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Helping Joplin, Missouri

Two weeks ago on May 22nd, a massive tornado ripped through the town of Joplin, Missouri, killing 138 people.  Joplin is about 150 miles from my home.  Kelly, a fellow blogger in my area contacted me for help in sharing the word about her art auction that will benefit the people who are now trying to rebuild their lives.

Rocky Mountains

To learn more and to make a bid on this beautiful photograph (framed and ready to hang), please visit K Sime Photo today.
I have also decided to bring back my Love print and will be donating 100% of the money raised to United Way to help rebuild Joplin.
To see just a small glimpse of what the people of Joplin have been through, watch this video that shows a group of people taking shelter in a dark gas station, then watch this video as they revisit that same gas station after the storm.  This video shows you an aerial view of the damage.
To learn more visit Joplin, MO Tornado Recovery Facebook page, and to help out in other ways visit Rebuild Joplin.
Any amount you can give, big or small, will help.
Thank you.
Your Personal Reflection:  What are you grateful for today?

Special Thanks

"Love" for JapanIf you can’t feed a hundred people, then just feed one.  -Mother Teresa

BIG thanks to those of you who purchased a “Love” for Japan print.  Because of you, we have collected and donated $260 for the people of Japan.  They still need so much help and any amount, big or small, is a great gift.

The sales for this print will stay open for one more week.  Simply choose how much you wish to donate and you’ll receive a 10 x 10 print for your home.  Visit HERE for details.

Happy weekend!

Dear Mom,

me and mom
me and my mom

I write this to you after spending the 
last three hours nursing Ashton to sleep, 
then “talking stories” to Kestan 
and a bed full of dinosaurs.
I never appreciated just how much you did for me
until I became a mother.
The sleepless nights, the diapers, the teething, the tears,
the puke, the amazing amounts of gunk and crumbs I find throughout the house…
I had no idea how hard this job could be.  
And yet none of that ever really matters, 
because being a mother is just so dang rewarding.
My heart has expanded beyond measure.
My joy is endless.
Because my children are an amazing blessing.
Great, wonderful gifts.
Just as being your daughter is.
Thank you for teaching me how to 
With arms wide open.
I celebrate your wisdom today, 
and all the mothers who are 
or whoever will be.

Your Personal Reflection:  Thank a mother in your life today.

"Love" for Japan

Kindness in words creates confidence.  Kindness in thinking creates profoundness.  Kindness in giving creates love.  -Lao Tzu

I am taking a quick break from my April Unplugged challenge (which by the way is hard and I miss you all so much!) to share a new print I have for sale.

100% of the sales for my “Love” print are being donated to help the people of Japan affected by the horrible aftermaths of the recent earthquake and tsunami.

Take a look HERE for more information and make your donation today. You will receive your heart within two weeks.

Thanks for all you do and let’s keep sharing, connecting, growing and giving together!

xo, peace and love,

(My newsletter goes out next week.  Have you signed up?)

Let Your Inner Light Shine This Holiday

Dots and Blend lights
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most.  We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’  Actually, who are you not to be?  You are a child of God.  Your playing small does not serve the world.  There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  It’s not just in some of us; it’s in ALL of us.  And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  -Maryanne Williamson
As you see the holiday lights around you, remember that there is a bright light shining within you.  Let your light shine more brightly than before by being your most authentic self.  Feel your inner strength.  Recognize your inner beauty.  Connect to your inner peace.
The only thing that truly matters is THIS moment.  Breathe, smile and touch others with your warmth and kindness.  Wishing you a holiday filled with bright lights, present moment awareness, special connections, love, laughter, good food and good times….
I appreciate you and thank you for sharing your light with me.
Your Personal Reflection:  How will you let your light shine more brightly, from the inside out, this holiday?

7 ways to reduce clutter this holiday season

Christmas Presents

To continue my efforts toReduce Clutter; Make Space, I have to be more conscious of the decisions I make this holiday season.  For me, reducing physical and mental clutter is about being mindful.  I didn’t get rid of so much “stuff” this year just to acquire more. So I really want to be aware of the things I buy, the things I give, and the things I receive for Christmas.

Many of my family members want to keep the gift giving simple this year, too.  In fact, instead of giving each other big gifts, we adopted a family together.  Although we won’t get to see the kids open their presents, it sure feels good to give without expecting anything in return.

Here are some ideas and small changes you can make to simplify your gift giving while keeping the true meaning of the holiday season in perspective.

