Growing in Gratitude

Today is the final day of a month of expressing gratitude. It’s been my practice the last few years to be intentional about expressing thankfulness during Thanksgiving Week. This is the first time I’ve done 30 days of gratitude, and not only that but found at least five things a day to be grateful for. Growing in gratitude has been my reality during November.

It’s been a wonderful experience. Tonight it seems fitting to conclude my month of thanks and welcome December by lighting all of my Christmas candles for the first time. Darkness surrounds the house. Unseasonal thunderstorms are rolling through the area. However, inside the house, 80 plus candles create warmth and peace.

Growing in Gratitude

Finding My Heart

I successfully located a heart ornament for the tree, at Cracker Barrell’s Country Store. The small heart is adorned with silver beads that reflect the Christmas tree lights. As a bonus, the ornament was on sale. I paid a whopping 59¢ for it!

I had a harder time finding a representation of this years’s symbol…the quill pen or feather. Bird ornaments with real feathers attached for the tail seemed plentiful. And angel ornaments with wings caught my eye, but nothing that looked like an ordinary feather appeared. What to do? Go with a real feather. I got the idea this morning as I worked in my studio. I’ve been collecting feathers all year. They look very homey stuck into the branches of a small artificial tree resting on my writing table.

I found a cream colored ostrich feather that’s about a foot long. My fresh Christmas tree is not topped with a star. Rather, it is crowned with a feather. I’m grateful that I found what I was looking for.

Growing in Gratitude

Ornaments to Represent the Grandkids

Last night, as I decorated the tree, I decided to look for ornaments today to represent my grandchildren. Oliver’s nickname is Bear. A bear ornament, I thought, would be perfect for him.

As I looked for a feather in Hobby Lobby, I suddenly came across a sturdy bear ornament, a reminder of my intention. I selected the bear for Oliver, a fox for Joey and a bird for Aubrey. All of their ornaments are white.

For Jonathan I chose a graceful silver reindeer. And for Dayan a TARDIS from Doctor Who, as he is the one who introduced me to this amazing series.

Part of growing in gratitude is believing as fact, a future hope. I hung a silver baby stocking on the tree, to represent the child my daughter Adriel and son-in-law Nate hope to have in the near future. I’ve sent that sweet intention out into the universe, as an answered prayer, and I look forward to welcoming another grandchild someday. I can tell him or her…you were hoped for and loved even before you came into this world.

I’m grateful for the blessings in my life, called grandchildren.

Growing in Gratitude

The Lighting of the Candles

With the house and front porch decorated, I celebrated by lighting candles throughout my home. Each room is aglow with soft candlelight and tiny twinkling Christmas lights.

My heart is aglow too. I love switching off all the lamps and overhead lights and appreciating the beauty of each intimately lit room. It takes me half an hour to drop tea lights into every holder and container and then light them all. It is so worth the effort.

The lightning flickering outside is unexpected this time of year. We have the possibility of severe weather tonight. I lit candles on the front porch nonetheless, and inside it is cozy and snug. I am grateful. All is well.

Growing in Gratitude

From the Inner to the Outer

Normally when I decorate for Christmas, I begin with the front porch and then move into the house. I’ve always started with the outside because that’s the area people see first. Typically I finish up in my creative studio.

This year, I reversed the process. I began in the most personal area of my home…the bedroom. This is my inner sanctuary, the place I rest and dream in. Then I decorated my studio before moving into the more public living areas. Finally, I completed the decorating on the front porch.

The reversal is significant I believe. It reveals how I have shifted. My life is lived from my inner self, my sacred sanctuary, to my outer self, the part of me that is “public”. What happens in my inner life is manifested then in my outer life. I like the parallels and the symbolism that decorating my home offers to my life journey. It is all connected and I am grateful.

Growing in Gratitude

Growing in Gratitude

This has been an amazing 30 days, as I practice gratitude and wrote about the Daily 5. That’s 150 intentional gratitudes expressed. The experience did more than raise my awareness, showing me how blessed I am. It shifted my thinking, expanded my soul and deepened my faith.

Watching for things to be thankful for caused more blessings to flow into my life. My prayer all day long was “Thank you..”, expressed with a full heart to the Divine.

Meister Eckhart wrote:

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is ‘thank you’, that will be enough.”

It is enough. Gratitude transforms everything.

Thank you. I am grateful. Thank you.

Growing in Gratitude

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

I set a goal this year, of spreading Christmas Joy throughout the house by December 1. That way I can focus on other things during the holidays while enjoying a decorated home. This evening I switched over the décor in the living room, completing the house. Tomorrow I’ll finish the front porch and declare it all done. Goal met.

I’m writing my blog post in the living room as I admire flickering candles and the twinkling lights on Christmas trees. The sight brings me great joy and floods my soul with peace. I can’t stop looking around, or smiling.

Here are my five gratitudes for this day.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

All That Glitters

I’ve had a fresh, undecorated Christmas tree in my living room for a week. Even without lights and ornaments, I have enjoyed the Fraser Fir tree, catching its grounding scent every time I walk by. Not once in my life have I had an artificial tree. I don’t mind at all if others do, I just cannot take that step. The scent, the imperfections, the way the heavy branches feel, all entice me to keep purchasing fresh trees. Yes, needles fall. And the water level in the stand’s reservoir has to be checked daily. I don’t mind.

