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Day #1: Thirty Days of Giving Thanks Challenge

Thank you cards
You cannot do a kindness too soon 
because you never know how soon it will be too late.  
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
It’s day one of the Thirty Days of Giving Thanks challenge and I’m REALLY excited!  This is something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Many times throughout the day I’ll catch myself thinking, “Ooh, I want to thank her for that,” Or “I really want to write her a letter.” But with the busy-ness of kids and work and life the day flies by and well, you know the story.
But with a challenge such as this, giving thanks is on the forefront of my mind.  I’m much more conscious of it.  And I’m thrilled to see so many of you up for the challenge, too. Thank YOU for joining me.  
This morning I organized my cards, envelopes, pens and stamps, and have set up a special little spot for them on my art table.  Now – no more excuses!  
Thank you close up
For day one, I wrote a letter to my friend who recently sent me a gift card for Starbucks out-of-the-blue with a note that simply read, Have a cup of coffee on me.  I thanked her for her friendship and asked her to meet me for a coffee date, where I can treat her to the next cup.
If this sounds like something you’d like to try, join us!  Let me know in the comments or email me at  I will add you to the list of participants to the left of my blog.  (If I haven’t added you yet, please let me know!)
Your Personal Reflection:  Who will you thank today?  Or what are you thankful for?  If you use Facebook share with us on my Free Spirit Knits page or if you use Twitter send out a tweet using #thirtydaysofthanks.  Thank YOU!

November Challenge – Thirty Days of Giving Thanks

It’s simple.
Take a moment each day in November and thank someone in your life. 
Send a text, make a call, leave a post-it,  
write an old fashioned letter…

Make eye contact.
And say, “thanks.”
It doesn’t matter how you thank them.  Simply think of someone in your life – each day – and tell them why you are thankful for them.  Give them your thanks.
Thank thirty people in thirty days.
Can’t think of thirty people?  
Look more closely at the people you encounter in a day. 
The postman.
The barista.
The nice man at the bank.
The woman who always stamps your parking ticket.
Your neighbor down the street.
Is there a local store owner who makes you feel welcome every time you shop? 
Do you have a favorite sacker at the grocery store?
How about someone you work with that makes you laugh?
Is there a person from your past that you always wished you would have thanked?
Do you have a favorite hair stylist, or a massage therapist, or have you appreciated the listening ear of a good friend?
Did you ever thank your favorite teacher?
Has anyone helped change the course of your life?
What about someone you are really close to – like your kids or spouse – what thanks would you like to share with them?
If you choose to join us – let me know!  You can leave a comment here, or email me at
Post your stories on my Facebook Page, share your blog links there, too.  Send out tweets and use #thirtydaysofthanks to mark your posts.  
And as a special thanks from me to you, check back weekly the entire month of November for your chance to win some fabulous give-aways.


Grab a badge.
(Thank you, Meg, for your awesome design!
Thank you, Michelle, for the code!)

Spread the word.

And let’s enjoy 
Thirty Days of Giving Thanks

Helping One Another


The Twist and Shout art auction for Joplin was this past weekend and it was AMAZING. Over 100 pieces of art were created out of the tornado debris and the event collected nearly $24,000!I wanted to share more photos of the artwork with you, but only had my iPhone and it was just too dark.  Visit this blog and you can see a glimpse of some of the artwork. Watch this video to learn more about the creation of this wonderful event.  (See more about the piece I created in my previous post.)

This photo needs no description.

I had the privilege to meet the woman in this photo the night of the auction.  Anne lost everything in her home.  She shared her personal story with my mom and me, as tears filled her eyes.  Yet, she had an amazing sense of strength and gratitude, and dare I say, happiness.  She had a smile from ear-to-ear and said she could feel the love in the room. And oh was she right.  The love and care and compassion everyone was exuding that night was truly magical.
This duplex has already been rebuilt and Anne’s landlord wondered if she’d be returning. She told us, “How could I live in a place and think, There’s where my mother’s china use to be, and know I didn’t have that anymore?”  She showed us photos of her new home – a beautiful cottage with a wraparound porch.  Anne is a grief counselor and this new house has a special place where she can work with her clients.  I asked Anne how this tornado has changed her life, and although it’s still so fresh, she knows it has given her a new sense of power, one she carries with her and shares with her clients when they are going through the many challenges they face.  We hugged and thanked her for sharing.
Meeting Anne was a blessing – she is such an inspiration.

