We are Fearfully and Wonderfully made.

ImageWe are fearfully and wonderfully made.

I just had a tear filled conversation with my mother-in-law about one of her grandchildren who are in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit). She was filling me in on the details that have happened the last couple of days—spinal tap, surgery to put in a pic line that feeds the little one through a small tube, pneumonia, lung collapse…

It was heart wrenching to imagine this little child that was born not quite a week ago, going through such pain. Then I envisioned her mother (my sister-in-law), the new mother of triplets and the pain I know she is going through, feeling like she isn’t bonding to this child, while the others are doing well, wondering what she is doing wrong as a mother, looking at the nurses with envy as they speak to her baby and having thoughts of her baby possibly dying…

Then my thoughts went to my mother-in-law who had lost two sets of twins after they had been born. I asked my mother-in-law how she was doing. She broke down and said, “We are trying to be positive. It is hard, but Lacey (her daughter) doesn’t want to be alone and neither do I, so we are sticking together through this. Everything will be alright.”

She was holding on to hope and faith, like any good mother, knowing in the back of her mind it is essentially not up to her. That anything can and will happen. She had been there many times.

Yesterday my sister-in-law was having an especially tough day, so I sent her a letter and some inspiring quotes to post around her house to help her remember she is not alone and that this experience is a time for growth, hope and faith. One of the images was the one above–I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

When I saw this image it reminded me of the humility we need to have through life. Every day, every moment is a gift that we are given. Life experiences may be scary or cause us to be fearful, but through those moments we learn so much. Through these experiences we learn the important things like faith, hope, true love, empathy, gratitude, sacrifice, etc. We learn the lessons our soul seeks to devour. It is through these faith building moments that we know we are not alone and that God is there to hold our hands. That fear can turn to an ah-filled wonder and that is where we find grace and humility.

I want to send her my best wishes and blessings. Please send her a blessing if you have a moment. Thank you.

Blessings to you today.  -Heather

Are you important?

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“When we love, we always strive to become better than we are. When we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better too.”  -Paul Coelho, The Alchemist

I pulled into a local supermarket and as I parked a young girl in her twenties approached the car next to me. I noticed she was in tears, I rolled down my window and asked her if she was okay, she hysterically responded about her boyfriend and how terrible he was to her.

Just then two elderly people (her grandparents) approached her and tried to calm her down. They were not exactly calm themselves. I patiently watched and noticed a small boy in the back seat. I continued to watch the situation, wondering what I could do. The couple noticed that I was concerned and began to share a few details. I listened and slowly got out of my vehicle to help. Many thoughts ran through my head as I surveyed my vehicle looking for anything that may help the situation.

I looked over at the young girl who continued to cry and I said, “You are beautiful, things will work out. Everything happens for a reason.” She graciously said thank you. The grandmother jumped in, “That is her problem, she is too pretty.” My heart sank and a deeper understanding filled me.  I shuffled through my purse looking for a business card and handed it to the young girl and told her to call me anytime for anything.  The older woman looked at me and said, “Are you important or something?” I was taken back, “No, I just like to help people. So please call me if you need a ride, help with your little boy, anything.”

I could tell the situation was calming down, so I left it at that. They were all very gracious.

When I walked away I thought about the comment, “Are you important or something.” The small gesture of giving someone a business card seemed to be a symbol of self-worth in this woman’s mind. I tried to put myself in the perspective of someone dealing with someone’s pain, trying to help her grand child, yet seemingly misunderstanding the deeper worth of a soul.

We often do not see our own value or personal worth, we see job titles, material trophies, the paths that seem to be lit with a seemingly brighter light. We wish and hope for more, thinking that it will help us feel better about our lives.

We forget that we are divine. We forget that we need to go through tough experiences that will bring us closer to our spirit, our inner joy and connection. We forget that we are given everything we need, we arrive happy, but it is our choice what we do with that happiness. Do we nurture it through self-love, giving and gratitude or do we starve it by seeking happiness outside of us??

Ask yourself…Are you important? How do you feel when you ask yourself that question?

Do you look at your life and feel worth (you feel you are moving in a direction to be your personal best, to have a worthwhile life) or do you feel weighed down by life (things seem to be an energy drain, you feel heavy and unfulfilled).