My tradition with the tree is this…I hang ornaments on it that tell stories, stir memories and inspire me. Every year I purchase a unique heart ornament and something to represent the year’s symbol. One box is full of shiny ornaments that tell of past years. The butterfly, bird, dragonfly, lightbulb and acorn ornaments all remind me of my journey the last few years and how much I’ve grown.

The multitude of heart ornaments, in various sizes and made of differing materials, remind that my heart is the most important thing to bring along on my journey. I have not found the right heart ornament yet, or a representation of this year’s symbol. Hopefully tomorrow that is remedied. I’m grateful for the shining, glittering adornment on my tree tonight. Every piece tells my story.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

Eclectic Finds

My chippy little entry table moves closer to the tree during the holidays and hosts an eclectic mix of found, gifted and purchased items.

One of the ways I create Christmas Joy in my home is by arranging interesting pieces together, that make me smile. The birdcage contains five red and silver votive holders while the birds perch free, outside the cage. The wire cloche is a favorite piece that I bought years ago. It holds different items for each season. During Christmas it’s full of tiny pine cones, woven wooden balls and white glittery styrofoam balls. A wooden block with Believe painted on it stands with a vintage wooden spool transformed into a tall skinny Santa.

On the bottom shelf a quartet of Santas share space with a large papier-mâché snowman. I found the squatty candle holder in a thrift store, along with the trio of Santas. That ceramic piece, that I bought for a ridiculously low price, is one of my all time favorite finds. I only stopped at the thrift store because a friend wanted to look. And I walked out with a treasure! These pieces bring me Christmas Joy and brighten my heart with gladness.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

Aunt Roxie’s Box

I’ve written previously about this vintage treasure, that once served my great great aunt as a footrest. Read the story about the box here.

I repurposed the footrest into a decorative box, leaving the original paint. The rustic red box is perfect for a little Christmas vignette. Mason jars hold tea lights and three fabric trees nestle within in. Some sticks of cinnamon and dried baby’s breath complete the box. A metal birdcage candleholder and a little metal BELIEVE sign complete this fun grouping. I’m grateful for the memories I have of Aunt Roxie, a feisty petite woman who raised my grandmother and her brother after they lost their mother. I am honored to have her red box.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

Something Simple, Something New

I’m always playing around with items and ideas. As I put the finishing touches on the room and carted out the empty Christmas boxes, I spied a ziplock bag full of small sparkly gold and red balls. I originally purchased those several years ago with the intention of displaying them in the wire cloche, mentioned above. The results were hilarious when I dumped the decorative balls into the tall wire container and then flipped it over onto its stand. The balls were too small. They “drained” out through the openings in the wire cloche, scattering everywhere.

I looked around the living room, seeking a place to use these brightly colored decorations. Instantly I received a visual download. I mentally saw what to use as a container for the balls and what else to display with them. That’s how inspiration often works for me…I get detailed images. They become the map that guides me.

I retrieved the items out of the storage closet and quickly assembled a new little vignette. The baby ficus tree is a start from the very old tree that died recently. It makes me think of Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy. The yellow bird candleholder and Bless All Who Enter mini sign are recent purchases. And the old blown glass pitcher, that I adore, was an incredible yard sale find. The red and gold balls did not escape this container. I love simple vignettes such as this one. I’m grateful for the inspiration.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

Christmas Joy

Every tabletop, cupboard and shelf in the living room is decorated. An old wooden chair with a small round seat holds a third Christmas tree and a set of red ceramic birds. A white Christmas tree festooned with lights rests on a table near the front door.

My Christmas mug collection nearly overflows its customary shelf. Next year I’ll have to divide the collection, as I don’t see how I can possible squeeze in one more festive mug. The new gray cat cup sits front and center, as is fitting. My kitties approve.

Everywhere in my home there is light, there is beauty, there is Christmas Joy. Sipping hot cranberry tea, and admiring the fruits of my labor, my heart overflows.

Christmas Joy Throughout the House

That’s How the Light Gets In

As Christmas decorating continues at my house, one room at a time, the day’s gratitudes seemed to gather around Light. Leonard Cohen’s lyrics, from the album Anthem, came to mind.

“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Come and find the Light with me.

That’s How the Light Gets In

A Light Shines in the Darkness

Candlelight is a crucial part of my Christmas décor. When I light all the candles, after I finish decorating, they number in the 70s. I primarily use tea light candles and go through many packages during the holiday season.

Beyond just finding the flickering candlelight pretty and cozy, the tiny flames represent miniature beacons of hope in the darkness. I love filling my home with such hope.

The dining room, where I focused my attention tonight, contains more candles than any other room. My snowman collection fills this area and most of the pieces hold a tea light.

I’m grateful for each piece. Many have been gifted to me by my children, grandchildren, Mom and Greg. And one little pale blue snowman was crafted by my daughter Elissa when she was a child. Daughter Adriel gave me the snowman dishes.

Greg’s brother Ray, who passed away 15 years ago, drew the snowman picture when he was about 10 years old. I framed it a couple of years ago. Read more about Ray’s Snowman.

That’s How the Light Gets In

Vintage Metal Christmas Tree

This unique Christmas tree is one of my favorite pieces. After my sweet Aunt Annie passed away several years ago, my cousins allowed my mom, sisters and me to sort through boxes of items stored in my aunt’s basement.

I uncovered this metal tabletop tree, still wrapped in plastic and in its original box. Perhaps because it was so different, or perhaps because it reminded me of the silver aluminum Christmas tree that my grandparents had, that tree came home with me.

