Oliver’s Birthday Experience

In the middle of the Yaya and Grandchild Christmas shopping trips, I hit “pause” today for a birthday dinner and shopping experience. Grandson Oliver celebrates his 10th birthday Monday. He will get to go Christmas shopping for his family next Wednesday. We spent the day together on this gorgeous Saturday, focusing on him rather than others.

This grandchild waits very patiently for his birthday excursion at the end of the year. He knows his turn is coming. And he doesn’t mind that his birthday and Christmas are exactly one week apart. A birthday is a birthday, after all. No combined celebrations for him.

As with my other grandkids, Oliver got to choose where he ate his birthday meal and where and how he wanted to spend the birthday money I gave him. We had such a fun day together.

Where the other grandchildren have chosen to spend their money of things that they wanted, or in my oldest grandson’s case, things he needed, Oliver continued down a different path that he initially embarked on last year.

Oliver prefers to do things, rather than purchase things. He chooses to experience fun and create memories over buying more stuff. He selected the mall as his destination, and his birthday celebration began in earnest.

With his birthday cash, he bought a small amount of candy at the mall sweet shop, and an inexpensive remote control helicopter. The rest of his afternoon was spent being an active participant in his own celebration.

Oliver experienced the Spider Jump, a favorite activity for him, where he bounds high into the air and flips forwards and backwards. He tried out the newly set up Virtual Reality pods, selecting a dinosaur park to explore. This boy talked me into joining him. Although the experience was interesting, we both felt it could have been better.

We spent the bulk of our time together at TILT, the arcade located at the mall. Oliver loaded a card there with cash, which he could then easily scan at the various games he played. He joined other kids a couple of times in the laser tag area, drove race cars, went on dangerous virtual missions requiring skill with weapons and beat me several times at air hockey.

I tagged along, cheering him on, watching him play, listening to his lively chatter. This is what I love about these one on one times with the kids, seeing them shine as their unique selves and hearing what’s on their minds.

These was incredibly cool, a mission impossible style crawl across a room full of laser beams. Oliver selected the hardest level…and in 74 seconds was slapping the check point button on the opposite wall, all without breaking a single beam.

We concluded Oliver’s birthday experience at his restaurant of choice, Cracker Barrel. There he enjoyed a hearty breakfast for dinner and a decadent piece of chocolate cake with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. As we dined, we talked.

Oliver is a great conversationalist. He always asks me about my work and what I am currently enjoying in my journey. He asks great questions, like this one that he posed tonight: Yaya, what has been your favorite age? And he followed up with a Tell me why… when I answered.

I love watching this boy as he shifts into a young man. Oliver is thoughtful, polite to the people assisting him, and very curious about the world and the way things work. I am fascinated with his desire to experience his birthday by doing rather than buying items, and I look forward to seeing where this trend of his goes. It is wonderful to see Oliver, younger brother to Joey, older brother to Aubrey, becoming more and more his own person, sure about who he is and what he wants to do.

Happiest of birthdays, Oliver. I appreciate who you are, and who you are becoming. Thank you for spending time with me, sharing your thoughts and your heart and your unique perspectives. I love you!

Joy Multiplied

I truly do love this time of year. From the big family Halloween party at the end of October, to the beginning of a shiny New Year, this is a season of incredible joy and special connections and marvelous fun. At the center of it all is family.

I spent the afternoon and evening with granddaughter Aubrey, on outing two of five of the annual Yaya and Grandchild Christmas shopping tradition.

I can tell my grandchildren are growing up, beyond my observations of how tall they are getting or how mature our conversations have become. Their shopping habits are changing.

As she did for her birthday shopping trip, Aubrey avoided the toy store for our Christmas outing, preferring the mall and a big box type store. She shopped wisely and with great care for her family members, not wanting to waste any time in shops that did not have what she was looking for.

She did pause to point out a cute outfit, in case I needed any gift ideas for her. However, her focus, for the most part, was on others and surprising them with thoughtful purchases.

I love these one on one excursions with each grandchild, following them as they browse, listening to their chatter and observing their gift selection process. Each child is unique and has his or her own way of making decisions.

Aubrey chose Popeye’s for dinner, hungry for their cajun chicken, mildly seasoned for her, mac & cheese and biscuits. We continued conversations we had started in the car, including one on the serious topic of bullying. I questioned her about bullying in her school, and was relieved by her answer. However, we discussed the importance of standing up for ourselves and for others who are being picked on, and that it is always okay to talk to an adult if she notices a child being treated unkindly.