During this month of February, I urge you to take the time to step back and evaluate where you are on a personal level. Do you feel love toward yourself?

Here is a simple exercise to get your feelings flowing… Mirror Mirror

Precious jewel, you glow, you shine, reflecting all the GOOD things in the world. -Maya Angelou

1. Take this work seriously. You could easily just walk away and avoid your feelings for fear of what you will face. Do not walk away from this activity. Take this seriously.

2. Be honest with your feelings.

3. You can use a full body mirror, a wall mirror or a hand mirror for this activity.

4. When you talk to yourself, make sure you look into your eyes. There is a needed connection on a deeper level.

5. Look yourself in the eyes and say, “I love you”

Write down any thoughts and feelings. Be honest. This may be very hard for you to do, so look within for any thoughts or feelings that will help you with the inner work you need to do. (ie maybe you do not like how heavy you look, so you have a hard time looking at yourself…notice these feelings)

6. Ask yourself, “What do you see?”

Write down any thoughts and feelings.

7. Ask yourself, “Who are you?”

Write down any thoughts and feelings.

8. Then say, “I love you just as you are.”

Write down any immediate thoughts or feelings.

9. Finish with, “I deserve love.”

Write down any thoughts and feelings.

10. How do you feel? Did any surprising emotions or thoughts come up for you?? Did you cry? Were you honest with your thoughts and feelings?

Make sure you take the time to journal any thoughts or feelings that came up for you. You may need to work on processing your feelings through self love, acceptance or forgiveness. You may need to go deeper to understand why you had these feelings and explore the reasons.

If you did not have any thoughts or feelings…make the statements again. Look yourself in the eyes and tell yourself, “I love you.” Sit with this statement and repeat it if necessary until you have a reaction of any kind.

If you had loving personal thoughts, embrace these warm feelings and see their strength and beauty.

If you had a mix of loving and hurtful thoughts, embrace the good and seek understanding with the rest.

Nurture and love yourself through this process.

Lots of love to you.   -Heather

Believe in the LOVE that surrounds you

Image“Faith is taking the first step even when you can’t see the whole staircase.”  -Martin Luther King Jr.

Belief, Faith, Divine timing, Destiny…there are many words that describe the feelings you need when something shakes your world. I call it, “A Faith building step.”

My husband just found out last week that his company is being sold and there is not a position for him. Moments like this can get a little scary for anyone, but I have a little history with my husband in a similar situation and it took him to a dark edge that nearly took his life, so it does rattle me a bit. But, I remembered a story about a couple who had just lost their job & they decided to share in a toast to the future and not tell their families. I decided to take that route. It makes sense to not want the energy of people worried, concerned and asking you if you’ll be okay. Who wants that?? So, we are stepping out into the unknown, having faith that there are doors that will open and staircases that will appear.

It is in moments like these that we have the true opportunity to grow, to let go of our ego, our must have’s, our spending habits, our stability and hold to the hope of something greater. Something greater than us all, that has the ability to inspire decisions, to guide and direct, to teach something necessary, to help us learn about ourselves on a deeper level. It is our choice to look at the good with the bad and make the most of our journey. I am looking at this opportunity as a new adventure, possible places that will be filled with new experiences, new friends, new changes. Change can be hard, but it helps us grow and in any growth we learn to have a little more faith, to believe in divine coincidences, to trust that everything will be exactly what we need.

Here is a beautiful story that perfectly illustrates our need to believe and have faith in the designer of our lives…

On a remote airstrip almost a half century ago, a small plane was preparing to taxi into position for takeoff. An unexpected storm system was approaching with heavy rain and gusty winds. It had already started raining and the wind was picking up. Suddenly, a lone figure, with his coat over his head in a futile attempt to keep dry, ran from the terminal to the plane, his silhouette outline by lightning, the wind now almost tearing his coat from his grasp. Upon seeing the man on the runway the surprised pilot shut down the twin engines and opened the door. The man came on board, had a rather heated exchange with the pilot, and then turned to the eight passengers. “My name is Walter Beech,” he said, “I am the designer of this airplane and I supervised its construction. I know what it can do and what it can’t do. This plane is not designed for weather this severe and I urge you to get off with me now. I know your destinations are important and this represents an inconvenience, but please, don’t remain on the plane.”

