The ‘Golden Lists’

ImageFor Mother’s Day I took the day and spent the entire day lounging with my little family. It was the best Mother’s Day yet!! There is something in gifting yourself a day, not feeling pulled or manipulated into having to be somewhere else. I wasn’t selfish about it, I just gifted my husband’s mom an earlier Mother’s Day dinner and figured I see my mom every day (since she lives with us), so I decided to take the day and do nothing but be with my two favorite people. It was priceless, reading sweet letters they wrote me, enjoying meals together and then just popping in a few good movies that we thought would be enjoyable. It was a touch of relaxation and togetherness that we all needed.

One of the movies we enjoyed was called, The Ultimate Life. My favorite part—‘The Golden List’– I loved seeing a man wave his finger in the air as if writing a letter to God, thanking him for at least 10 things from the day!! Sure, we have all heard over and over about the gift of gratitude, but you can never hear it enough. I find that when I am not keeping a gratitude journal or golden list—my life definitely shifts and things are tougher. There is a key in having an attitude of gratitude, so ‘the golden list’ was a good twist.

 

ImageTO SEE: This especially rang true when I heard the following story that was shared by my sister. My sister has been going through a divorce & it has been tough on her whole family, so she was humbled by the following experience. My sister works in an eye clinic & a women came in for a scheduled appointment, she was about my sisters age (34) and as they sat and chatted in the waiting room my sister realized that this woman too was divorced and had a son that she was raising. They talked about the challenges of going through divorce, especially with children, but my sister was struck with a grateful heart when she heard this woman’s son was autistic. My sister couldn’t even fathom how it would be to raise a child with autism and be divorced. My sister was grateful to have two healthy kids. My sister watched the woman go in for her appointment and wondered why she was in their office. Most of the people who visit the eye clinic are in for cataracts, meds for vision problems because of old age, etc. but this was a young woman.

Further into the visit my sister sat in on part of the woman’s visit as the doctor told this woman she would never be able to drive again. The woman had a vision disorder that took over most of her eyes, so it would be like having two nickels covering your eyes and you could only see slightly from your peripheral vision. My sister’s heart sank again for this woman. How could she raise a child, especially an autistic child and not be able to see or drive.

As my sister shared this story, everyone’s heart broke a little at the thought of how this woman would be able to handle such a trauma. It made us all realize how blessed we are & it was a definite item on our ‘golden list’ before bed last night…”the gift of sight’

 

 

ImageTO RIDE: This is a personal story that happened last week while I was bike riding with my eleven year old daughter. My daughter struggles sometimes with gratitude, so I find myself on occasion sharing stories, insight, life lessons, hoping they will sink in eventually. While we were biking my daughter started to get mad, frustrated and started yelling, “this is so stupid. I hate this!” I have a really hard time with negativity and poor attitudes, so I chimed her on, “You can do this, we are more than half way. You are doing great.” She continued with the complaints, so while we were riding I shared with her a story of a close family friend. This is what I told her..”Kate, you need to focus on being grateful that you can even ride your bike, that you have strong legs to bike and dance and walk…we had a guy we knew who was struck with an illness and was going to loose one of his legs and you know what happened?” Kate begin to wonder, “what?” she inquired solemnly. “He decided if he was going to loose his leg that he was going to enjoy his last ride & biked all the way to the hospital where they were going to amputate it. He knew that would be his last ride with both of his legs. Can you imagine how he felt? I want you to bike and feel your strong body and be grateful that you can ride, that this is not your last.” She was quiet the whole rest of the way home.

 

ImageWhat a humbling thought. We take so much for granted, even just being able to walk, to see, to hear, to taste yummy food, to be free…free to pray, free to read any book, free to your own opinion. We are given so many gifts each day and we fail to miss them if we don’t take the time to look around, to truly take in the gifts, to get grateful and make a special ‘golden list.’

What will be on your golden list for today?

Are you going to look at your fingers differently & admire how they can type, mold bread dough, hold your child’s little hands, turn the key in your car, plant flowers, feel textures.