The branches fold down. White lights are already attached and when its plugged in, the tree glows with silvery beauty. I held my breath the first time I plugged the tree in and clicked the switch. And “Oooohed and Ahhhhed” when it lit up. I have no idea how old this treasure is, as I haven’t been able to find anything like it via Google.

I’m thankful for this special tree and the twinkling Light it casts into the room. Long may those little lights shine.

That’s How the Light Gets In

A New Space to Decorate

Unpacking the dining room Christmas boxes, I mentally decided which items to use and which to leave in the boxes. In spite of tabletops and shelves to decorate, I never have quite enough space to display everything.

Greg came to my rescue. He cleared a bookcase in the dining room, relocating the books to another area. Suddenly, I had three more shelves to play with! What fun.

Light filled this space too, in the form of candles and a lighted ceramic canister, made by my friend Beth many years ago. I’m grateful to Greg for gifting me with more space and I’m thrilled with the results. Snowmen share the shelves with a birdhouse, a metal globe, a vintage pocket watch and my mother’s WW II Wooden Shoes...a gift from her uncle when she was five.

That’s How the Light Gets In

Officially Christmas

I have a multitude of traditions surrounding Christmas. One involves a glass box, filled with tiny lights. This too was a long ago gift from my friend Beth. I’m not sure when the yearly custom began, however the lighting of the box signifies that Christmas has officially arrived in my house.

I purchase a new string of mini white lights each November, and remove the old strand. After adding the fresh lights, the box goes into its customary place in the dining room, and I plug in the string of lights.

Once I plug in the lights, they stay plugged in. Light shines from the glass box, a soft glow during the day and a true beacon at night that dispels the darkness. I lie in bed and appreciate the light that spills in through my doorway, knowing that all is well in my house.

The box stays lit until April, typically. And then one night, I turn out my bedroom light and realize total darkness blankets the room. My Christmas box has gone out. I always feel a bit sad when that happens, as it marks the end of the Season of Light. However, the darkness creates in me a greater appreciation for the Light when it returns in late November.

Tonight, Christmas officially arrived in my home. The box is a glow!

That’s How the Light Gets In

How the Light Gets In…and Out

One of my dearest treasures is a ceramic candle holder that my grandson Dayan made when he was a boy. It was his first attempt at working with clay and going through the whole creative process with it.

His art teacher was less than encouraging about his finished piece, something that bothers me still, to this day. In fact, she was downright rude, suggesting Dayan might want to toss his artwork.

Instead, my grandson, who went on to become very talented artistically, offered the candle holder to me. I accepted the gift with gratitude and appreciation for its unique beauty. The green container is on display in my dining room year around. At Christmas time though I drop a tea light into it and marvel at how the light delicately shines through.

As I lit the candle within the holder this evening, Leonard Cohen’s words came to mind.

Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.

Dayan’s candle holder isn’t perfect…few things in life are. And yet there is such beauty in imperfection, such delight to be found. His artwork contains little spaces, naturally, between the coils and blocks of clay. It’s through those wee gaps that the light finds its way out.

People are not perfect either…it’s safe to say, I think, that none are. And yet those places where challenges have created cracks and spaces and gaps are where Light finds its way in…and where our unique and renewed Light finds its way back out. Each of us, with Light spilling out, is a walking, breathing Beacon of Hope…if we allow the Light to find its way in and allow it to shine back out.

I’m grateful to Dayan…for his Light and for this precious, precious gift. I am ever so grateful for the Light that shines from each candle, each twinkling light, and especially from the green candle holder with its beautiful gaps. The Light calls to the Light within me and reminds me of who I am and of the Joy to be found during this season.

Welcome, Christmas Light.

That’s How the Light Gets In

Giving Tuesday 2018

Giving Tuesday began in 2012. It was created with the intention of balancing out the heavy spending that occurs immediately after Thanksgiving, on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Asha Curran, who dreamed up the idea, hoped to turn people’s attention from two days of consuming to one day of giving. In the last seven years, the idea has spread to 55 countries, globalizing the concept.

In its first year about $10 million was raised online. Last year the total reached $300 million, benefitting tens of thousands of non profit groups and organizations.

I happily participate in Giving Tuesday, shared on social media as #givingtuesday, donating to five or six organizations annually. Today, driving to meet grandson Oliver for lunch at his school, I had a flash of inspiration. I’ve been practicing five daily gratitudes throughout the month of November. I have five grandchildren. What if I let each child choose the organization or group they wanted to donate to? Then I could make a donation in their name.

The grandkids liked the idea! Below are the organizations they chose.

Giving Tuesday 2018

The Trevor Project

Giving Tuesday 2018

This project began in 1994 as a story told on stage and then in a short film. In 1998 the film producers launched the Trevor Lifeline, the first national crisis intervention and suicide prevention lifeline for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning youth.

Since then, hundreds of thousands of young people in crisis have reached out to The Trevor Project’s multiple in-person and online life-saving, life-affirming resources–Trevor Lifeline, TrevorChat, TrevorSpace and Trevor Education Workshops. Check out The Trevor Project.

This was grandson Dayan’s organization of choice and a donation was made on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Kansas Angels Among Us

Giving Tuesday 2018

Located in Pittsburg, Kansas, this organization, founded in 2000, helps to relieve some of the financial burden of utilities, wigs and other needs of cancer patients. Angels Among Us is volunteer based with about 250 volunteers or “angels,” which help raise money for cancer patients.

