Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Prelude to Holiday Cheer

Each year I do a fundraiser and then deliver gifts to 25 people (1 each day in December) to people who need a little extra cheer. These people usually have touched, inspired, or changed someone’s life in our community (or far away – we have delivered to Denver, Utah, and well all over actually) and they are nominated to receive one of the gifts.

I recently received an email about one of our recipients from last year. I didn’t write about her last December because tragedy struck her family just after she was nominated. I waited. I wanted her to have some space to heal and even now I am going to call her Kate to protect her identity.

Kate and her husband, like many couples, had to do extra work to become parents. They have miscarried several times and decided to take one final attempt last year. Kate and her husband were thrilled because she was expecting twins. She was put on bed rest in the second trimester. At the beginning of December tragedy struck when she lost her babies; twin girls.

The person that nominated her still wanted to deliver something, but the basket that had been prepared for an expectant mother on bed rest would no longer do at all. So I found a small business on Etsy where the woman creates angel necklaces for women who have miscarried. The name of the shop is Blue Room Gems (you can check it out by clicking here). Creating a necklace for her seemed perfect. So a new basket was crafted with this handmade jewelry and a hand-made throw. My dear friend ensured that this was delivered at just the right time to Kate.

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Necklace from Blue Room Gems.

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Well, Kate was so touched by the basket and the gift that she took our idea and continued it. She began to turn her grief into energy to help others, as grieving mothers tend to do.

She began creating and delivering baskets of her own to women in hospitals who were on journeys similar to her own. She wanted to gift them hope and love; just as she felt she had been gifted.

The blessings continued and Kate’s story evolved and grew and the hope she felt led her to try again for a baby. Kate is expecting and everything is going smoothly as of now. Continue to pray for her and her family and I promise to keep you updated.

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A display at “Kate’s” house with the framed phrase we included with her gift.

Kate inspired me to keep Holiday Cheer going and this year I want to help as many people as we can. I am shooting for 31 nominations so that we can gift a nominee every day in December. I know we can make it a success this year, too. This is such a wonderful way to give back; because like Kate so many of the recipients pay it forward. This sparks so many to keep giving and hope continues to grow. Our world needs hope and so here we go again with our  3rd annual fundraiser – 31 Days of Holiday Cheer!

It is easy – YOU dear readers, nominate a person you think is worthy and YOU my dear readers can donate, make, or just share this with others so that we can make this the most successful Holiday Cheer EVER!

So how does this work:

To nominate someone: It can be anyone, adult or child, male or female. The person nominated just needs to be someone who could use some cheer or just needs some hope breathed into their life. To nominate someone is easy – just email me a short paragraph about the person, with their name and why you think they should be a recipient. Then include something you think they might need this holiday season. Email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com.

To donate: I will have several “parties” that will allow you to purchase gifts for the holidays or just for yourself or you can purchase for one of our nominees. Then I use the proceeds of these parties to purchase gifts for our nominees. There will be an online Stella  and Dot party and a Thirty-one party online. I will host a LulaRoe pop-up for those close by. And last but not least the things that worked best last year anyone can donate gift cards, cash, or even sponsor a recipient by purchasing something directly for them. Again, email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com to arrange for donations to be collected and Like my facebook page for details about the parties.

Get others involved: Share this post with your friends, family, friends of friends, and community. I know if we have enough involvement we can raise more donations and help people even more than we did last year.

What do we need to beat? Last year we collected over $2000 in cash and gift card donations. Last year we purchased nearly $2000 in gifts and other goods. All together with hand made donations and other purchased items we topped over $5000 in gifts for the recipients.

Can we go bigger this year? Can we do 31 days of Holiday Cheer? YES WE CAN! 

I can’t wait to see what happens this year,

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Legit

My heart is heavy tonight as I write my life lessons post for late June/half way through July, but I still felt this need to write so here I am.

I am going to start with the heavy.

We need to pray people…

France, Dallas, Baton Rouge, the whole globe. We need to take a moment and pray.

We ate out tonight and the family at the table next to us bowed their heads and prayed and offered gratitude before their meal. I was struck by how this simple act was so profound and healing.

We need to pray.

We need to lean in together and pray. No color, all religious preferences, all sexual orientations, just gather as humans and pray for one another.

And now on to the lighter side of things just because I feel like if I keep thinking about the heavy and the world my children may inherit if things don’t change I don’t know what…

Where does the title legit come from? Well, I have this awesome friend, Cristal and she is always saying how things are “legit” and well life lessons and life in general are just legit; I mean you can’t get more real than every day life.

