What the what?! Lessons from afourytale

What the what?! Lessons from afourytale

What, the what? That’s right it’s time I revisit and review what I have learned, unlearned, or re-learned this past month or so. I am sure that is happening in your neck of the woods, too as our social climate in the US is an interesting one right now to say the least.

And with that said I start with this lesson…

there-is-only-love

That is right. Evil is man-made. We humans create evil through separation and fear. I truly believe our soul is divine love. Our humanness may try to hide or run from that and live a life guided by fear and fear leads to evil, but our core is love.

When we treat each person with compassion and stop and listen to one another and share our stories that is when we find a way to connect to one another. When we do that then we start to move the world in the direction of good. We need to do that with a level head and compassion. Not raised voices and pointed fingers.

Good starts with us. Not our President, not our neighbor, not the news, not the teachers, not our boss…its starts with us. The only one we should be looking at to start a revolution of kindness is ourselves.

When we choose to learn through love then we choose to act with love. Not everyone is going to react in kind, but most will. I see it every single day. You hold the door open for someone or compliment someone and their whole face lights up.

So as much as we can get caught up in the world and be angry, we need to center ourselves and choose love. If we all did this the world would be an amazing place. But it starts with us.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have had a car cut me off and my first reaction is chicken biscuits what the heck is wrong with that person. But three deep breaths later and I am wondering maybe they were lost, maybe they had a bad day, maybe they didn’t see me. If we choose to see through a lense of compassion and love it makes a big difference. Just like Hannah Montana says…

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Come on…some of you must have daughter’s watching the Disney Channel right now… Hannah Montana is back.

And may I digress here just for a second because all the “this is us” talk and TV it has me thinking I am totally enthralled in This is Us on NBC. But what the heck?! They cannot have Jack die in a DUI accident. Really?! Our hero has to go down like that? Please say it ain’t so NBC, please say it ain’t so! I could be wrong and the writers could just have us thinking that, but it would break my heart into itty bitty bits because Jack is my favorite character in a long, long time. He reminds me of Atticus Finch a bit.

Which leads me into the next lesson so I can keep it light and not think about Jack’s fate.

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I relearn this one probably every single week. Maybe even day by day, but my grandfather who passed away 9 years ago used to say, “A good day is not complete without laughter!”

My goals for 2017 even have learn a joke a day on them. It doesn’t happen every day, but I try. Also, did you know you can ask Alexa to tell you joke? She is pretty darn funny. For example, what do call a pig that does karate?

Wait for it…

Wait for it..

A pork chop.

Okay, so I may be the only one that likes corny humor. My all time favorite joke is…

How do you make a tissue dance?

Wait of it…

Wait for it…

You put a little boogie in it.

Hey I am a mom of four under 12 cut me some slack.

For those of you a bit older I found this on the Internet the other day…

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Don’t ask me, I am not a dipshit cross my heart and pinkie swear. But when I did send this to a friend to make him laugh he asked a guy he works with who chews tobacco and the answer was two. Yep, that is right there is answer to every question people. But it’s funny stuff and so is life. So, hold on to your humor and don’t let go, it can get you through a lot of tight jams.

I am going to bring it down to a serious note for a second. My next lesson relates to one of my favorite Amy Poehler quotes, “Great people do things before they are ready.”

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And no this doesn’t have to do with learning how to navigate the myriads of roundabouts our town just installed. Seriously if I wanted to live and drive through windy roundabouts I would have moved to England, but I digress again.

Recently I went to see psychic medium James Van Praagh. He is a medium I have watched and read about since I was in my early teens. When I went to see him he mentioned a workshop coming up nearby and I looked into it. It wasn’t too pricey so I decided to go.

I was nervous out of my mind and scared to walk into a room full of people I didn’t know. But I showed up any way.

It was mind-blowing.

He asked me to come up on stage in a room full of people to give my very first live reading!  On a stage. With an audience, full of people.

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Yep,  he called me up on stage just like I dreamed he would and then I gave a reading. It wasn’t my best because I was nervous out of my mind, but it was life changing. And fun! I used my humor and my bravery together.

So, my advice to you is show up and do the things because your dreams can literally come true. For realsies; I am living proof.

Of course, the girl who got up after me was all of like 25, thin and super-hot so there might always be someone younger and cuter than you right around the corner, but that is why we need humor and love to keep going no matter what.

So keep choosing to learn through love, have fun and laugh along the way and be ready to show up before you are ready because bravery yields results.

Until next time,

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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

Innocence on the field

Innocence on the field

There are eight little four and five year olds running around the field. The coach has instructed them to pass the ball back and forth to each other as they make their way from one end of the field to the other. Each group is trying to figure out exactly how to accomplish that task.