Founder Diana Polston says that the organization’s volunteers participate in fundraisers with local businesses to raise money throughout the year. One of their biggest fundraisers is the Crawford County Fair Angel Cafe. Check our Angels Among Us.

Grandson Jonathan chose this organization and a donation is on its way, on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Haven of Hope Rescue Foundation

Giving Tuesday 2018

Established in 2009, this group based in Oklahoma focuses on saving dogs that have no hope. They do not discriminate based on age, sex, color, breed, length of fur or ability to obey basic commands or stay off the furniture.

To grow and expand, Haven of Hope depends on donations and adoption fees for rescued dogs. Sponsorship of our rescues and donations are greatly appreciated and necessary for them to continue their mission, which truly is . . to Save Dogs! Visit Haven of Hope’s website for more info.

Grandson Joey wanted to support an animal rescue organization. A donation was made on his behalf.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Canned Food Drive for Families in Need

Giving Tuesday 2018

During lunch with Oliver at his school, we discussed Giving Tuesday and my idea of allowing each grandchild to select an organization to donate to. At first Oliver wanted to check out sports program for youth.

Then he remembered that his class is collecting canned goods to donate to local groups that will distribute baskets to needy families. He asked if we could help with that project. Of course we can!

I used the money I would have donated on Oliver’s behalf to purchase canned goods. I’ll deliver these to Oliver so he can take them to school. Contact Crosslines Ministries of Joplin to donate canned goods.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Legacy of Hope Dog Rescue

Giving Tuesday 2018

My family in the Broken Arrow, Oklahoma area is involved with this organization. The group rescues dogs in dangerous, hopeless or needy situations and places them in foster care with sponsors until they are ready for adoption.

They envision a community knowledgeable about dog preventative health and behavior training, leading to empty shelters. Low cost spaying and neutering options are offered through Legacy of Hope. They also help to educate people about Pit Bulls, which are suffering as a breed. Check out their website.

A donation was made on behalf of granddaughter Aubrey, who also wanted to support an animal rescue organization.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Giving Tuesday Begins with Me

My intention, in allowing the grandkids to select organizations that they care about, is to create the awareness and practice of helping others. I’ll make these donations, on their behalf, with the sincere belief that when they are young adults they will pick up the batons I pass to them and continue on.

First I must model for them what giving looks like. Then they can later choose to give their time, money, and resources.

May Giving Tuesday become a way of life, every day, within us all.

Giving Tuesday 2018

Eclectic Collector

Eclectic is defined as “Deriving ideas, style, or tastes from a broad and diverse range of sources.” An eclectic is a person who lives by that definition, bringing together diverse ideas or items and putting them together in interesting ways.

Eclectic comes from the Greek words ek – out and legein – choose, meaning, literally to choose or pick out.

I consider myself an eclectic and as I moved through this day, that’s the word that kept coming to mind as I encountered gratitudes.

Eclectic Collector

Lunch with Aubrey

Before the fall school semester ends, with Christmas break, I intend to have lunch or an early dinner with each of my grandkids. I began with granddaughter Aubrey today.

Keeping with my theme here, I have an eclectic mix of grandchildren. Each child is wonderfully unique. I love seeing them developing their perspectives and growing into their gifts and talents.

At age ten, Aubrey is currently my youngest grandchild. She has always been older than her actual years. In the last few months she’s entered a new level of maturity, as she balances on the cusp of her teen years.

We had a sweet lunch together at her school, talking about a broad range of topics that included art, fashion, the holidays and friends. I am grateful for Aubrey and her broad and deep ideas about life.

Eclectic Collector

A New Idea, Reworked

After finishing online work this afternoon, I chose to stay in my studio and decorate it next for Christmas. I had one box full of dècor for this room, and I once again enjoyed the convenience of having all the items together.

Last year I implemented a change that continues this year, with modifications. In years past, as I unpacked Christmas items I used the emptied boxes as storage for my everyday pieces. It was a good idea, for many years. However, the heavy boxes got more and more difficult to hoist up onto their high storage shelves. And because I wasn’t as organized as I am this year, it was a bit chaotic finding everything when it was time to reset the rooms after Christmas. I dug through a lot of boxes, hunting.

Last year I tried something different. Rather than pack my everyday dècor in the emptied Christmas boxes, I stashed them in the room they belonged in, out of sight. So in my studio, the regular decorations, photos, art supplies, etc. went into drawers or into the closet. Empty Christmas storage containers were much easier to lift back up onto their shelves and after the holidays I knew where my regular items were. Okay…I knew where most of them were. A couple of times I had to think really hard about where I stuck something!

This year, I tweaked that idea.

Eclectic Collector

Eclectic Christmas Decorating

Rather than hide away all of my everyday stuff, I incorporated as much of it as I could into the Christmas dècor, creating very eclectic vignettes. Coloring books and colored pencils partnered with a row of metal Christmas trees, as did Harry Potter books, a framed quote and a black lion. I tied the odd mix of items together with colors.

I repeated this process throughout the room and I’m extremely happy with the results! Not only did I stash less, I combined pieces in new ways that appeal to me. One of my favorite groupings is the trio of Christmas trees…with pieces from my outdoor fairy garden! It makes me smile.

I couldn’t quite figure out an appropriate place for Absolem, my caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, and his mushroom…but I’m still thinking on it. Grateful I am for a fun and fresh way to decorate.

Eclectic Collector

Eclectic Real Estate

An odd mix of styles was definitely present in the house I showed to clients this evening. My buyers would happily consider themselves eclectic as well. We had a hilarious moment as we toured a big house that has been added onto over the years.