The pilot interrupted angrily. “I have been flying this aircraft for years and I, too, know what it can do and what it can’t do. If we avoid further delay we can get ahead of this storm. I urge you to stay on board. I will get you to your destinations.”

One woman stood and walked forward to get off the plane with Walter Beech. The two watched as the plane left the ground, climbing several hundred feet. Then what began as a slow roll quickly became an ugly, uncontrollable spin as the aircraft fell from the sky. All aboard were lost.

The woman standing with Walter Beech was Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of the President of the United States. She would later tell reporters, “I felt it wise to take advice of the designer and builder of the airplane.”

God always sees clearly what is best for us. But there will always be options. There will bo those other voices enticing us down paths that may bring immediate gratification, but that may ultimately bring sadness and despair. I urge you to listen to God’s advice. He’s the designer, the only one who can get you to where you’re supposed to be. -Dan Stuecher (When I’m needing a fresh Start, pg 78)

 
I know this faith building step in our lives will take us to a new destination where we need to be. It may be uncomfortable, may be filled with ups and downs, but in the end, I am walking with a knowing that it is just what we need at this moment in our lives.
This knowing helps me feel that there is always a loving guidance that surrounds us.
I will keep you posted on our journey ahead. Wish us blessings, guidance and love. Thank you.
Best wishes in all you do today.  -Heather

Ways to Fall in LOVE with your Life

SimpleWomanonRugIn the true spirit of the month of LOVE, I thought it would be a good idea to not only fall in LOVE with relationships, but with the life we are living at this moment. Here are some thoughts on falling in love with the life you have.

See the BEAUTY all around you–“A person should hear a little music, read a little poetry and see a fine picture everyday in order that worldly cares may not obliterate the sense of the beautiful which God has implanted in the human soul.”  -Johann Von Goethe

Be still. Get QUIET–“We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature-trees, flowers, grass-grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence…we need silence to be able to touch souls.”  -Mother Teresa

Do a little SOUL searching“Anytime we catch a glimpse of soul, beauty is there; anytime we catch our breath and feel “how beautiful!” The soul is present.” -Jean Shinoda Boten, MD

Find a little JOY–“Always leave enough room in your life to do something that makes you happy, satisfied or even JOYOUS.” -Paul Hawken

Find COMFORT in knowing you are not alone–“Ever now and again take a good look at something not made with hands–a mountain, a star, the turn of a stream. There will come to you wisdom and patience and solace and above all, the assurance that you are not alone in the world.” -Sidney Lovett

BELIEVE in the GIFT of every day–“Life is a great and wondrous mystery and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here, right now. Don’t miss it.” -Leo Buscaglia

Believe that your LIFE is SACRED–“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” -Thornton Wilder

Blessed be the month of LOVE and the life you live be a beautiful reminder of the gifts you receive daily.  -Heather

Put a little LOVE in all you do.

Image“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.” – Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle

Sticking with the theme of LOVE for the upcoming, grand occasion of Valentines, I have put together some tiny things that we do around our house to show our LOVE. Hope these ideas spark other little ideas to spread love in all you do.

Keep them cuddly: warm up robes and towels when they get out of the bath or shower. Throw a cozy blanket in the dryer when someone just needs to be bundled.

Do something sweet: write a little note (on the napkin or a tiny card) for someone’s lunch–add a fun joke, a sweet treat they will enjoy or a tiny surprise that is unexpected.

Hand writing: When my little girl is nervous about something at school, I draw a heart on her hand to remind her that my love will always be with her.

Hearts & flowers: We are big Dasani bottle drinkers (don’t worry we recycle!) so I write messages on my families water bottles…hearts, flowers, their names, love notes, feel betters, etc.