After that conversation, Aubrey found a yellow wrist band on the sidewalk outside of a store, with “No bullying” written on it. She asked about the big word that describes when things connect unexpectedly, leading to a chat about synchronicities! I love the interesting flow of life, and I love Aubrey’s heart.

At my house Aubrey made quick work of wrapping her gifts, writing her own gift tags and selecting bags and tissue paper. And then it was time to take her home, after a successful and fun evening.

I thought again tonight about how magical this season is. For me there is deep gratitude, a recognition of blessings and Divine guidance, and appreciation for gifts that cannot be wrapped, only experienced and held in the heart.

I love the sights and sounds of Christmas, the crisp cold air, the warmth of home, the joy that surrounds me and overflows my heart. And, that joy is magnified and multiplied by these grandchildren who share shopping trips and stories and meals and dreams with me. This is my favorite part of the most wonderful time of the year.

Store Review: Natural Grocers

I have looked forward to this day since I first learned Joplin was getting a full service health-centric grocery store. I’ve watched with keen anticipation as the building went up, at the busy corner of 7th and Range Line.

This morning, Natural Grocers opened its doors in Joplin, launching the store with a day full of activities designed to draw the curious and the excited within. I inhabited both categories! I grabbed a shopping cart and wheeled through the store late this afternoon.

I went to their website to research this company, with 143 stores currently in its corporation, and I was impressed and inspired. Margaret and Philip Isely started Natural Grocers with $200 that they borrowed, and the earnest desire that everyone should be able to afford a healthy lifestyle and be empowered to take control of their health.

They began by going door to door in Golden, Colorado, lending out books on nutrition, talking to people about their health, and giving samples of whole grain bread. They would return after a couple of weeks to answer questions and take orders for the bread, nutritional supplements and natural, nourishing foods.

During a time when TV dinners and convenience foods were enjoying their heyday, the Iseleys bucked convention and taught that nutrition was the foundation of a healthy life. Margaret had personally experienced that change in lifestyle. After the birth of her second child, she became chronically ill. When traditional medicine did not help or heal her, she turned to eating nutrient dense, natural foods and taking dietary supplements. Margaret healed herself and that became the impetus for what she would offer to others.

In 1989 the Iseleys switched to a store format, incorporating an organic produce section. The following year they removed all partially hydrogenated oil products from their shelves, a move that was years ahead of the times. In 1995 they formalized their nutrition education programs, creating a Nutritional Health Coach position. Every store offers classes on health and nutrition. A few years later the stores went bag free, creating a huge impact on the health of the environment. And in 2014 the company rolled out their pasture-based dairy standards and began the process of removing products that came from confinement dairies from their shelves.

The Iseley’s story resonates with me and endears me to their story even more. I can identify with Margaret and her decision to reclaim her health. I believe there is currently another major shift taking place, led by people like Anthony William, as people become more and more sick. Facing diagnoses of mystery illnesses and autoimmune disorders, and finding marginal relief of symptoms with very few cures, people with chronic pain and illnesses are discovering the amazing healing properties of natural, nutritious food. I am among those taking back their health. And Natural Grocers desires to support and help me, and others, with that process.

Natural Grocers was a joy to be in today. The parking lot was full, as was the clean, well lit store. The staff was cheerful and helpful, in spite of being busy restocking shelves. For people weren’t just looking. They were shopping. They were asking questions and reading labels and dropping items into their carts.

I loved the store. One hundred percent of the produce is organic. The canned goods and frozen foods are organic and non GMO. There are shelves of bulk items such as raw nuts, dry legumes and rices, spices and seasonings and grains. I found non dairy products such a yogurt, made from almond and coconut milk, unsulphured dried apricots and a huge gluten free section.

In addition to an incredible array of nutritional foods, Natural Grocers sells healthy pet products, vitamins and supplements, environmentally friendly paper goods and body care products. I was delighted to see that I can pick up chemical and dye free hair and shower products, as well as hand soaps and cleaning products. One of my goals for 2018 is to eliminate chemicals from all of the products that I use in my home and on my body. I will be looking to Young Living Essential Oils for help in this area. However, it is great to know this grocery store supports my decision as well.

I was extremely impressed with Natural Grocers today. I love that they offer health and nutrition classes. I appreciate their ongoing mission and the passion this family owned company has for supporting people in their health journeys. I was wowed by their product selection and their competitive pricing.

This store became my primary grocery store this afternoon. I look forward to getting to know the product and attending classes and exploring new foods and ideas. As they support my healing journey, I will support them by showing up and making purchases and recommending their services and wares to others. Well done, Iseley Family. Let’s journey together.