It was cold and dark, and although electricity was on in the vacant house, as we moved deeper into the older section the light fixtures did not have lightbulbs. Mr. Buyer clicked on a small flashlight and walked ahead of the rest of us, through a series of small dark rooms until he entered a doorway into the last room.

He suddenly made a startled sound and stumbled back out, clutching his chest. Laughing he said he nearly had a heart attack and without telling us why, made the rest of the group come and look into the room.

I could see why he cried out, as I cautiously peeked around the corner. There appeared to be a man standing there in the darkened room, holding a gun! On closer inspection, it turned out to be a life sized cardboard stand up of Hans Solo. Whew.

I’m grateful for interesting showings and clients who have a sense of humor.

Eclectic Collector

An Eclectic Dinner

Even my meal tonight was an eclectic mix of foods that don’t typically go together, ever. Into my dinner bowl went leftovers from Thanksgiving Day and two different lunches.

I refuse to waste food. Therefore my meal consisted of leftover vegan Thai food, a succotash made from non-GMO lima beans and corn, a spoonful of raw cranberry relish, and a big portion of raw chopped veggie salad, both from last Thursday’s meal.

You know what? It was good! The cool tangy cranberry relish perfectly countered the spicy hot Thai food. I grinned as I ate and thought about my eclectic day.

I value and appreciate diversity in my life. Combining things in new creative ways is fun for me and positively challenges me. My life is eclectic on so many different levels as I collect and embrace a mix of beliefs and entertain broad thoughts, bringing them all together in a way that works beautifully for me.

I love my eclectic life. It is, most assuredly, a lifestyle that I choose.

Eclectic Collector

Start your own eclectic Christmas collection with this fun set of Starfish Christmas Trees!

I am an Amazon Affiliate and may earn a commission on purchases, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for considering making a purchase of this product, or any other items, through my Amazon link! 

Christmas Decorating Underway

Entering into my final few days of expressing gratitude daily, my focus shifted today. I got Christmas decorating underway. This season is my favorite time of year. As I changed the dècor in my bedroom, I easily found five things to be thankful for.

Christmas Decorating Underway

Grateful for Something I Did 11 Months Ago

My Christmas decorations are stored in boxes, high up and out of the way. A ladder is required to retrieve the boxes. I’m grateful for Greg, first of all, who patiently handed down box after box.

Secondly, I am incredibly happy with myself, for something I did early in the new year. As I packed away Christmas dècor, I labeled the boxes, by room. So all of the living room decorations are grouped together in boxes and labeled as such. I did that for every room. Today I simply carried boxes to their designated rooms, as Greg handed them down.

Two boxes went into my bedroom, which is where I chose to start the Christmas transformation. What a difference, opening two boxes and having everything for this room right there, versus opening all of the boxes, hunting for items.

Why have I never thought of doing this before?

Christmas Decorating Underway

Something Old…

Greg recently found a small felt poinsettia he made as a child, tucked into an old bible that belonged to a grandparent. I love these kind of finds. Rather than tuck such treasures away in a drawer, I repurpose them.

Check out a previous project HERE.

Greg’s name is written on the back of the felt decoration, in capital letters. Unfortunately there isn’t a date, but Greg must have been 7 – 8 years old, making this little poinsettia vintage now! I’m grateful his grandma or grandpa saved his artwork and that Greg discovered it.

Christmas Decorating Underway

…Becomes Something New

I gathered Christmas scrapbooking papers, double sided tape, scissors, a pencil and a 5X7 wooden frame I had on hand.

Using the removable back of the frame as a template, I traced around it on the dark red, green and white plaid paper. After cutting out my rectangle, I had the background for the poinsettia. Double sided tape secured the felt piece to the paper and then I popped it into the frame.

This cute framed art joins other repurposed art work from Greg’s childhood and vintage Christmas cards that I’ve framed as well. I’m thankful for simple, effective ways to display these keepsakes.

Christmas Decorating Underway

Kaleb’s Gift

I received my first gift of the season yesterday, from my seven year old great nephew Kaleb. My sister Debbie and Kaleb came into town for a quick overnight visit, so they could attend Lola’s Bouncy Birthday Party.

Kaleb and I have a special bond, an instantaneous connection that began the moment I held him, shortly after his birth. I can’t explain it, in a way that makes sense to anyone else. Our old souls just recognize each other.

When we get to spend time together we have fun talking and playing games and singing our favorite songs, loudly. Kaleb gave me a woven piece that he made, on a little hand loom. I had such a loom as a child, and spent many happy hours creating gifts for loved ones. I’m deeply touched to receive his work of love.

Rather than use Kaleb’s gift as a potholder, I incorporated it into the Christmas decorating in my room. I love how the little woven mat looks, with a cheerful snowman candle holder resting on it. Displayed with it is a smaller hooked yarn piece that my cousin Mindy made. She passed away almost four years ago. I’m grateful to her son William, who allowed me to bring this piece home. And I’m thankful for Kaleb’s special gift. The colors are perfect.

Christmas Decorating Underway

Christmas Music

As I decorated, I took a temporary break from listening to Queen. Instead, I pulled up channel 838 on DirectTV…the All Christmas music channel. I prefer to work, cook or clean with music playing. What better than Christmas music, for Christmas decorating?

The sound of music, from holiday classics to Christmas rock, filled my room as I worked. I hummed along and frequently broke into song. Glancing at the television screen reveals what song is playing, who is singing, the album name and the year…all great info.