We need to laugh people…

Laughter is truly the best medicine for the soul. We need to laugh and play and just enjoy the moments that we do have when we can. (Sometimes you have kids crying and shit is legit and you cannot laugh at that moment, but you will laugh later and that is the thing to remember…laugh when you can laugh). For example, one of the twins locked themselves in the bathroom 4 years ago and then seriously did it again this week. I was quick to laugh because I learned from that first lesson and that nifty little key to unlock the door this time was a life saver.

But a couple of suggestions if I may…

Download Snap Chat and play with it. My son thinks I am whack because I don’t post anything on Snap Chat, I have it just for the filters. And I say so what?! Because seriously I have never laughed so hard. And really do I need another place to post crap?

 

Because that is too legit to quit…am I right?

And play like a kid because sometimes it is just freeing and fun…

Billy Beez, I highly recommend it. It’s legit.

The family that dabs together stays together…

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Enough said, because they did this over and over and over and laughed and laughed.

Even dogs get excited to order Starbucks…

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Seriously, I think that dog ordered a latte and a lemon scone. I hope he paid for the car behind him, because random acts of kindness are legit.

Wear the crazy leggings…

So I know, LuLaRoe is kinda cray, cray the way people hunt and shop and talk about unicorns. You don’t have to get sucked all the way in…but those buttery soft leggings, I mean, I pull those on and I feel 12 all over again. It’s the 90s with Full House and Rave Hairspray. And that is worth $25 and a little embarrassment when you are wearing them at the grocery store right?

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But mostly do what it takes to get through…

Life is not fair. I know I have first world problems, but I empathize and understand that a lot of people do not. I know that things can be so hard. I deal with death on a daily basis and I know first hand what shattered lives look like. I know. I do.

I think we each have to do what we can to get through. To find our way.

For me, it’s knowing that I will teach my children to leave a place better than you found it, use their manners, do their best, chase their dreams and always help the person up behind them. To listen to other people’s stories.

I will work to make sure they take responsibility for their actions and pitch in and help out wherever they can. To teach them understanding and compassion in a world that so desperately needs it. And mostly to love them. But also to love my life and set the example. To be a person who shows not tells. To be a person that is afraid, but lives life any way.

And these sweet faces help keep me legit. Two of these faces turn 6 tomorrow. Two of these faces are closer to being a teen than a kid. All five of these faces are the best parts of my life. All five of these faces can drive me absolutely bat shit crazy and at the same time make my heart explode with adoration and unconditional love. These five faces get me through each day…

IMG_4893Legit.

Until next time,

Michelle

Let’s get this party started – Holiday Cheer 2015 Y’all!

Let’s get this party started – Holiday Cheer 2015 Y’all!

So, I was starting to think I wasn’t going to be able to pull off Holiday Cheer this year and I was worried because I kept getting so many messages and little reminders from people who let me know we needed to do.

For one I got this text message I shared on FB a while back.

we make a difference

This was also shared on my wall not that long ago and this is from our Holiday Cheer 2 years ago.

We can do Hard Things

I have also become friends with a nominee from 2 years ago and our We Can Do Hard Things sign hangs on her playroom wall.

So I knew that somehow I had to keep this going but how and what would our theme be that could apply to anyone?

Thank goodness for amazing and brilliant friends. Alyssa Wagner, whom many of you readers know, is the best ever and she sent me the brilliant idea of collecting donations and gift baskets from small business owners and then conducting a silent auction and using the $$$$ to buy the holiday cheer gifts! Alyssa, I adore you – this is exactly how we will fund Holiday Cheer this year!

Thank you!

So if you are a small business owner, or you have something that you make or sell and you would be willing to donate let me know. You can email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com and let me know what you would like to give. I will donate an individual reading and a group reading package! We can do this – together we can do this and pull this off.

Now remember Holiday Cheer is about letting those people in our lives know we think they are amazing. In the past we have sent gifts to single moms, young kids fighting huge challenges, special education teachers, and those that were struggling with life circumstances and doing it with a positive attitude just to name a few examples. It can really be anyone as long as you have a compelling case to share about their extreme AWESOMENESS!

I have always thought it was important to let others know that they are AWESOME just by being who they are. To take a moment and make sure that ordinary, every day people who do extraordinary things day in and day out know that they are appreciated and recognized.