The Heart of My Day

My day has been spent being Yaya to two of my grandchildren. As a grandmother, that is one of the best ways I can spend my time, investing in my grandkids and being loved by them.

Grandson Jonathan and I kicked off the yearly Christmas Shopping with Yaya tradition. I take each of the grandkids out to purchase gifts for their family members and treat them to the meal of their choice.

Jonathan is an excellent shopper who knows what he wants to buy for his family, and he wastes no time in accomplishing this task. We chatted as we made several stops, and Jonathan introduced me to Snapchat, creating a profile for me as I drove. This young man is my techie grandchild, and I laughed as he crafted a bitmoji to represent me.

Jonathan has such a tender heart as well. As we pulled into the Walmart parking lot, he noticed a family holding up a hand lettered sign, asking for gas money. We purchased Christmas gift bags and tissue paper in the store…and picked up a gift card to give to the family as we left. This was Jonathan’s idea, and I was happy to encourage and support his generosity.

We grabbed carry out lunches from Applebee’s and returned to the house to wrap gifts and watch an episode of Stranger Things together.

I appreciate Jonathan. He is smart, funny and easy to talk to. He has big ideas and he is working on being able to carry them out. Someday he will be creating apps that make life easier or more fun for people. In the meantime, he is expanding his compassionate heart by being mindful of others and making a difference where he can.

This evening my granddaughter Aubrey joined me for a sleep over. It’s been a while since she has spent the night and both of us were excited about this special treat. Her thoughts about it…”We are having a granddaughter and grandmother slumber party. Some might find that weird. I think it’s fun!” I agree, Aubrey.

This beautiful girl is growing up. As we dined together at Texas Roadhouse she kept up a very mature chatter about school, football, friends and movies. Her current favorite film is 47 Meters Down, a shark flick. Aubrey has interesting and refreshing views about life, people and situations and I always enjoy a conversation with her.

I left my phone unattended for a few minutes, and found this surprise as my new background!

Aubrey knows her way around a cell phone as well, and offered to further my education in Snapchat. After donning our pjs and getting ready for bed, Aubrey gave me some quick lessons in using this photo based app. We laughed over the special effects and she patiently led me through creating my first Snapchat pic.

These kids are precious to me. I enjoyed spending my day divided between two of the grandkids. This week I will set up times to take the rest of my group shopping for Christmas gifts. That’s a fun activity, watching how thoughtfully and carefully each child shops. The greater joy though is just spending time with them, hearing their thoughts, learning what’s important to them, and encouraging them to follow their hearts.

Yaya is a sacred title to me. I am blessed to bear that name in honor of these five adventurous souls.

Sending Cheer Through the Mail

This has been a day devoted to writing. I polished up a couple of essays before sending them out. The Inspiration Starter for today involved more writing, of a health piece. That was my afternoon project. This evening I am excited to kick off the 12 Days of Love Letter Writing, sponsored by the organization More Love Letters.

I first participated in this annual campaign last December. The objective is simple and beautiful. More Love Letters posts a new name each day, December 4 – 15, and a brief story about the person on their website. Letters of encouragement, cheer and love are sent to a family member or friend who then delivers the bundle of notes to the recipient.

I was deeply moved last year by the stories shared about good people who were struggling with illnesses, loneliness, discouragement or life changing situations, such as the death of a loved one. None of the recipients know they have been nominated to receive a bundle of love letters. I hope the surprise brings them the intended cheer and encouragement, and helps them to know that their lives matter and they are loved.

This year, on Day 1, the first love letter goes to Chris, a young man who feels very isolated and despondent because of a severe medical condition he was born with. As a child he was cheerful and sang to others, in spite of numerous surgeries and frequent hospitalizations. Life is feeling much different for Chris now, who is in his mid twenties. He still lives with his parents and relationships are difficult for him because he fears no one could love him due to his medical conditions and his physical limitations.

Chris’ story touched my heart. Although I don’t know this young man, when I thought about him and opened my heart toward him, I sensed his courageous spirit. He has been an overcomer and a thriver and the world so needs his light and his courage.

A new name, and another story, will be posted tomorrow. It only takes me a few minutes to write a love letter and my intention is to sit quietly each evening and send hope and cheer to the day’s recipient. More than just writing the words, I want to remain mindful of each person and energetically send them love, comfort and encouragement.