Here’s the chalkboard robot my husband created using parts of an old door.

And here’s the beautiful woman who purchased my felted piece, “Rising Up,” – my mom! The piece had several other bidders, but in the end, my mom won, and she was so happy.  And so was I!  We had such a nice time sharing the evening together, which included many serendipitous moments, too.
160 people lost their lives.  Many lost everything they owned.  Many, many lives were changed forever.  And this evening proved once again that we are resilient and hearts can expand beyond measure – especially when we connect, come together and help one another.
Your Personal Reflection: What are you grateful for – right here, right now?  How can you be of service to those in need?

Heart Felt Art

Joplin Tornado Project
Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end. -Seneca
I was asked to be part of an amazing art project that I’m so excited to share with you.
On May 22, 2011, a major tornado struck the town of Joplin, Missouri.  160 people died and it now ranks as one of Missouri and America’s deadliest tornadoes.
Kansas City Artist, Matthew Dehaemers dreamt up an idea – to gather a group of artists who could transform debris left from the tornado devastation into works of art, with the intention to give back to the people of Joplin.  So he gathered a crew and they collected tons of materials from the wreckage – wood, metal, windows, doors, toys, bikes, car parts – just to name a few.
Joplin Tornado Project 2
The team joined together with a local gallery, Leedy Voulkos, and created Project Reclamation.  Over 90 artists sifted through the collected debris and have created beautiful works of art.  These finished art pieces will be auctioned off at the Twist & Shout Art Auction, this Saturday, August 27th, from 6-9. (If you live in the Kansas City area, please come out and support this wonderful cause!  Admission is $5 or you can bring a new art supply.)  100% of the proceeds collected from this event will be donated to support artists and arts education programming in Joplin.
Joplin Basket
My husband and I both made an art piece for the auction.  We kept our collections simple – he chose an old wooden door and I stumbled across this sewing basket.  The Precious Moments embroidery patterns, reading glasses, needles and thread were all still intact. As I looked through each item, I felt such compassion and tried to imagine whom this might have belonged to.  Maybe a grandmother who was planning to make gifts for her grandchildren this Christmas?  How sad to think she may have lost everything, maybe someone she loved, or maybe even her own life.  I don’t know who this belongs to, but this basket has a story – one that I tried to respect as I created my piece.
Joplin Project Thread Found
I chose to use the embroidery floss that I found inside the basket and incorporated it into my felting.  I gathered my wool, hot water and soap (while my boys played with the soapy water, too) and felted a landscape of flowers opening up to the big blue sky.  I had never needle felted embroidery floss before, and I really like how it turned out.
Joplin Project Needle Felting
I also used the needle and thread found in the basket for all my stitching and finishing touches.
Joplin Needle and Thread
I loved felting this piece!  I thought a lot about the preciousness of life while creating it – and was again reminded about how everything in this world is temporary – and how wonderfully important it is to awaken to the present moment.
Joplin Final Flowers
There is a lot of devastation in the world, that is for sure.  And there is so much beauty.   When we fall, it is in the rising up where we tend to build the most strength, clarity and wisdom.
Joplin Stems
I feel honored and blessed to be part of such a compassionate project.
I am grateful for this moment.
And I embrace the possibilities that come from new beginnings.
Your Personal Reflection:  How can you rise up from a challenge you may be facing in your own life and start living more for this moment?
Joplin Final Felting
Spring is a time of renewal, with flowers rising up from the ground as a sign of rebirth, bringing color to the landscape and joy to hearts.  “Rising Up” symbolizes the rite of spring when the land comes to life.  In this work, the hand-felted poppies rise up from the ground on stems of yarn and embroidery floss gathered from the sewing basket of a needlesmith strewn in the wind from the Joplin tornado.  Just as spring brings color and joy, “Rising Up” is about new beginnings and the amazing beauty Mother Nature provides.

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.