Are you going to look at what you see differently…are you going to enter a shopping store through the garden center to see the beautiful details, are you going to walk through your yard and look deeply at the colors, are you going to take the time to see the stars or a sunset or just gaze into someone’s eyes that you love.

Are you going to look at moving your body differently…are you going to stop putting off that bike ride or go on a walk at lunch, what about walking to work or the grocery store, what about that exercise class you have been putting off because you will feel silly—move before it gets harder, don’t take movement for granted, get out and take your kids on a walk or run, appreciate all the details within that lift your arm, that signal your brain to look left or right, the nerves that are so tiny, but make up a huge system that makes you move. Your body is a miracle.

Are you going to look at what you hear differently…don’t curse the morning bird song, listen and enjoy, when your baby cries be grateful she is breathing, listen to beautiful music that soothes your soul, appreciate the artists that were inspired to create such a gift for you to hear, listen to the waves crash, when it rains stop and listen to the patter on the roof, turn the television off and just listen to the silence, listen to the leaves move within the trees branches…

There are so many things to think about: the food we taste and enjoy, having running water, food in abundance, nature, learning and growth, laughter, inspired people, television shows that inspire good things, the quick access of so much information on the internet (there are so many good things–dont focus on the bad stuff :), new experiences, places to always aspire to go, life lists, people we haven’t met yet, lifelong friends, memories, beauty, sunlight, moonlight, animals, health, home, family, so many things…what will yours include? TODAY.

Hope this post gets you thinking about how you are blessed and gifted with so many golden promises.

Peace to you. -Heather

 

Think about it!!

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WOW!! I just found the above quote and it made me truly think and say WOW!! Think about it. What were you truly grateful for yesterday…today…tomorrow. We definitely take a lot for granted and this thought stopped me in my tracks. My mind began to race thinking about my prayers from yesterday, how I didn’t include my dog & how different my day would be right this minute.

Think about it!! Did you Thank God for your family, the love you share, your warm home, your healthy bodies, the car you drive, the plethora of food we can pick out at our grocery stores, the clothes that warm our bodies on a cold night, the heat that runs through our homes, the water that effortlessly comes when we ask, to be able to see our children smile, to hear the love of our life laugh, to smell the fresh air of fall…there are endless things that we take for granted. This quote was a good aha moment for me. I definitely will be going deeper with my thanks and gratitude today. How about you??

I wanted to add some additional images and thoughts to make you think about this beautiful season of gratitude.

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ImageThis was another aha quote for me. This is so true. Think about all the things we take for granted—when your husband holds your hand or opens the car door for you, the love he has when he looks into your eyes, the hug from your child, the warm shower you enjoy every morning, the amazing technology that is boundless and available, the people who lift and love you, having your family close, enjoying a bottle of clean water, turning on light, etc.

My husband went to visit a friend who lives with his family on a 200,000 acre cattle ranch, in the middle of Wyoming. They invited them into their home that was warmed only by firewood. The home they lived in was over 200 years old, they lived off the land—every bit of it. My husband mentioned to me how hard it would be to be dusty and dirty all the time, to work so hard from morning to night. We both sat grateful for our heated home, our running water, to be clean from a warm shower…

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 I hope we are always mindful of this thought. It is so easy to take for granted or abuse those we love. The other day my daughter was having a bit of attitude & not being very nice to me. When her Dad asked her why she was being so mean to me, she said, “because Mom is always there & I was just feeling stressed.”  Remember to be kind to those who are your family. LOVE, it is a blessing.

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This made me think of the thousands of people in the Philippines and the desperation of how tragedy affects so many. It makes me mindful of praying for those in need all around the world. We have no idea how blessed we are. We take it for granted.

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 This really reminds me of the beautiful saying in the movie Shall we Dance…We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”  Those who journey with you.

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 There are definitely moments where you feel so alone & I have always been truly grateful to look to the heavens and pray for guidance, direction, peace. Being able to pray, you are never alone.