I’m deeply grateful for music…all kinds…and tonight I am especially thankful for Christmas music and DirectTV for creating music channels.

Christmas Decorating Underway

Christmas Decorating Well Underway

A pleasant couple of hours later, one room is completely decorated for Christmas. I started here because this is my personal space. This is where I sleep…and where I think, write in my journal, read, and watch movies. This room, and my creative studio, most accurately reflect back to me who I am. I surround myself, in both rooms, with the things that I love, the objects that inspire me, and the items that bring me joy.

Tonight the Spirit of Christmas is alive in my room, filling my heart with peace and joy. It’s a good start.

Christmas Decorating Underway

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Today’s gratitudes are clustered around family, and in particular my great niece, who turns four next week. She chose to party at Joplin’s House of Bounce. We gathered to celebrate her at the special event…Lola’s Bouncy Birthday.

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Bouncy Birthday

House of Bounce is geared toward kids under the age of ten. They have a variety of inflatables to tumble, climb and bounce on. It’s a fun place for children to play and expend energy.

The facility can be rented for private parties, such as Lola’s. This allows adults in the family to jump too, if they want. The Wrecking Ball area, with its giant inflated tethered ball and ring of platforms, draws the adults.

I’m grateful that many of the adults in my family join the kids, playing and bouncing too.

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Kids Love Nate

My son-in-law, Nate, is great with kids. Lola adores him. He honors her by showing up at her parties or visiting her when she’s in town. It’s so cute to hear Lola calling his name and inviting him to bounce or play.

Lola celebrated Nate’s birthday, which was yesterday, by sending him a video of her singing Happy Birthday.

I’m grateful for Nate and for my close knit family who loves celebrating each other.

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Presents for Lola

Lola’s bouncy birthday bash paused nlong enough to open gifts and blow out candles on cupcakes.

At four this bright girl communicates well through lilting conversation and darling expressions that animate her sweet face. She showed genuine delight, in every gift she received. After all the presents were opened, Lola stood on a pint sized picnic table and thanked us all. I already appreciate her enthusiasm for life.

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Blow Out the Candles

After presents were opened and exclaimed over, it was time for cupcakes. Lola selected the Minnie Mouse party ware and she chose the chocolate and vanilla cupcakes with blue frosting.

She grinned as we sang to her, past the age now when such attention embarrasses her. In her typical theatrical way, she blew out the candles.

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

The Gift of Lola

I’m grateful for this beautiful child, who loves to sing and dance and have stories read to her. I’m grateful as well for her parents…my nephew Scott and his wife Nicole…who love their children with whole hearts and encourage them to be their unique selves.

We celebrated Lola tonight, and offered her gifts. She is the gift, however, a special gift to us. Lola’s bouncy birthday was simply an opportunity to recognize how blessed our family is with her bright presence, and to surround her with love.

Happy birthday Lola!

Lola’s Bouncy Birthday

Give Joy Get Joy

The day after Thanksgiving, commercially known as Black Friday, officially launches the Christmas season. Many people dislike Black Friday shopping, and worse, even shame people for taking part in the day. I don’t always take advantage of the incredible sales. When I do, however, I have fun with the experience. A sign I saw hanging in Kohl’s, as I waited in line to purchase, inspired today’s title.

Give Joy Get Joy.

There’s incredible truth in those words, which sparked gratitude.

Give Joy Get Joy

Black Friday Shopping at a Kohl’s

I looked through sales flyers last night, with a mental wish list of items. As hoped, I found several at deeply discounted prices. I’ve rarely been one to get up before dawn to get the best deals. So I slept in a bit this morning. By mid morning I was in the car, with Greg as my driver.

He drops me off at the front of the store and finds a parking spot while I shop. Sometimes he joins me as I wait in line. Most often he waits in the car with a book. On rainy days, like today, I especially appreciate his chauffeur services!

Kohl’s was bustling with cheerful chaos. Lines snaked down either side of the store, stretching to the back. Unconcerned, I did my shopping, carrying the sales flyer to help me locate what I wanted. The lines seemed equally long, so I walked across the back of the store and found the helpful employee holding up a sign. This marked the end of the line.

I don’t mind crowds and waiting in line. If I did, I’d stay home. I choose to participate in the experience in a fun and playful way. The man in front of me turned to say “hi”. I learned his name was Steve and by the time we reached the registers, we were friends. We chatted easily and laughed and smiled at each other every time the line moved forward. His wife popped in and out of our conversations as she continued to shop while Steve kept their place in line.

In less than 20 minutes we were at the registers, after spending those moments in pleasant conversation. I’m grateful for happy people, like Steve, who find joy in life’s experiences. We wished each other a good day, as we walked to different check outs, and he turned to call out, “Have a Merry Christmas too!” The cashier asked me if Steve and I knew each other. “We do now!” I answered.

Give Joy Get Joy

Christmas Mug

I am grateful that I chose to walk across the back of the store and get in the other line. Not only did I enjoy talking to Steve, I spied a Christmas display that reminded me of something important.

Each year, since 1977, I buy a Christmas mug to add to my collection. Greg’s mom began this tradition for me, by giving me a couple of vintage Santa mugs she made in the 1960s. I realized this morning that I had not purchased a mug yet for 2018. I believe the Divine is interested in everything that I do. Every tiny detail of my life is significant. Seeing the display, with every item on sale, was a Divine invitation to pick out a mug.