So this year our theme comes from a quote from my favorite book:

“Real courage is when you know you are licked before you begin, but you begin any way and see it through no matter what.” – To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

From the Start Where You Are Journal by Meera Lee Palel
From the Start Where You Are Journal by Meera Lee Palel

So many people I have met this past year are facing each day with challenges that would knock the best of us to our knees and yet they not only stand, but continue to put one foot in front of the other and execute each day with the best and most positive attitude they can muster. They live any way, love any way, give any way. So real courage is seeing something through no matter what – like a boss!

I know you know people like this too. I can’t wait to hear about your nominees and I know everyone else that is going to take part in Holiday Cheer this year – those that are willing to donate – they can’t wait to hear about them either. So if you have a nominee; man, woman or child let me know. You can email me the nominee and why you think they should be nominated and what some of their interests are or some type of gift you think they might like.

Once I receive the nominees, I will let you know if they will be chosen for this year (we haven’t turned anyone down yet). Then I will get the gifts together. Usually something nice and I will make sure we include a framed print with the quote. Then on December 1st all the way through the 25th of December a gift is delivered each day to a nominee. If you are not local – no problem we have shipped gifts to Colorado, Southern California, and Utah. I can ship the gift anywhere.

I then share the nominee’s story and reason for being nominated on my blog so that we can all follow along with sending them cheer.

That is it; it is that simple.

I am looking forward to those that can donate and learning more about the nominees that you have in mind. Email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com and let’s get this Holiday Cheer started for 2015!

Sincerely,

Me

August and Half of September Lessons 2015 style…

August and Half of September Lessons 2015 style…

*etsy print – click image to visit the original source
1. Do not write about how depression feels, but if you forget to take that advice and do it anyway…

Be ready that it could have the opposite effect of what you intended. If you write about how depression feels in an effort to let people see inside of you be ready for some people to talk to you as if you might break and be ready to hear a thousand ways that you can get help. (If you have read the blog you know I see a therapist and have seen my medical doctor about depression. My family and friends are aware and I really am fine. I was just writing about it with the intent to inform).

2. This too shall pass

Bliss

For the last couple weeks, my kids have fought like CRAZY – and I know they will survive, but I MAY NOT survive. It is looney toons up in this hizhouse. One minute they are all working together to earn thousands of tickets at Chuck E. Cheese and sharing and the next minute they are teasing each other, tattling, fit throwing.

OMG - Fit throwingIt is a roller coaster ride I would gladly pass up. But, I know that mixed in with these moments of fighting that all the good stuff happens. I am just so done with attitudes and bickering at the moment that it takes me about 20 minutes to realize that this too shall pass.

3. It is okay to be an introvert

http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/21-things-introverts-love?sub=2809321_2105375#.bwmrnedvEQ
http://www.buzzfeed.com/jessicamisener/21-things-introverts-love?sub=2809321_2105375#.bwmrnedvEQ
I can not tell you how many parties I have not attended because I needed down time or how many parties I attended where I socialized a total of 10 minutes out of the 3 hours spent at the party. People also think this is odd and that something is wrong with you. Nothing is wrong with you. You just might be an introvert and that is a normal healthy thing to be. It is okay if you need time to recharge. You will refuel and be able to connect again. Shake off what people think, take your time to recharge and move on.

4. Some dogs chew everything

Roxie Baby

If you happen to ever want to get a Collie – they chew every single ever-loving thing. They are super smart, too. They absolutely find the thing that will cost the most money or be the most missed and they chew that. Tonight it was the new license plates and registration for the new car. She literally pulled it from out of all the other mail on the counter and chewed that. Still wondering if she actually likes us.

5. You will survive your own child entering middle school

You will survive

My oldest started middle school this year. It is an awkward feeling dropping your child off into a world that you only know about through memory or hearsay. The good news is that the awkward feeling passes and they find their way just as you find yours.

6. Do not look up school lunch ideas on Pinterest

Holy lunch making mamas! There are some crafty and talented lunch making moms and when you see what they make for lunch and how they make it you will quickly feel inadequate unless you yourself are one of these Pinteresting mamas. This is where I need to channel Amy Poehler, “Good for you, not for me!” So glad there are moms our there that can express their creativity this way – I may put together some new ideas for what is in my child’s lunches from these beautiful creations, but there will be no dolphins or cute little faces inside my kiddos lunch boxes. Nope, not happening.

School Lunch Pin 1

school lunch pin

Well that is it for now, until next time,

Me

Cheer Day 1 2014

So it begins Holiday Cheer Year 2

Yesterday was the very first day of holiday cheer. This is the second annual 25 Days of Holiday Cheer and I am just as excited as the first. The theme for this year is:

All the Best Heroes are Ordinary People who make themselves Extraordinary.

