitive to the feelings of others, developing empathy and other life skills along the way, says Barbara Lewis, author of What Do You Stand For? For Kids ”On the flip side, kids who aren’t taught to be grateful end up feeling entitled and perpetually disappointed,” says Lewis.     -Parents.com article

Jeffrey Froh, PsyD research shows there are plenty of good reasons to try to teach gratitude  He recently asked one group of middle school students to list up to five things they were grateful for every day for two weeks, while a second group recorded daily hassles and a third only completed a survey. “The gratitude group experienced a jump in optimism and overall well-being,” reports Froh. “Furthermore, they were more satisfied with school even three weeks later.” Likewise, a Harris Interactive survey of more than 1,200 kids between the ages of 8 and 18 found that those who were grateful for what they had were also more generous, even if they were fairly materialistic.  -Familycircle article

Be a Role Model of Gratitude: As parents we need to understand that we can’t expect our children to be grateful, if we are not examples of this ourselves. Find gratitude in the little things and you will also find it in the bigger things.

Say Thank you: Just the simple act of helping your children learn to say thank you will make a big difference in the energy they carry and the people they touch with their smile.

Explain to children why gratitude is important: The strategy: Explain why it’s important to be grateful when someone helps you out. “Kids sometimes have the belief that people ‘should’ do things for them,” says Froh, “so it’s helpful to point out that people’s kind deeds are often done out of the goodness of their hearts.” -Familycircle

Gratitude tree: I have seen this done with a simple tree made to hang on the fridge & paper leaves were then attached, an entire wall created into a tree in your home, something to add to the dinner table, etc. You could buy silk leaves, use paper tags, stickers…the ideas are endless. Just google, “gratitude tree” and look at the many images and ideas you could create. Have fun with this. When family comes to visit, have them write something for the tree. Have your children create a special leaf each day

Write Thank you notes: The strategy: Write appreciative letters to the important people in our lives. “Acknowledging your feelings on paper makes them more conscious and concrete,” says Robert Emmons, PhD, author of Thanks! How the New Science of Gratitude Can Make You Happier (Houghton Mifflin)   -Familycircle

Find a goodwill project: Whether it is volunteering at a local charity, collecting old toys for a toy drive, sending post cards to soldiers or making blankets for someone in need–find something that your whole family can get excited about.

Here is another idea I found: “We put our change in a ‘Pennies from Heaven’ jar,” says Barbara Owens, mother of four, ages 10, 12, 16, and 20, in Manalapan, New Jersey. “Every time something devastating happens in the world, we sit down and talk about how blessed we are, then send a contribution.”

 

Hope this helps you find one simple thing you can ‘GIVE’ to those you LOVE.

-Peace & blessings to you this holiday.  -H

 

 

STOP for just a moment & look around you.

ImageIn all the rushing to make a beautiful thanksgiving—finding the best way to roast, brine, deep fry…the perfect turkey, whipping up dishes and dishes of yummy goodness, I beg of you to stop for a moment & look around you. Look at the people in your life, the stories you tell, the history you have together & take a moment to hold hands & have grateful hearts. We have so much to be thankful for—even if you just have a warm roof over your head, freedom to pray, an abundance of food that makes you full, the laughter of your children enjoying their cousins, clean water to drink, pies of every kind, and most of all, the children in your life, the love held within your family, the connections—one of the many reasons to give thanks. 

Happy week of THANKS.

 

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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

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

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