I hope Chris is feeling waves of love tonight, even though he is unaware that people around the world are thinking of him and putting words of love onto paper, on his behalf. I hope, for him, that there is a lifting of his spirits in anticipation of what is to come…a great outpouring of love and encouragement.

If you would like to participate in this uplifting experience, and send cheer through the mail to dear ones needing encouragement, please visit

www.moreloveletters.com

The Willingness to Put it Into Words

I drew an Inspiration Starter early this morning, as I was about to leave town for a family birthday party in the neighboring state of Oklahoma. I have learned to lean into trust when I play these creative games. Many of the slips of paper in my jar would not work on a day when I am away from home and traveling. However, I trust that the perfect activity will be selected as I draw out a folded piece of paper. Yesterday’s amazing chain of events reinforced that belief.

This morning I pulled this Inspiration Starter from the jar:

What a beautiful way to spend my evening, after I returned home…expressing thankfulness to people who are making a difference in my life and in the world.

Margaret Cousins wrote: “Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary.”

As I assembled an assortment of thank you cards and pens, I asked for guidance on who to express appreciation to. There are so many in my circle of family, friendships, colleagues and acquaintances that have had an impact on me. The ten who came to mind, one by one, are the dear souls that I took the time to thank tonight.

This is what I love about writing out notes of gratitude…I am physically and energetically sending appreciation and encouragement to others, while at the same time raising my own vibrational frequency to a very high level. Expressing thanks to others creates in me a greater appreciation for life and the Divine, and a greater awareness of all the goodness in my life.

Tonight I wrote out seven thank you cards, that will be mailed or delivered. And I sent three written thank you’s by way of private messages on social media. I followed my heart, and allowed expression to flow without expectation of anything in return.

Truly, I have already been blessed, having each of these people in my life. And sincerely, this is a practice I wish to continue, sending thank you notes, whether on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. My willingness to make it so is all that is necessary.

Giving Tuesday 2017

I’m getting a very late start on my blog post tonight, due to a full day. However, I paused long enough to honor the day, which is Giving Tuesday, and make donations to the organizations of my choice.

Giving Tuesday, also referred to as #givingtuesday, is an international day set aside for donating funds or time to charities and organizations around the world.

This special day, which is always observed the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, was created in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation.

I learned about #givingtuesday in 2015, and it has become a yearly event for me. I typically celebrate Thanksgiving with family, and devote focused awareness on gratitude. I sometimes participate in Black Friday. This year I did. I sometimes participate in Cyber Monday. This year I did. Since learning of Giving Tuesday, I have always participated.

Here are the recipients of my donations this year:

BlinkNow – Created and run by 31 year old Maggie Doyne, this organization is in its 10th year. Traveling after high school graduation, Maggie was deeply touched by the children in Nepal, who were living in destitution. With her savings of $5000, Maggie began to care for children who were without parents, homes, education, medical care and basic necessities. In 10 years she has built a children’s home, a school, and a women’s center, and her organization provides necessities, education and medical care. Maggie is Mom and guardian to 50 children.

Check out BlinkNow HERE.

TOGETHER RISING – founded by blogger, author and activist Glennon Doyle, this organization began through Glennon’s blog, Momastery. Women began reaching out in tangible ways to help each other. Today Together Rising restores hope by helping women and families in crisis and by responding immediately to disasters around the world by raising and sending funds and necessities.

Check out TOGETHER RISING HERE.

World Vision – this Christian based organization has created programs that benefit children, families and communities in need, around the world. They offer child sponsorships, medical and school supplies, food, sustainable living by way of seeds, fruit trees and farm animals, clothing and clean water.

Learn more about World Vision HERE.

Haven of Hope Rescue Foundation and Carthage Humane Society – both of these organizations aid animals by rescuing dogs (Carthage rescues other animals as well), and helping to place them in foster homes and ultimately into forever homes by way of adoption.

Haven of Hope, based in the Oklahoma City area, has saved hundreds of dogs since 2009. Check them out HERE.

And Carthage Humane Society has been in operation since 1948. Their mission is to provide a safe haven for animals in their care and aid in finding suitable homes for those pets. Find out more about them HERE.

Of course, donations and the volunteering of time and services can, and should, take place year round. I am grateful though, in the midst of this busy holiday time, that there is a special day for focusing on those people and organizations that live the giving lifestyle 24/7. These people and groups are making a difference in the world. Our attention and awareness, our funds, our time, supports them in their efforts.

And that is such a good thing. That’s #givingtuesday. Together we can change the world.