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This we have 30 nominees so it will be extended by 5 extra days because I wanted to recognize everyone! The more we can do the better and it all came together this year because of all the fabulous people who supported my crazy Holiday Cheer idea.

Alyssa Wagner, our Stella & Dot consultant and my dear friend made sure that she donated enough commissions to pay for the sales tax on all of our gift orders.

Tina Ramirez from thirty-one and Mama Luvs donated several of her Mama Luvs products to all the people who purchased thirty-one bags this year.

The Krafty B, otherwise known as Bettina Kraft, donated one of her beautiful scarves as one of our gifts this year.

Finally, I cannot begin to thank all those who donated money, frames, time, and support to help make this all a reality this year. Thank you all so much for helping to spread a little extra cheer this holiday season. Each of our recipients will be so grateful.

wrapping

Our first nominee was nominated by Kathleen from Utah. She wanted to nominate her cousin Mary Ellen because, “she is so dedicated, has so much love and patience while giving her mom the best of care. She is one of my heroes and I admire her for being such a wonderful caregiver.”

Mary Ellen cares for her mom and is a resident of Las Vegas, Nevada. She also spends time helping in the community. Recently she helped two council members run food drives for local food cupboards. This is a cause near and dear to her heart.

Mary Ellen is a life long Girl Scout and worked with youth leadership in the Las Vegas Community for several years.

This gift came at a great time as the last couple of weeks have been especially trying with her mom as she has had many sleepless nights.

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Glad we could help deliver some extra holiday cheer.

Happy December and Happy 25 (30) Days of Holiday Cheer –

Michelle and a circle of women who care

 

Holiday Cheer Wrap up

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I wanted to just say thank you – thank you for your nominations, thank you for your help delivering gifts, thank you for reading our stories, thank you from the very bottom of my heart for making this all possible.

A special thanks to Alyssa Wagner (check out her Facebook site here). She was an amazing help. Alyssa left our online show open for extra days, she promoted it to her networks, she held a live show last-minute and then donated a good part of her commission to help with sign supplies and shipping, and tax on the purchased items. If you need anything Stella & Dot please consider Alyssa as your stylist – she is amazing, generous, and wonderfully kind.

Thank you to Kris Friebel. She was fantastic as our Pampered Chef consultant. (Check out her Facebook page here). She helped boost our shows sales by adding an order to it from one of her friends. She helped us reach our 25 gifts with this addition. Please think of Kris if you need anything Pampered Chef.

Thank you Rebecca for surprising me with a Holiday Cheer gift of my very own. I love my handmade scarf and homemade relish and I love you so dearly. You are a great friend.

Thank you, Janet for helping me get started on our signs. Your craft savvy and helping hands made our signs possible. I adore you and am so grateful for your friendship. You are a wonderful friend.

Thank you all! I so appreciate all you did to make this happen.

Hugs –

M

Cheer Day 24

“What’s meant to be will always find a way.” – Trisha Yearwood

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Yesterday was truly magical for me and I am so excited to share it with you. We had one gift that was left as there wasn’t a 25th nominee. I knew this was going to happen right when we started; I knew there was going to be one gift to which I would be led to the recipient. I happened to be right.

On the night of December 23rd I dreamt of a woman who worked as a checker, had long black hair and was sad because she was working when she wanted desperately to be home with her family.

When I woke up Christmas Eve I knew I had some last-minute shopping to do, so I got our gift all ready and with butterflies in my stomach I took it with me. I was so nervous to randomly surprise someone I never met and try to explain why I had brought them a little Christmas Cheer. As I entered Safeway, I received several strange looks because I was carrying a large bag and a funny little sign.

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I proceeded to grab the few items I needed and while I shopped I prayed that I would be led to the right person.

I am going to digress here for a minute – my grandfather who passed awhile ago wore Old Spice and often had the deep heat type sports cream on as well because of back injuries and the two together combined for a distinctive smell (not unpleasant, but distinctive). I often smell this smell at my mother’s house and during large family get togethers. I always know that is the way my grandfather makes himself present to me.

As I was shopping yesterday the smell appeared the minute I walked into the store and grew stronger and stronger as I approached the check out line of a very specific checker with long black hair. I knew that I had been led to the person who needed our Christmas Cheer gift.