Dedications: Dedicate a song while you are driving or buy a special song that reminds you of someone you love and share it with them.  (Some good ideas off the top of my head: Bruno Mars “Just the way you are”  Rihanna “We found Love”  Christina Perri “A Thousand Years”   Usher “Without You”   Harry Connick Jr ” We are in Love”   Train “Marry Me”   Colbie Caillat “I do”   Joy Williams “Charmed Life”)

Sign Language: Have a fun personal language that you share with each other. Our family does XO with our fingers or signs I Love You or infiniti hearts, you get the idea. Make your own and make it yours. The love will follow.

Nicknames: Have fun, loving nick names that you call one another.

Make food with love: blow kisses into the meals you make, make heart pancakes, heart shaped brownies, swirl your soup in heart shapes.

Basic Care: make them take their vitamins, drink lots of water and wear their seat belt. It is the funniest thing to watch my parents fight over taking their vitamins, but my Dad simply looks at my mom and says, it’s because I love you. Who can argue with that!

Love Notes: leave little notes of love and appreciation anytime and everywhere. Leave them on the bathroom mirror, the car window, computer screen, under a pillow, etc. A cute text says you care. A fun note taped to their toothbrush that says, you make me smile=LOVE.

Pray and give thanks: pray always with a grateful heart for the little things you receive every day…for running water, for good health, that your child made it home from school, that your husband has a job, that you can run, walk, see the blue sky.

Thank you: Write a nice note on the envelopes of your bills, or on an email to your service providers thanking them for the services you receive. Thank them that you have power, heat, the Disney channel!! smile. smile.

Affection: ALWAYS give hugs and kisses, special rendezvous and intimate getaways

Surround your family with good things: Having beautiful things around helps your heart sing. Your heart=LOVE. Have pretty music playing, buy a beautiful bouquet of flowers, have inspiring quotes posted throughout the house, allow lots of light in through the windows

Quality time: I can’t stress this enough!! Go on walks, have reading time together, play games and talk.

Connect: Everyone needs to feel connection in their life, so our relationships are key. Take the time to connect. I am going to include some good Q& A topics to discuss with those you love:

Connect Questions for the one you LOVE:

1. What is something that makes you feel good about yourself?

2. What are 5 things you want to do in your life?

3. Has there ever been anything you were afraid to do? How did you handle it?

4. Some of your favorite things?

5. What trait do you feel people like most about you?

6. Do you feel it is easy to make friends? Do you feel you have good friends?

7. Do you feel you like to be social or would rather be home? 

8. What is a truly great memory for you?

9. What does perfect mean to you?

10. What is a favorite gift you have received?

11. What would you like to do more of every day?

12. Answer this…I am happy when…

13. What do you love about your family?

14. What do you love most about your relationship?

15. Think of a tough time in your life…what did you learn from it?

16. Is there anything you worry about?

17. What do you desire most out of our relationship? (good things, things to work on)

18. If you could do anything, what would it be?

19. What is one thing you would change about your life? 

20. What would be your ideal Valentines day?

Connect Questions for you to ask your Kids:

1. What is your happiest memory? 

2. Why do you like being a kid? 

3. One word to describe you would be _______. 

4. What advice would you give your parents? 

5. If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? 

6. What do you like to do for fun? 

7. Tell about a funny time in your life. 

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Why? 

9. What is your favorite thing to do with your friends? 

10. What do you love most about your sibling (or being an only child)? 

11. What was the nicest thing you did for someone? 

12. What do you think you will be doing 10 years from now? 

13. What is your favorite thing to do in the summer? the winter?

14. What would be the ideal allowance? Tell me how you would use it. 

15. What do you think makes a person good-looking? 

16. Name two things we should do as a family on the weekend. 

17. What is the grossest thing you can think of?

18. What is something you love about your mom and dad?

19. What is your favorite vacation we have been on?

20. What are 5 things you would like to do by the time you are married? (or in your life)

Well, I hope these tiny ideas have inspired you to think of little things you can do to spread the love in your world.

Lots of LOVE to you and yours.    -Heather

1 Act of Random Kindness makes a difference

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Hello and hope all is well in your world!! Today I wanted to share one of my favorite weeks in the whole year…RAK (Random Acts of Kindness week). Each year the organization randomactsofkindness.org has a week that inspires people to break away from the norm and share kindness in the world. It is usually a week in February (the month of love–fitting). This year it is FEBRUARY 11th through the 17th!! So I wanted to share some ideas and getting you thinking and planning to do this with those you love. Make it a fun event—plan for it & share it with friends & family, get out and make a difference in your community, your neighborhood, your family, your world!