1) Bag the Gifts

How about instead of buying gifts for friends and family, you find a local family in need of the necessities.  That way you ensure your gifts won’t go to waste and you’ll be helping those who truly need it.

2) Give Experiences, Not Stuff  

How about giving a zoo membership to that special family in your life, or offer to baby-sit for those new parents, or consider planning a potluck game night with your best friends.  These types of experiences are so much fun and usually way more memorable than the stuff. (What about an e-course? Gift certificates are available for my new session of Inside Out!)

3) Limit the Dollar Amount   

I mentioned that my immediate family decided to adopt a family rather than give big presents.  But we still like surprises and opening gifts.  So we’ve decided to draw names and buy one gift each for $25 or less. Limiting the dollar amount will help you to not go overboard and it actually forces you to be more creative in choosing the right gift.

Felted Coffee Cozy
4) Recycle, Reuse and Re-gift!  

What can you make using recycled materials?  Did you see my felted sweater projects?  Check out Crafting a Green World for more ideas.  And I know some of you may think re-gifting is taboo, but think of it this way:  Look around the house for something that is very special to you, yet it has served its purpose and you are now ready to let it go.  I’m not talking about giving a white elephant gift or something you don’t like, but actually consider giving something you love that you are ready to pass on.

Hand-Made Wrapping Paper

Another idea:  How about making your own wrapping paper out of brown paper bags and your tags out of scraps you find around the house?

5) Avoid Plastic  

It takes hundreds of years for plastic to decompose.  Isn’t that horrifying when you think about that stuff filling up our landfills?  Look for natural and organic items when possible.  Check out Hip Mountain Mama’s shop for ideas.

6) Buy Local & Support Independent Artists  

If you do plan on spending money, consider doing so in your own area and from independent artists and businesses.  This is a great way to support your local community.  If you don’t know many artists in your area, check out Etsy.  There are many amazing independent artists on that site who offer beautiful and unique products!  Here are a few of my favorite shops:  Artsyville, Ampersand Shop, Gypsy Forest, and Mishmish Market.

Lavender Bath Salt
7) Make Gifts With Meaning  

I’m a sucker for handmade gifts.  I love receiving things made from friends and family and I really enjoy making gifts, too.  Check out my Pinterest board Holiday Fun for more ideas.

Lavender Bath Salts
* glass jar
* 2 cups Epsom salt
* 2 T baking soda
* approximately 20 drops of lavender essential oil
* contents of two chamomile tea bag
(makes one jar)
Mix all of the ingredients together and fill the jar to the top.  Another option: add olive oil to the top of the jar for added moisturizer.  Remember to make an extra one for yourself and treat yourself to a relaxing soak in the tub!  

Olive Oil Salt Scrub

I’m by no means an expert in this area, but reducing clutter over the last year has been a wonderful learning and life-changing experience for me.  I am fully enjoying the season and don’t have the stress that can be so prevalent this time of year.

Simplifying this year’s gift giving will help you reduce clutter and create space for the quality time we all so desperately need.  Let’s give presence, rather than all the presents, and make our celebrations more mindful, meaningful and memorable!

Your Personal Reflection:  

Are you getting caught up in the frenzy of the holiday season?  What simple changes can you make this year to be more present with your loved ones?  Take a deep breath, slow down and find stillness…doing so will be the greatest gift you can give yourself.


The winner of the…

Hip Mountain Mama $30 gift certificate is…
Thanks for stopping by and for leaving your fabulous comments.  I’ll be introducing another free spirit soon with another great give-away!
And mark your calendars…registration for Inside Out: A Creative Adventure of Self-Discovery opens December 1st!
Your Personal Reflection:  Are you ready to make 2011 the best year yet?