One child who has played before, shows his partner and they quickly speed through the drill. They are done and waiting before the other three groups start. One child tries to take the ball all by himself, one child has moved to camp out in the goal and another is starting to wander off by the sidelines to get water. A couple of the players are waiting for their partners because they understood what to do, but their partner have checked out (remember there is one in the goal and one on the sidelines).

Whether it is their age, inexperience or the wind just entered through their ears and stirred up their brains to wonder about different things instead of completing the task at hand; they were all doing things differently. In the end all four groups ended up finishing the drill and standing on the opposite side of the field.

This got me to thinking about life, and how we are all doing the best we can. Most of us finding our way. Maybe we are apprehensive, curious, have our own agenda to complete before we get started on what is at hand, or are natural leaders and forge ahead – we are all just moving forward (or in loop de loops then forward or stopping and then starting again) in our own ways.

With everything going on in the world, wether it is the political election and its teeming climate of hatred or terrorist attacks on innocent civilians or genocide or drug and sex trafficking or just plain seething frustration that seeps out discontent on Social Media or even face to face, it struck me that while these children completed the drill not one of them was angry or seething with frustration. No one was upset that all the others had a different or wandering way of completing the task. There was definitely some guidance from parents and coaches, but it was loving guidance because of the innocence that was on the field.

Of course witnessing this event had a precursor so my observation was definitely tainted with the discussion from earlier that day.

My children and I had quite a talk about respect, kindness and acceptance after the attacks in Belgium. We started to talk about how terrorists come to be and how we can not succumb to a fearful way of thinking. We talked about how we CAN dislike someone, but that doesn’t mean we should ever be disrespectful.

The events that are transpiring in the world that I mentioned earlier are all disrespectful, selfish acts when you strip them down. All are fueled by hate and fear.

My whole life has been guided by fear. I stayed in a relationship because I was afraid to be alone. I didn’t go away to college because I was afraid. I didn’t go to a party in high school because I was afraid; instead I watched the girls through a window from my parked car, let my fear overcome me and drove home. I didn’t tell people I was a medium because I was afraid. And even at soccer practice last night I didn’t go sit by this really awesome mom I met because I was afraid. Afraid that she may not like me, afraid that I might be a bother, just plain afraid to say the wrong thing.

We cannot be led by fear.

How do we fight what is happening around us?

We cannot be led by fear. We have to be kind, open, respectful and selfless.

I know there is discontent. It is rampant.

There is a tense, heaviness to the air. I know you can feel it, too.

There a lot of you, that like me are good and kind and want to make this world the best it can be. We are working toward that. The media and the spotlight are shining on the negative.

HATRED makes a lot of noise. It is messy and loud and dark. Shadows can cover up the light from time to time.

But we have to remember that even though we may be led to the see more of the fear and more of the turmoil; the light is still shining bright and we can focus on being kind and respectful and keep it at bay. It doesn’t mean it won’t touch us or hurt us, but it does mean that it can’t own us. It can’t suck us into its gnarly, twisted grasp.

We are the innocents on the field of life. We need to be able to find our own loop de loop, start stop, or forge ahead way. We need to offer each other space or loving guidance. Not criticism for being different, lost, afraid, weak, lonely, or afraid. I think we need to remember we are all just making our way at our own pace with our own baggage and make way for each other. Move over and offer a seat, a shoulder to lean on, rebuild our community of humans as ONE of many different kinds.

It is a nice thought and I am still an idealist; I think it can be done. I have a friend that always says don’t just be sorry, be active. We need to be active in order to heal this world of ours. We need to teach our children compassion, grace, kindness, respect, and open-mindedness. Anything is possible, if all those little munchkins at soccer can make it to the other side of the field; so can we.

Zach soccerColby Soccer

Yours kindly,

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Day 21: Livy

I want you to meet someone remarkable today. Her name is Livy. At 22 months Livy was diagnosed with Gorlin Syndrome; this is a genetic syndrome that causes the body to create cancerous and noncancerous tumors to grow.

Livy

In August of 2015, Livy was diagnosed with brain tumors or medulloblastomas. She can not tolerate radiation treatments, so the only avenue that her family has to help her is with chemotherapy treatments. Livy’s syndrome and cancer make her treatment a very rare case.

Two members of the Gilroy, Morgan Hill Community nominated Livy. Her father attended Live Oak High School with one and the other was a family friend. They wanted to do something to reach out, to let this family know that many people were praying for them as they travelled this unthinkable journey.

The Go Fund Me Page sums up their journey best,

“There is no real ‘cure’ for many pediatric brain tumors, many of the choices facing the parents of children inflicted with the form of pediatric brain cancer Livy is facing are ‘the devils choices’ as one of her doctors put it. A few of the largest hurdles you must overcome when you are put face to face with this disease are the lack of awareness, lack of funding for research and cures, and the general support needed to make the decisions that will impact a young life forever.”