I was lovingly reminded that this RAK week was coming up as I was watching the sweet movie “Evan Almighty” with my little daughter. It reminded me as Morgan Freeman spelled out the words ARK…1 ACT of RANDOM KINDNESS will make a difference.

So, in the spirit of LOVE, HAPPINESS and making a DIFFERENCE, here are some thought and ideas to enjoy your RAK week…

If you have read my blog you know I have a nine-year-old daughter who is an only child and one of my greatest fears is that she is going to grow up and be selfish!! Especially after reading an article about Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson who was an only child and personally admitted how selfish he had been. Every red flag went up, Am I doing enough to help this little person think of others??? 

Ever since she was little we have done random acts of kindness…made brownies for the fire department, created hand made valentines for a local old folks home, handed out teddy bears to crossing guards, bought cookies for the McDonald’s employees…

I am always trying to think of ways to get our little family out of ourselves and doing something for someone else. Hopefully we are heading in the right direction, it is an ongoing, loving lesson for our lives. When we think of others, the world is better for it! Our family is better for it!

This last year (during RAK week ) was especially fun because we got others to celebrate RAK (Random Acts of Kindness) with some neighbor girls.  We made a 15 foot banner filled with kindness ideas kids could do & we hung it at their school. In the true spirit of RAK week I made a flyer and sent it to a large local email list in hopes that people would feel the giving spirit & it worked! I received a call from one of my neighbors (that I did not know very well) and she was filled with enthusiasm at the idea of RAK week!

She expressed how her 38th birthday was this particular week and that she decided she was going to take her family and do 38 random acts of kindness in celebration of her birthday!!.

Outstanding idea!

I saw her the next week at a school function and she lit up!! It was soo wonderful to see someone so excited to share in their experience. She told me how they handed out quarters to kids at a local hamburger restaurant so they could use the candy machines. They bought food for the people behind them in the drive-thru, they took a bunch of water bottles and handed them out at a local rec center…the enthusiasm was infectious. I loved it!! Then she got really quiet and she said, “but the best part of it all was that my son (who I struggle with) truly got in the spirit of giving. He is kinder today, he was writing notes to our family, he was moved more than anyone by this experience.”

That was the best part! She even said that he wanted to do the same thing for his birthday!

What a beautiful thing!!

If we can do one thing for our kids…it is to be an example of love, get out and do something random for someone else. Teach them to write thank you cards, help them each week think of some way to serve someone else. Make a dinner for someone in need, take a batch of brownies to someone you don’t know, say thank you to EVERYONE! It is truly the little things that make a big difference.

Here are some additional ideas from the RAK website and other sources:  Clean up graffiti, Donate used books to a library, Give care packs to the homeless (or a blanket), Share your talent of music with the elderly, Help someone with yard work or snow removal, Let someone go in line in front of you, Write a note of appreciation to a teacher, Mentor a child who needs a friend, Pay for a coffee for the person behind you at Starbucks, Return shopping carts, Thank your police or fire department with a fun note or treat, Write a letter or email to someone who made a difference in your life, Visit an animal shelter, Take a bag of dog or cat food to your local shelter, pick up trash at the beach or nearby nature trail or neighborhood, Send a nice note thanking a soldier, Be a designated driver, Give someone flowers, Visit someone who is sick, Collect canned food and give it to your local food bank, Donate $1 to your child’s favorite charity, Start a charity day at your work & give the money to a good cause, Help someone with their groceries, Give hugs, Leave a nice note for your local mail carrier, Thank your child’s bus driver or crossing guard, Plant a tree, Give compliments, Send something inspiring to those you have on your email list, Be a nice driver on the road, Take shorter showers this week, SMILE, Start a piggy bank for a cause, Share something yummy with coworkers, Say thank you to your school principal and office help, Tell your parents (or send a letter or email) how much you appreciate them & everything they’ve done for you, Let your staff leave a little early from work & thank them for all they do, give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs, Make valentine hearts for the elderly home, Give someone a “heart attack” on their door (bunch of paper hearts that say nice things), Invite someone new in the neighborhood over for dinner, Have your child take a bunch of fun stickers or suckers and hand them out when the final bell rings & remind everyone that it is RAK week, genuinely thank your waitress for doing such a good job, make and share kindness bookmarks or give them to the school library to give away, Leave a $20 in an envelope and leave it for someone in need, give freely, spread LOVE everywhere you can…

-Spread Love, Heather

–not sure who to credit the picture, but thank you.