I selected one that’s completely different from the others in my collection. The gray and white cat represents Shy Boy, Rilynn and Angel. Buying a Christmas cat mug might officially mark me as a “crazy cat lady”. I love my new mug, and instead of paying $14.99 for it, I paid $3.49. I’m grateful for inspiration that guided me to the display and the wonderful sale.

Give Joy Get Joy

Give Joy Get Joy

As I moved slowly and steadily toward the front of the store, chatting with Steve, I noticed a banner hanging from the store ceiling.

It proclaimed:

Give Joy Get Joy

I felt so drawn to the sentiment that I snapped a photo as I drew even with the banner.

The words are true, on multiple levels. We get back what we give out. Give a smile, receive one back. Give love, get love. Be a friend, connect with friends. Frown at someone, get one back. Give complaints, get complaints back. Give joy, get joy.

It’s an energetic truth. Whatever we put out into the world are like little energy missiles…with homing devices. What we send out always returns to us. Be kind, compassionate, helpful to others, and those qualities are given back to us. Be mean spirited, hateful, and unkind and we will experience the same in life.

On this day, it was easy to see the evidence of this law. The complainers just got more frustrated and found more to complain about. The joyful people were happy and relaxed and found more to express joy about. I choose to be mindful about what I am putting out there, energetically. Life just keeps bringing me more to be joyful about as a result.

I’m grateful for the visual reminder of Give Joy Get Joy. It’s my choice whether I shop on Black Friday or stay home. It’s your choice as well. There’s no right or wrong in such decisions, and no reason to make a judgment about it. Do what you enjoy doing, and allow others to do the same. For some the sales make Christmas money go much further.

On that note, I saved $412.33 today, because of sales. I’m smiling about that.

Give Joy Get Joy

The Idea Light

I spent the afternoon working in my creative studio. I’m accomplishing task after task as I tweak the blogs and tackle new technology. As darkness pressed against the windows, I paused to turn on lamps in the small room.

Last year my symbol for 2017 was the light bulb. I have a large Franklin bulb hanging in the corner, above a vintage chair. When I switched on that bulb, my creativity seemed to switch on as well. I enjoyed taking a break from the computer by sitting in my “thinking chair”, beneath the lightbulb. Often used as a symbol for creativity, I sat underneath that visual representation and daydreamed for a short time. Ideas flowed and inspired me.

I’m grateful for this corner of my studio. Create a space for creative ideas to flow…and guess what happens? They flow.

Give Joy Get Joy

Healthy Comfort Food

The day concluded with gratitude for healthy comfort food. When I tell people I am plant based, they picture me eating lots of salads. I occasionally eat a salad, however there is such a wide variety of meals I can prepare within the plant based guidelines.

This easy Macaroni Bake is a favorite. Made with gluten free brown rice pasta, a dairy free cashew sauce, and peas and broccoli, this dish supplies all the comfort of comfort food without the unhealthy stuff. I make Macaroni Bake often during the cold winter months.

What a gratitude filled day. I love that the theme of the day was set by a store banner, on the busiest shopping day of the year.

Give Joy Get Joy.

That joy is rippling through my soul even now, and flowing out in waves that move outward into my world…and Beyond. I know that joy will return to me, multiplied.

Give Joy Get Joy

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

What a blessed day. Our children, two of our grandchildren, and Greg and I enjoyed a family Thanksgiving gathering. The event was hosted this year by daughter Adriel and her husband Nate in their home.

My five gratitudes were easy to identify.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Family

I love when my adult children and their families can gather together. It’s not a simple task, with work schedules. I appreciate the effort each person makes.

Today everyone was present except for grandsons Jonathan, Joey and Oliver. Conversations flowed, laughter rolled, smiles and hugs were easily given. I sat back during dinner and watched my children, who have grown into phenomenal adults. They’ve had their share of challenges and yet they continually rise above and grow through the experiences. I couldn’t be prouder of them.

I am grateful for…FAMILY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Good Food

Adriel and Nate prepared a traditional turkey dinner, with family favorites such as Settler Baked Beans, cheesy peas, mashed potatoes and green bean casserole. Megan made a cheese ball, buffalo wing dip, and cheesecake brownies. It was a feast, indeed!

Greg and I are plant based. We brought along stuffed acorn squash to serve as our main dish. And we contributed black bean & corn salsa, raw cranberry relish, a big chopped salad, vegan pumpkin bread and vegan wacky cupcakes. Coconut cream whip and walnuts were available as toppings.

It was such a pleasant and enjoyable meal. I was full, without feeling uncomfortably stuffed, satisfied with good, healthy food.

I am grateful for…GOOD FOOD.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Mimi’s Olive Dish

I used a vintage dish at the family Thanksgiving gathering, that belonged to Greg’s mother Leta. Mimi Leta served up olives in the dish, during special gatherings or Sunday meals.

I thought it would be fun to use the dish in memory of this sweet lady, especially since yesterday was Bob and Leta’s wedding anniversary. They would have been married 77 years. We piled black olives in the dish and the sight brought back happy memories. I totally failed to get a photo while the dish held olives. Sometimes I take off the blogger hat.

I am grateful for…VINTAGE ITEMS AND THEIR STORIES.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Happy Birthday Nate

Tomorrow my son-in-law Nate turns 37 years old. We celebrated him today, which is perfect as we are so thankful for him. Adriel made a spice birthday cake.

Our family is blessed to have Nate. This sincere and kind young man has a generous and loving heart. He and Adriel have built a wonderful life together and I’m excited to see what they accomplish as they journey.