The Gift of Gratitude

Today concludes a week of focused attention on gratitude, the high frequency feeling of thankfulness. I was inspired to spend this week thus, because of Thanksgiving. Rather that spend a day saying “thank you”, I chose to be mindful of the large and small blessings in my life during the days before and after this national holiday. That desire created a beautiful, soulful week.

My gratitudes this past week were expressed for major blessings, such as family, health, a plant based lifestyle, business, creativity, writing and the life expanding gift of travel.

And my days were full of gratitude for the small things: fall flowers, the beauty of nature, laughter, meeting new people, scoring bargains, finding the perfect Christmas tree, a fun movie with my sister (review tomorrow), and the many nods, winks and love notes from the Divine that assures me that my trust is well placed and my life path true.

It truly has been a joy filled week. And because my attention has been focused on gratitude, I have found much to be grateful for. It is more than appreciation for people and things and experiences. It is also the awareness that gratitude has the power to shift me, and shift my perceptions of the world.

It is difficult to be anxious, sad, indignant, judgmental or angry when I am counting my blessings. Beyond appreciation, gratitude has fostered fun, thoughtfulness, peace, kindness and compassion.

Robert Holden wrote, “The real gift of gratitude is that the more grateful you are, the more present you become.”

I have found that to be true this week. I’ve looked at the world differently, aware of all the gifts I have been given. In that state of mindfulness, there is no room for mentally shuffling through incidents from the past or projecting into the future. Noticing my blessings keeps me grounded in the present, as my life unfolds moment by moment.

The Week of Gratitude is over, however, I am continuing to cultivate this virtue. And the prayer I whisper all day long truly is thank you.

O Christmas Tree

A simple gratitude post this evening, for a simple joy, bringing home this year’s Christmas tree. Today I packed up the fall decor. This evening, tabletops and shelves are empty, blank canvases awaiting creativity. Tomorrow the Christmas boxes get unpacked.

With temperatures in the 60s this afternoon, it was the perfect time to pick out my Christmas tree at Lowe’s Garden Center. No coat, hat or gloves were required. No shivering in the cold as I sorted through trees. I am grateful for such a gorgeous day and a pretty little fresh Fraser Fir.

I have always preferred a real Christmas tree. While I see the benefits of having an artificial tree, I love the earthy scent of a fresh tree and the feel of soft needles as I decorate. At one time Greg and I cut our own tree each Christmas. It is much easier and quicker to select one that has already been cut at a Christmas tree farm. Selecting a tree at Lowe’s is my yearly tradition.

The only thing that has changed over the years is the height of the tree. I used to purchase a seven foot tree. Then I downsized to one close to six feet. Now, my tree is in the five to six foot range. They are easier to handle, at this size, and easier to decorate as well. They still smell just as fragrant.

Lowe’s always has a great selection of Fraser Firs and Douglas Pines, in a variety of sizes.

I make careful considerations: Not too skimpily branched. No glaring empty spots. Nice shape. Not to big around. Greg stood trees up as I selected them so I could view them from all angles. Tree number three was perfect!

The attendant in the garden center made a fresh cut at the base and wrapped the tree in netting. They always have a bin of cuttings, free for the taking. I bring home green pine boughs, to use on the front porch.

I am full of gratitude for a mild sunny day in late November, fresh, aromatic Fraser Fir trees, Lowe’s Garden Center with its kind helpers, my friend Mike for the use of his truck, and Greg’s assistance in getting my sweet smelling tree home.

Tonight the tree is relaxing in its spot in my living room, drinking in cool water. It is as yet unadorned. However its scent wafts to me every time I walk by or enter the room.

Tomorrow, I decorate.

“O Christmas tree, O Christmas, how lovely are thy branches…”

Black Friday Fun

To many, being grateful for Black Friday may seem crazy. I am though…grateful, that is, not crazy. Do I care what other people choose to believe? Nope. Not only did I save money…I had fun…met new people…shared in an adventure…laughed…and got to order something I’ve been wanting for a while.

I hear all kinds of negatives about this day. And people are certainly entitled to their opinions. I choose not to be negative, even though I don’t always go out and participate. As one who worked in retail prior to real estate, I know how crucial this day can be to businesses, especially small, locally owned shops. For many, their business surviving the next year is dependent on this day and the holiday season. And for people with limited funds, their hard earned cash goes farther when they can take advantage of deep discounts.