Valentine ideas for those you LOVE

Purple heart in the handsSince Valentines Day is very close I wanted to make sure to create a fun list of thoughtful gift ideas to give to the ones you LOVE.  The following are some ideas I have done for my little family over the years, so I hope there will be something that will inspire you to LOVe those special people in your life.

Have a thought or theme that inspires your gift giving: One year I cut out about fifty paper stars and wrote, “For every Star in the Heavens, there is a reason I love you.”  I then wrote things I loved about my husband and hung the stars with fishing line all around our living room. I made a huge bed on our living room floor, we ate take-out, picnic style, had a warm fire, watched movies and had a wonderful evening.

Make something that is handmade or Personalized: One year I got a glass bottle and etched a message on the outside. Inside I had a special love note…Message in a bottle.  Another year I created a sheet that had things from the year my husband was born (#1 song on the charts, News Headlines, Best selling toy, candy, funny facts from the era). Make a cd of his favorite music, buy a basketball or football and have the kids sign and decorate it, etch a frame or a pair of goblets, beer or coffee mug, you get the idea. Make it personal and from the heart.

Share all the reasons you love them: Scream it! Sing it! write little notes and gift them in a jar, write them on a poster and hang it on the bedroom door. Whatever you do…Tell them you LOVE them.

Give them something special: Is there a hobby or collection they have? Mu husband had a father who collected toy cast iron cap guns, so he inherited the collection from his father. One year I found a small pistol to add to his collection. My husband also has a love of western movies (prob watching them with his father as a kid), so this year I found some fun replica coins from a brothel house (good for one night) & I am going to add sweet notes with each one & gift them in a neat jar with a good, western movie classic.

Do something sentimental: Make a Q & A journal to do together, then each evening or specific night of the week take some time, enjoy a special dinner and take the time to fill in the journal. Another idea that I have done that my husband loved—his mother’s cooking!! I took a day and went to his mother’s house and she shared all her secret family recipes, which I then put into a personalized cookbook with pictures, quotes and the special ingredients to all her yummy goodness.

Give a themed gift: What does your love enjoy doing? My husband enjoys triathlon racing, so one gift I gave him was a runners magazine, a waterproof iPod, a water bottle filled with hershey kisses, packaged in a nice workout bag with a towel. He also likes to BBQ so another gift I gave him was a nice set of BBQ utensils, a personalized apron and a grilling cookbook.  Make sure, no matter what you give, that you add some cheesy note to make them smile…something like…”Your Hot”  “You really know how to spice things up!” Have fun with it.

Make something yummy: Make a night of his/her favorite recipes, gift their favorite chocolate covered strawberries or make them a special batch of carmel pretzels. Whatever they love to eat, take the time to make it memorable.

The following are some fun gift ideas to make Valentines special for the Kiddos

Quality time: Make a Q & A journal to do with your kids. Take the time each week or each evening to talk, listen, and ask questions. This will be guaranteed quality time, with the questions leading to answers and stories that will be memorable.

Fun gift ideas:

Nail polish or lipgloss (in shades of pink and red) wrapped in a cute bag with a note that says “You shine.”

Personalized PJ’s or T-shirts: Use fabric paints, Tye dye or use iron on sparkles to make something personalized and all your own. A gift that will be appreciated.

Charm me: pick a cute charm with your child in mind, add a little necklace chain or bracelet and start a special charm collection for them. Add a little note why the charm reminded you of them. Every once in a while surprise them with a new charm that has a special meaning.

Give them something handmade: hair accessories, quilt, scarf, hat, a beaded animal, etc. Something handmade always says it is made with the heart.