I am grateful for…NATE AND THE OPPORTUNITY TO CELEBRATE HIM TODAY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

MiliLou Styles

Daughter-in-law Megan and her sister Tara have started a side business, making and selling earrings, hair bows and t-shirts. These hard working girls get together a couple of times a week and create.

Megan brought some of her inventory to our family Thanksgiving gathering. Elissa and I purchased earrings. I love the bar earrings with silver trim that I bought. And I found a set of earrings with feathers on them…a perfect representation of my symbol for 2018.

Check out the MiliLou Styles Facebook Page.

I am grateful for…MEGAN AND TARA AND THEIR CREATIVITY.

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Blessings

Thanksgiving is a day set aside for expressing thanks and counting blessings and gathering with friends and family. I love Thanksgiving. And I’m mindful that every day is a good day to express thanks and feel grateful for the rich blessings in my life.

I am grateful…

Family Thanksgiving Gathering

Thankful for Habits of Health

As I prepared for a busy day, two days before Thanksgiving, I was especially thankful for habits of health. In a rush to get out the door, it would have been easier to skip my normal health boosting drinks and just grab a piece of fruit to go. It would not have been better, however. Habits kicked in. I’m grateful.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Celery Juice for Healthy Digestion

Celery juice is a health elixir. It’s the first change I made in my diet, more than two and a half years ago. The difference in my digestive health has been profound. Celery is an alkalizing food that counters acidity in the body, easing stomach disorders and calming the intestinal tract. I feel the difference, if I go without celery juice for several days. Read more about the benefits of celery juice HERE.

On a busy day, I need to take the time to care for myself in powerful ways. Standing in the kitchen, drinking 16 ounces of fresh celery juice was exactly how I needed to begin my day. To prepare, wash one bunch of celery, trim off leaves (juice can be bitter with the leaves) and run stalks through a juicer. One bunch of celery makes 12 – 16 ounces. Drink immediately.

I’m thankful for this green juice.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Detox Smoothie

While I sipped celery juice I prepared my second morning drink. I alternate each day between a fruit smoothie and a detox smoothie. It was a detox day. My 32 ounce drink contained 1 banana, 1 pear, 1 orange, 1 cup of wild blueberries, a handful of fresh cilantro, fresh aloe vera gel, and a spoonful each of hemp seeds, chaga mushroom powder, Atlantic sea dulse and Hawaiian spirulina. Typically I include barley grass juice powder too. I’m out and have more on the way.

I’m grateful for this powerful drink as well. It pulls heavy metals and toxins from my liver, thyroid, and brain. Drinking this yummy mix eliminated restless legs syndrome, something I suffered with since childhood. When I travel overseas, I drink a detox smoothie every day for the 30 days prior to flying. I travel well as a result, without restless legs or leg cramps.

I’m thankful that these strong habits overruled my perceived need to skip my morning routine and get out the door. My body benefitted as did my day.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Stuffed Acorn Squash

This time of year people ask me what I eat during the holidays. They are curious. Do I stay plant based?

I do. I know I would not feel well if I spent even one day eating meat or indulging in foods rich in dairy products, refined sugar and eggs. For Thanksgiving, my family gets together. My adult kids prepare a traditional meal. I bring along plant based foods for me and Greg to eat and to share.

I tried out two new holiday worthy recipes, with great success! Find both recipes HERE.

I won’t be eating turkey and all the fixings. Instead I’ll dine on acorn squash stuffed with a delicious rice, pear, cranberry and veggie “dressing”. With something new, I do a trial run. I made enough to take to the family meal on Thursday. The savory blend of veggies with pears and cranberries was wonderful and the squash was tasty as well.

I’m thankful for plant based options that are “fancy” enough for holiday meals.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Vegan Pumpkin Bread

In lieu of sugary desserts after the Thanksgiving meal, I’m offering a light, subtly spiced pumpkin bread. Dairy, gluten and egg free, the recipe uses coconut sugar and pure maple syrup instead of refined sugar.

This was my first time preparing a vegan pumpkin bread. It won’t be my last! The loaf has a rustic look, however it is moist and slices perfectly. I enjoyed a couple of slices of pumpkin bread with hot tea, after dinner. It was so incredibly good. I’ll prepare another loaf tomorrow night, to share Thursday.

I’m thankful for gluten free products and options such as maple syrup and coconut sugar.

Thankful for Habits of Health

Clear Skin Tea Blend

I ended this long day with a custom made tea blend. I’ve been reading Liver Rescue by Anthony William. It’s such an amazing book and I’m grateful for Anthony and all the healing information he provides. I’m excited to experience this next level of health that focusing on my liver will provide.

Reading about how healthy skin is connected to the health of my liver, I realized I had several of the herbs Anthony recommends as supplements. I combined them to create my own clear skin tea blend.

In 2 cups of very hot water, I combined 1 teaspoon of dried lemon balm, 1 teaspoon dried licorice root, and 1 teaspoon dried nettle. After steeping for 15 minutes, I sipped my special blend. It was so refreshing, so good. Each of these herbs supports and enhances liver function and heals and soothes an overheated liver burdened with toxins. Cleansing the liver ensures healthy, radiant skin and slows the signs of aging.

I’m thankful for the healing power of foods. I’ll be drinking this tea several times a week.

My day is ending, as it began, with drinks that nourish me at a deep level. I’m thankful that I’ve created health habits that support me and keep me healthy.

Thankful for Habits of Health