And for some, the thrill of the hunt is plain fun for them. My sister Debbie and niece Ashley excel at finding bargains. For me, I don’t typically shop on Thanksgiving Day, or stand in line in the dark before stores open at 5:00 am. I wait until noonish to venture out, if I have a reason for shopping. However those who enjoy Black Friday shopping and make an adventure out of it or create a family tradition around it…you go…and have fun.

My own adventure was precipitated by the need for a new blender. Mixing a fruit smoothie daily, plus additional heavy use since going plant based, has killed off my ancient blender. It was time for a new one. I purposefully waited until today to purchase one, sure I could get a great deal. I was not wrong! With the Black Friday sale at Kohl’s, plus a coupon I had received by mail, plus $30 Kohl’s bucks to spend later, I bought a top of the line $199.99 Ninja Blender for $105.99. I am so excited to create with this awesome kitchen appliance!

Also at Kohl’s I purchased six other items, spending $41.27 for items that normally would have totaled $159.08. My total saving today at Kohl’s: $211.81. That’s awesome…and certainly something to be grateful for. But the best part of being at that store today? Standing in line with positive, joyful people that I had never met before.

I started my shopping at noon. Apparently others had the same idea about beginning later in the day. The store was packed and lines stretched to the back of the store. You know what? If you are going to shop on Black Friday you’d better just be prepared to stand in line and make the best of it. Of the hundreds of people I encountered, I only heard two shoppers complain. Shhhh…they were both males.

The two ladies in front of me in line and the one behind me were of like minds. We decided we might as well have fun while we waited. Our thoughts create our reality. So guess what? We had a blast. We chatted like old friends. We told stories. We held the place in line for each other and took turns darting to displays to pick up something else. I grabbed a sweater in the right size for one of my new friends. She tried it on and asked how she looked. She looked beautiful. The staff at Kohl’s did a great job at managing crowds and had every register open with two sales associates per check out. Cheers to all of them!

The woman in front of me, who had an adorable little daughter with her, shops Black Friday sales out of necessity. Her money goes farther. She can spend less and accomplish more. The woman behind me was elderly. She was purchasing clothing for herself. Same motivation. Her limited funds can do more. This is a yearly event for her, when she buys essentials for herself.

Greg, who had dropped me at the door, came into the store to find me. One of the ladies waved him over and called out, “She’s making new friends!” She was right. Cheers too, to Greg, who had a wonderful cheerful attitude as well and chose to make it a fun afternoon.

Back home, I went online and picked out this little beauty for me, from Boho Style, at a $20 savings. Check it out HERE. This silver feather ring has significance for me, and I was deeply touched that it popped up on my newsfeed today. More about that later. Let me just say this was a playful wink from the Divine.

And then another delightful surprise. I’ve been wanting to order the Ancestry DNA kit and have my DNA tested. I know I am primarily Scottish, Irish and English. Or am I? I can trace my Lauderdale roots back to Lauder, Scotland. But lots of families have married into the Lauderdale line down through the centuries. Where did they originate? I am so excited to get a map of my heritage.

I intended to order the kits last Wednesday, one for me and one for Greg, as our children will then have a complete heritage background. Normally $99 each, the kits were on special for $79. I use a special loadable debit card for online purchases, for security reasons. When I went to load my card Wednesday, the lines were long and I had cooking to do at home. I decided to wait until today to order. Today through Monday…Black Friday through Cyber Monday…the Ancestry DNA kits are reduced to $59 each. I purchased three, including one for my college aged grandson. Savings: $120. More gratitude…more joy…great excitement!

As a bonus, I joined Ancestry.com. I am in the process of transferring the info in my overstuffed-pages falling out-genealogy notebook into Ancestry’s easy to use online family tree system. I am already discovering more valuable info.

What an incredibly fun day. How tender my heart feels for those who dared to shop today, whatever their reasons for doing so. How empathetic I feel towards those working today. I worked Black Fridays in retail for years, alongside Greg and all three of my children. We can tell stories that make listeners laugh, shake their heads…or cry.

Today, I saved a total of $351.81 by shopping Black Friday sales, both in stores and online. Monday is Cyber Monday. I already have items waiting in a shopping cart on Amazon. I expect to save big there too.

And Tuesday? That day is Giving Tuesday, a national day set aside for corporations and individuals to give to the charities and organizations of their choice. It’s a day to make a difference. I participate every year. The money I saved today…and will save Monday…at least part of it will be distributed to several organizations that I support. Saving money on Black Friday let’s me make more of a difference on Giving Tuesday. This year I have a new organization to help people through. I’ll be giving to them in my name and the names of my five grandchildren.

And for that opportunity , I am extremely grateful.