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Happy month of gratitude and giving thanks.

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

get GRATEFUL!

ImageYesterday was a great reminder of the little things that pass us by and we forget to get grateful for them. I was a parent on one of my daughter’s field trips to a local storytelling festival. Imagine hundreds of children crammed on five buses on a very hot, sunshine day. We arrived at the festival and were escorted to a large tent. We sat and  listened to story after story, while every two minutes I would have one of my ten kids whisper to me “I am thirsty.”  I was in a sea of kids in every direction, no sign of water & no way to keep order, so all I could do is smile & whisper back, “I know, me too.” 

It was over an hour, but relief finally came when we were able to leave the tent. We seemingly ran from shade tree to shade tree on our way back to the buses when one kid noticed a drinking fountain. There was instantly a line of fifty plus kids. One by one they drank from the needed fountain. There seemed to be a small trickle of water, so the whining began, “There’s not enough water, its just a trickle.”  I stepped to the fountain and looked at the children, “a little trickle is better than nothing.” I smiled at the line of kids, “Some water is better than nothing, right.” They were all in agreement.

It was one of those teaching moments where we were all reminded of the importance of little things.  So, I sat down and thought of other funny moments where my gratitude was abundant at such little, funny things.

Finding a bathroom after a long day hiking.   Finding a bathroom when you need one (period). Smile. Smile. Finding a pen at the bottom of my purse when I had an inspired thought to write down.   Having one egg left when my daughter only wanted an egg on toast for breakfast.   Enjoying the last bit of milk with cereal.   Grabbing a bottle of purel after high-fiving 30 grade schoolers.   Having the ability to enjoy On-Demand when we missed an episode of America’s Got Talent.   Having the right amount of shampoo left in the bottle for one more wash.   Rolling into the gas station on empty.   Getting a warning ticket from a police officer.   One more pair of underwear when everything else is dirty & needs to be washed.  Finding money in a coat pocket in the middle of summer.   Making it in time for the previews of a movie.  Enjoying the last cookie in the package. Finding a piece of gum in your purse when you really need one. Reading the last page of a 500 page book.  Getting free podcasts.  Getting a lightning deal on Amazon & not being put on the waiting list.   Winning a Budweiser Snowboard when you don’t drink or snow board.  Smile. Smile. Having just enough chocolate chips for a batch of cookies…  So many little things to think about. Hope it puts a smile on your face.

So here is something for you to do…Do this…think of moments where you were relieved, satisfied with so little, happy to have a little bit of something to get you grateful.

ImageOne last funny thing…last night we were walking to a concert venue when we noticed this car in the middle of the center lane of the parking lot. We thought “that is a crazy place to park because no one can get through.”  We parked our car and then walked by the parked car sitting inches away from a very expensive convertible corvette.  My husband’s mouth dropped and he said, “Woah, I bet that car rolled down and luckily stopped before hitting this Corvette.” We both stood their in amazement at the possibility. My husband looked in the car window and sure enough the car was in neutral and had rolled, barely missing a very expensive wreck.  I only hope the owners of the rolled car see what almost happened and are very grateful for the amazing miracle of them not tragically hitting the expensive car.  A great moment to get GRATEFUL!! 

-Have an amazing day!!  Heather

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Seize the day…every blessed moment

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We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thornton Wilder

The fragility of life seems to be ringing all around me. The many things we seemingly take for granted…so many sobering stories hit me with such a need to be grateful for every little detailed gift we receive each day. We don’t think about hugging our kids, or kissing them in their bed & not a hospital bed. We don’t think about the gift of strong knees that can run or a happy outlook that keeps our day filled with joy.

These are the stories that have been ringing in my ear the last couple of days. Maybe they will help you stop for a moment and ponder the many blessings we take for granted…

Friends and neighbors were all praying, cheering, texting and conveying their need and support for Justin Bieber to visit a local seven-year-old girl who is struggling with her third round of Leukemia. Everyone waited in anticipation to receive a picture of Justin with this little girl in the hospital the night of his concert. Thank you Justin!                       It was a very sobering thought looking at this little girl with sunken eyes, dark circles, life slowly drifting away and thinking about what her mother must be going through in trying to give comfort, hope and faith for her daughter’s young life. I wondered how I would handle my nine-year-old grappling with such an illness. I thank God for my healthy daughter and send prayers of hope to this young family.