Start something new: Give your child a fun apron with a special cooking lesson and coupons that include: make a cake together, make pancakes for Sat breakfast, make a spaghetti dinner for the fam… or you could give them a little garden kit with a package of seeds and a pot they can decorate.

Boo: the cutest plush dog. I am a sucker for stuffed animals, but I think this one would make any child smile. To personalize it, make a bead collar, add your child’s name or bandana. I got one of these darling dogs when my daughter was in the hospital, we took it home and beaded a collar and leash. It is adorable.  Here is the link for it on Amazon   http://www.amazon.com/Gund-Boo–Worlds-Cutest-Dog/dp/B006U4SHMS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1359059855&sr=8-1&keywords=Boo

One last FUN idea:  Make a fun fort out of a sheet and personalize it for your kids with iron on patches. Then the week of Valentines, put it up and surprise them. Have a fun pizza party in the fort. To make it extra special you could buy a small lantern & attach a note that says “you shine.” or “you light up my life.” Another fun detail, make a cute fleece pillow and attach a note that says “sweet dreams.”  It would be a Valentines to remember.

It’s the memories that count the most, so put some thought into the little, loving gestures you do for the ones you LOVE.  Hope these ideas help.

Good luck in spreading HAPPINESS and LOVE   -Heather

Lessons from If Only

Image“I have to tell you this and you need to hear it. I loved you since I met you, but I wouldn’t allow myself to truly feel it until today. I was always thinking ahead, making decisions soaked with fear… Today, because of you… what I learned from you; every choice I made was different and my life has completely changed… and I’ve learned that if you do that, then you’re living your life fully… it doesn’t matter if you have five minutes or fifty years. Samantha if not for today, if not for you I would never have known love at all… So thank you for being the person who taught me to love… and to be love. ”  -Ian Wyndham, If Only

Have you ever noticed the longer you have something in your life, no matter how special it is, it seems to be taken for granted.

Yesterday I was not feeling very well, so I took the day and relaxed with a couple of movies. I popped in a movie I had never seen before, If Only, with Jennifer Love Hewitt. It was an emotional ride, but a ride worth taking. It left me in tears thinking about the incredible man I am married to and thinking about how differently my life would be if he were not in it. I balled my eyes out even more. So, needless to say, I am writing my post today about learning to appreciate the one you LOVE.

The movie was a sweet reminder that no matter how well we think we are at appreciating those we love, we can always be a little better. It is a choice we make every day.

So, here are my thoughts inspired by the movie:

Be Present: (In the movie Ian was never present, too busy with work) Take the time to truly listen and care about one another. Ask questions, inquire about what is important in their life. No matter the time, how long you have known them, there are always going to be pieces to uncover. Be there for the good and the bad days. Love should be unconditional. People grow and change–seek to find something new and listen. Be interested in them and what is important to them.

Praise and Appreciate: (In the movie Ian tells her how much he loves her music) their work, their writing, their strengths, the little things they do for you. Get excited for one another for the positive things that happen in daily life. i.e. My husband was so excited when I told him that I just had my first UK follower on my blog. He was genuinely excited and that made me appreciate him even more. Thank the one you love for making your day a little better by just being there.

Try new things together: (In the movie Ian takes Samantha to do something she had always wanted to do, but was too afraid to try) Step out of your comfort, go do something. It doesn’t even need to be something that scares you—just something together. My husband’s father collected electric, lionel trains when he was a boy, so I knew my husband had a interest in trains because of his father. There was a train show last week, so I suggested we go. We had never been to anything like it our entire marriage. It was fun to see my husband look at some miniature train sets and think about his father. His eyes lit up as he said, “My Dad would have liked that.”

Open up and share new things: (In the movie Ian takes Samantha to some childhood places and shares some heartfelt memories with her) Share your hopes, dreams, wishes and heartaches. In sharing there ties a deeper connection.  This may be a good time to mention: Make a Couples Bucket list—see my blog post on this. Great way to connect!