As I waited in line, holding our gift and my groceries, I worried about how I was going to pull this off and not cause a stir that might embarrass the checker. What was I going to say? How was I going to explain our gift to her?

And as things do, it worked out that the man in front of me forgot something and had to run to get it. No one was in line behind me; no one else was around. So I decided while we were waiting to give her our gift and explained that it was meant for her. I told her about my blog, our gifts and how I knew that this gift had been intended for her and that I followed my heart and intuition and it led me to her. Hopefully that didn’t sound too creepy – hopefully I had made it seem like a nice gesture instead of some crazy lady move. I hope I did you all proud.

She got so teary eyed and came around the counter and hugged me! She proceeded to tell me that her youngest child was sick and she wished she could be home with her and care for her. She relayed that she had so many more gifts to wrap and was thankful for work, but so wished she could just be a mom home with her kids on Christmas Eve.

I knew that our gift had found its intended recipient. It had been meant for her all along. I know I should have more eloquent words to describe what happened, but magical is all I can think of. Kismet; fate.

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Guess what is even more kismet?  I was wearing my HUMBUG – Oscar the Grouch shirt when I delivered the gift. Gotta love being an oxymoron.

Thank you for helping magic come alive on Christmas.

Hugs and love,

M

25 Days of Holiday Cheer

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I know, you read the title right – it did say HOLIDAY CHEER…

Yes, I am as bad as Hobby Lobby and Walmart and am starting on the holidays in September. But, and this is a BIG BUT there is a fantastical reason.

Here is my diabolical plot:

I want to spread some good and do 25 days of Holiday Cheer. Yes, 25 full days of spreading goodness. Here is how:

My intent is to identify 25 deserving women that need a little extra pick me up in their lives and then each day from Dec. 1st to the 25th send them a little something to lift their spirits. Many other organizations help with the things that they need, but there aren’t a lot out there that just drop off a little something special for the mom, wife, sister, cousin that needs their spirits lifted. I want them to know they are beautiful and loved and I am hoping a little token will do just that.

Here’s how we are going to do this mad, crazy, holiday spreading of cheer:

1. I need you to send me nominations (use the form below) identifying a woman who you think has been down and out – just a run of bad luck, car broke down, divorce, lost someone she loved, chronic pain, depression, or she is just the type of person that does for everyone else first and you want her to know that she comes first on someone’s list, too. You send me the information using the contact form below and I will let you know if your person is chosen. I know readership of this extends to various parts of the US – that doesn’t matter if you know a friend who could use cheer nominate away and I will make sure we get the cheer to them.

2. I will highlight the stories of the chosen women as we deliver the gifts, so that we can surprise them just in case they happen to read this bloggity, blog we don’t want them to know that they were chosen. However, I will let you know how many have been chosen until we reach our goal of 25.

3. I will host an online Stella & Dot party (the hostess is a local mom who sells Stella & Dot because she wants to help other women feel beautiful and this helps her to be able to stay at home with her two, very young sons – a cause worth supporting in my eyes). You can purchase things for yourself during this party or let us know that you want to purchase something that will be used as part of our Holiday Cheer gifts. It will be a week-long show that will start in just a couple of weeks. Once the show ends I will let you know the money amount that we raised and then I along with the Stella & Dot Stylist will choose gifts for our Holiday Cheer. I will post pictures of what we purchased so you can all see your $ and good deeds up close and personal. The information will be posted on an upcoming blog so that you can take part in this online event.

4. Then on October 3rd and several days after I will also host an online Pampered Chef party same exact idea as above and we will use the rewards towards holiday cheer gifts. Again details will be posted.

5. If you want to just donate let me know, too and we can also arrange a way for you to donate to the holiday cheer and we can add those contributions in as well.

6. That is it, once we have reached our gift total and recipient total I will be doing a post a day in December that will showcase the recipient and also what their gift was, etc. I want you to be as much a part of this as possible! We are all in this together and the more we support each other and let each other know that the better right?!

I also want to add that I will design a card soon that I will share and each gift will come with our card design and the card will let the recipient know who nominated them and why the gift was sent. If you are an out-of-state person – I will mail gifts. If you are a reader close to home – I will hand deliver gifts. You just get the nominee to me and I will figure out the rest.

Questions let me know. All right let’s let the Holiday Cheer begin!

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Picture Credit:

http://blog.mensliberty.com/blog/bid/247220/Wee-Answer-Wednesday-Holidays-with-Men-s-Liberty

http://www.mommysfreetime.com/2011_11_13_archive.html