The very next day I heard another story about a woman with two young children who had got a babysitter to go on a bike ride one afternoon with her husband. She had a small bike wreck, her helmet had a dent the size of an orange, that left her paralyzed from the neck down. I instantly thought of the heartache you would feel not being able to hug your children, to wrap your arms around your husband, to skip down a path with your little ones, to make them breakfast, to hold a book and read them stories. My heart broke for this women, for the very thought of what she could and could not do, the depression she would deal with, the moments where you would miss your life while striving to embrace your new existence. How hard it must be to embrace an existence that leaves you immobile, fragile, feeling worthless and unable to do so many things. I can’t imagine. I pray for her family.

Then, if that was not enough heartache, my little neighbor came over and shared a story about a funeral she had just been to. It was for a mother of six children who had gone in for knee surgery. She returned home. One day she began to feel ill, yelled to her son to get his father. She looked at her husband and told him she felt like she was dying and passed out. She had a blood clot get into her lungs and she was gone. The family was left to miss her.

You just never know when or how or what will be your time. These stories shook me to my core and in sharing them I hope they give you a moment of sobering existence into the charmed life you have at this moment. Embrace your children, kiss your loved ones, dance in the kitchen, go outside, sing, smell the fresh air, breathe, yell, play, live your life to its best. Take each moment and cherish it, find every happiness possible in the little things that make life big!

Live your best day!! your best moment!

God bless these families in all they do. -Heather

Grace isn’t a little prayer you chant before receiving a meal.  It’s a way to live.                         ~Attributed to Jacqueline Winspear

Give the gift of gratitude

Imagine…One evening you gather your family around the dinner table and celebrate life with a little cake. Not just any cake, a gratitude cake.

This cake is going to help your family remember the wonderful things within your lives. You will put the cake in the center of the table and light a candle in the middle of the cake. As the candle burns everyone will take a turn sharing something they are grateful for within their life…a highlight from the day, friends they appreciate, stories of kindness, little things they love, moments with family, etc. Then after everyone has shared in the gift of gratitude, the candle has melted down and the wick is out, end with a little piece of cake.

This will be a beautiful gift to bring your family together. Enjoy your time together.

Give Thanks during the month of thanksgiving.

Gratitude Challenge

My first post is about gratitude. I know everyone is talking about gratitude, but I am not sure anyone is actually taking it to heart. So, I am going to put a challenge out there to anyone who would like to join.

THE GRATITUDE CHALLENGE…

November is the month of giving thanks and we often neglect to take the time between the hustle of the holidays to give thanks. I would like to invite you to take a gratitude challenge through the month of November.

Keep a journal or notebook by your bed and each evening before you go to sleep write down 3-5 things you are grateful for. That is it!!

This is also a wonderful exercise for kids. Gather your family around your bed and ask each person what they are grateful for & keep a family gratitude journal.

It is a small thing that will make a big difference. You will feel more connected, grateful, loving, happy and truly be in the spirit of giving thanks during the season of Thanksgiving.

Here are some ideas to get you thinking…grateful for my healthy family, my breath, that I can walk and run, have food readily available at a grocery store, warm home, warm showers, clean drinking water, fingers that can write, to be able to go to school, parents, to be able to see and hear, for friendships, for pets, books to read, inspired people, hugs, someone to love, favorite foods, music, freedoms, sunsets, stars, the sun, to be creative, to have a talent, nature, religion, to make my own choices, the gift of life, etc.

Happy gratitude!
Please do the 30 day challenge and let me know how it goes. I would love to hear your comments. Let me know if you felt more happy, connected, thankful.
Have a beautiful Thanksgiving.