Little things make a beautiful difference: (In the movie Ian gives Samantha a charm bracelet to remember the day & the details of their relationship) Think of things that your love would appreciate. Here are a few ideas from my home: my sweetheart warms my robe when I am taking a shower. I will stick mini chocolate bars and notes in his suitcase when he goes out of town and he leaves a little mini note for me and my daughter on our mirror. You could also send a picture of a fun day/trip and thank them for such a special, memorable day. Attach a cute picture with a thought and text it to those you love. Give good, long hugs.  Burn a cd of their favorite songs, make a special memory book of your memories together…For my husband’s birthday I had friends & family write him a personal letter and I compiled them into a special book with pictures and bound it for him as a special gift. The ideas are endless. Think of something they would love and appreciate.

Do something special to show you care and do listen to their needs: (In the movie Ian arranges to have one of Samantha’s music pieces played at the concert) Share something with the one you love that shows you truly understand them. Maybe give them a special gift that reminds you of them. i.e. My husband in his travels picked up a beautifully carved wooden quail because of my deep love for the wild quail that run through our yard daily. Give a book that you have read that you think they will enjoy and write a sweet note inside. Give them a note list of all the qualities you LOVE and appreciate about them.

Tell them you love them: (In the movie Ian tells thanks Samantha for teaching him to LOVE) Speak the truth without fear. Genuinely share your hearts desires and the love you feel for one another. Set LOVE free.

Well, those are my thoughts inspired by a beautiful, emotional movie. If you decide to rent it and watch it, be prepared to cry. I know it will leave you yearning to appreciate and hug the ones you love just a little more.

Thanks for reading and following. Have a beautiful day.   -Heather

Fun ideas for a Couples Bucket List

Wow, Valentines is just a couple weeks away, so I thought the next little while I will post things like couple bucket lists, great information on love languages and fun ideas on how to spoil those you LOVE! Cheers to LOVE WEEK(s)!!

I am going to start with a fun idea that can bring any couple together…a COUPLES BUCKET LIST!! What a great time of year to sit down with the one you love and create a fun list of things you want to do together…for valentines, for the month, week or year.

Take the time to connect. This is a great opportunity to see where your other half desires to be—where they want to go, what they want to do, what aspirations they hold. Sharing hopes and dreams will bring you closer, it will help you focus on one another and the future you would like to create. This is your life together, so take the time to create it, to include those things that matter most and make it a life you will LOVE together.

Here are some ideas I came across in my search…

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Here are a bunch of ideas I found…enjoy! Take a nap together, Couples Massage, Go on a spontaneous road trip together, Write one another a love letter, Walk the beach under the stars, Take a bubble bath, Cook a fun meal together, Make pasta from scratch, Swim at night, Fly a kite together, Travel to exotic places together (you decide where), Share random gifts, Go on a cruise, Visit a piano bar, Go to the symphony or ballet, Make a homemade Thanksgiving dinner together, Make a special dessert like Creme Brûlée, Watch an entire television series together (you decide), Hike the Grand Canyon, Train for a sports event together (Marathon, Triathlon, etc), Ride in a hot air balloon, Read a book together, Get a couples massage, Have a picnic on Lake Louise (or another Lake of your choice), Hug a Redwood Tree, Dance under a palm tree in Hawaii, Learn to surf together, Dress up for Halloween in themed costumes, See a live concert together, Build a fort, Take a specific class together, Release floating lanterns, Let go of a balloon with a wish attached to it, Kiss under mistletoe, Spend a day in cuddling, Make snow angels, Kiss at midnight on New Years, Write our own love story, Drive route 66, Visit a rainforest, Make a video montage of our life together, Sleep under the stars, Learn a new language, Adopt a pet, Take photos in a photo booth, Participate in a flashmob, Color a coloring book, Ride a tandem bike, Go to a music festival, Create nicknames for each other, Stay up all night, Go on a specific roller coaster, Kiss at the top of the Ferris Wheel, Take a tram ride, Have a pillow fight, Hike every National Park, Have special couple kisses, Sing together, Skinny dip, Learn to Tango or Ballroom Dance, Go on a motorcycle adventure together, Ride in a sailboat, See whales or dolphins in the wild, Kiss under the Eiffel Tower, Sleep in a hammock together, Learn to truly LOVE…

The list of ideas is endless, so take the time to create your own list with the one you LOVE.

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Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.  ~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry,Wind, Sand and Stars, 1939, translated from French by Lewis Galantière