Simple Gratitude

My boys
Last night we drove many, many miles to attend a Christmas in the Park celebration.  The flyer said there would be a fireworks show and then the park would open, where we would have the opportunity to drive around the lake and look at the hundreds of light displays.  I was excited for it all day.  We put on our jammies, piled in the car and turned on the Christmas music.  
And we drove and drove and drove…
We got a little lost.  We arrived a little late.  We saw the end of the fireworks show from the shoulder of a busy road.  And the only light displays we saw after that were the hundreds of tail and headlights from all the traffic!  We never did find the display of lights at the lake and when we finally asked a cop, he said something about it being over and shooed us to keep driving. 
The night was a total bust!  We drove for two hours, pulled over to nurse 2 times, got frustrated about the directions and my head started to hurt.  I was disappointed for my family as I was anticipating this event all afternoon.  I had been building it up for Kestan, too…”We are going to see fireworks tonight and tons of Christmas lights around a lake!”  
As we drove away, Kestan said, “Where are the lights by the lake?”  And just as I was getting ready to explain to him that we couldn’t find (or just completely missed) the event, he exclaimed, “Oh, there are some Christmas lights!”  He noticed a farm house on the side of the road that had, to our luck, decked out their house like the Griswolds.  And he was happy.
We pulled over for the third time so I could nurse Ashton, and Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas song came on the radio.  Kestan laughed and laughed.  And so did we.  
And in that moment I remembered…it’s the simplest things that bring such great joy to our lives.  It’s finding gratitude in every moment that makes life so very special.
We didn’t need to drive hours for some grand light production to kick off our holiday weekend.  We simply needed the time and space to be together.
And it’s moments like these that I’m most grateful for today.
Your Personal Reflection:  On this day of giving thanks, what are you most thankful for in THIS moment?
Today is the last day to enter for your chance to win a great gift from Hip Mountain Mama.  Check it out HERE.

The winner of the…

Congratulations!  And thanks to each of you for entering this random drawing.

Check back tomorrow for the next Free Spirit Spotlight interview and for your chance to win another great gift.

Your Personal Reflection:  Do you openly accept the gifts that come into your life?

With Complete Gratitude…

I believe everyone is an artist.  Everyone.  I believe we all are born creative.  All of us.  I believe each of us has a unique set of gifts and talents, with an imagination that needs to be discovered, explored and nurtured, and an individuality that makes us US, and a connection that makes us ONE.  I believe we all have the ability to inspire.
For nearly 10 years I have worked at an art studio that strives to nurture the creativity in children and their families.  This special place has been provided free as a public service and creative gift to our community by one of the largest greeting card companies in the world for close to 40 years.

I started working there full-time and eventually reduced my hours to part-time to pursue teaching yoga and my deep desire to make art with yarn and felt.  For the last year I’ve only worked one day a week so that I could not only grow my creativity and holistic life-coaching career, but also to stay-at-home with my sweet boy.
This past Friday marked my last weekday.  (I can’t seem to step away completely – I’ll be going back just one Saturday a month after my maternity leave.)  But I’ve made the decision to keep both my boys out of daycare to stay-at-home and work-from-home on the things I love most.  

This job has been really good to me.  It’s where I met the love of my life.

It’s where I learned to knit.
It has been the stepping stone that I needed to make my dreams a reality.  
And on my last day something really cool happened.  The day itself was pretty uneventful.  I worked as usual, had a quiet lunch, said good-bye to a few friends, and then towards the end of the day I check my mailbox one last time.  

I found a letter from someone I’ve never met and I have no idea why the letter was addressed to me.  The man who wrote the letter shared that 25 years ago he remembered visiting this art studio as a child and he reflected on how it was such a joyful experience for him, one that let his creativity run wild and free.  
He goes on to say, “I write to you with gratitude from the child of my youth, the child within, and the grateful adult I have become for the special impact this [art studio] has had on my life.  …I also write to you as part of a lifelong dream of mine that has been of great importance and value in my life as of late due to a recent diagnosis of colon cancer for which I anticipate a successful recovery.  It has, I admit, been a lifelong dream of mine to write a book as a tribute to those special to me. The idea came to me in the last year to honor these special to me with their thoughts of gratitude and personal legacies in a book for others to learn about, be inspired by, and appreciate these people.  …more importantly I hope to have this collection of inspiration available for my loved ones to reinforce their gratitude and inspire them in the event that I may one day not be around…
I would be honored to know your thoughts on the following questions:
1) What are you grateful for?
2) What gratitude do you hope others will have for you?  That is, what legacy do you hope to leave for others?”
He ends the letter by saying, “I wish you all the best in the realization of your dreams and the realization of the dreams of those special to you.”
Is that not amazing?
And to receive this letter on my last day, where I’m taking bold, big steps to continue manifesting my own personal dreams?
So I ask you today to please take some time to reflect on these two questions and if you are so willing, I would love for you to share with me here.  I haven’t yet answered the questions myself.  And I promise to share when I do.  What I can say is I’m completely grateful to the universe for bringing this letter my way.  
So thank you, Mr. Letter Writer, for posing such thoughtful and positive questions for us all to reflect on.  You are an inspiration.
Your Personal Reflection:  What are you grateful for?  What gratitude do you hope others will have for you?  That is, what legacy do you hope to leave for others?