If you want to donate this is the link for her Go Fund Me page: https://www.gofundme.com/livysjourney

Our elves were able to make sure that Livy had a handmade scarf and hat to keep her warm on her trips and stay in UCSF. They also helped get her a frozen dress, shoes and a Frozen Castle. We were told she liked that Disney movie.

We are praying for Livy and her family every day.

Until there is a cure…

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 18: Raya Sunshine

home sweet home

Roughly 7 years ago I met Raya. We met through work; I was training her on a new software. She was bubbly, friendly and it didn’t matter when I saw her she was always fashionable, always with great shoes.

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Raya isn’t afraid to speak her mind or express her feelings. We quickly became friends and I learned of all her family’s struggles. Both she and her husband had lost their jobs due to the down turn in the economy. As they struggled to find their new way; they lost the family home that they had raised their three girls in. But always the optimist, Raya forged ahead knowing as long as they had each other they had everything they possibly needed. They moved a few times from rental to rental and finally at the end of last year decided to go on a grand adventure and head to Oregon to start over.

She knew that she and her husband would both be able to find jobs where they could actually live comfortably. Rent in California just continued to climb higher and higher, so they knew they needed to find a place where after earning their paychecks they could actually have some breathing room.

They have only been in Portland a short time, but already they are finding and creating a home there.

Bella, Raya’s youngest daughter, heard about holiday cheer and wanted to nominate her mom. She knew that even though the world couldn’t see the toll that the past few years had taken on Raya, she knew that it had. She wanted her mom to know how loved she was and how much people were rooting for their success.

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This is a sample mug. Visit https://www.etsy.com/transaction/1081209668 to go to the Etsy shop.

 

Raya, was the recipient of Day 18 of Holiday Cheer. I found mugs on Etsy that showed a connection between CA and OR (Bella is still here in CA) and we made ornaments with pictures of the whole family in them to hang on their tree every year to remind Raya that even though family might be miles away they are always with her. We also got her a welcome mat for her new home and a Home Depot gift card.

Thank you Elves and Bella for helping bring some sunshine and cheer to Raya!

Peace & Love,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

Holiday Cheer Day 3:Best Friends to Infinity and Beyond

Holiday Cheer Day 3:Best Friends to Infinity and Beyond

IMG_3250Do you remember the day you met your best friend? Which friend of yours has been through your life the whole way through? Now could you imagine that after only knowing them for a few short years you would have to go through losing them. Now take even another moment to think about what it would be like to bear that loss at 6 years old.

Our recipient for day 3 doesn’t have to think about that she lives it. Jaeda lost her BFF when she was 6 years old. For the last two years she has had to learn what life is like here while her BFF is in heaven.

Her mom. Amy, has shared her thoughts via FB and I thought I would share them here as well:

Jaeda“We love and miss her so much. Lately Jaeda has been noticing that the songs they used to dance to are now old songs. She wonders if they’d still be having dance parties to the new songs. Jaeda will forever miss this friendship, a young friendship that taught them how to be a friend.”

 

jlk & Jaeda“One of my favorite pictures of these sweet girls! …These girls had so many first things together. First sleep over, first concerts (gilroy gardens concerts were so fun with these dancers), first time riding in cars together, sharing clothes, sharing exciting news (Jaeda told Jennifer on the phone when she found out about Ava ), swimming together, learning how to bribe moms for dinner dates and the talent of a princess show! This year without her friendship, her spunk and sparkle has been so very hard. I’m thankful for all the time we shared with this amazing princess…but so very angry that she is forever 6.”

jaeda unravelJaeda is one of the most mature and well mannered young ladies I have ever met. Whether she is Fluttering or manning a bake sale, she is incredibly involved with raising awareness and funds for Unravel, an organization that raising money for pediatric cancer research and treatment. She is committed to putting an end to the disease that robbed her of her best friend. Beyond her passion to put an end to pediatric cancer, Jaeda has been recognized both at church and school for her character.

IMG_3252Delivering Jaeda’s gift was such a wonderful experience. She was so excited. The homemade pillowcases she loved because she loves pillowcases and has one from a recent sleepover where all her friends signed it, which she excitedly showed me.

She was excited about the Descendants DVD, but flipped out when she saw the Justice and Claire’s gift cards. She couldn’t believe we guessed her favorite stores.

jlk & jaeda 2At 8, Jaeda is poised, polite, and carries a compassion that is greater than people four times her age. Thank you all for making this sweet girl’s day a little brighter and helping to let her know we are all supporting her.

Peace and love,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

An artistic start to Holiday Cheer 2015

Noelle is anything but ordinary. At just 13 years old, Noelle is an accomplished singer and a budding artist. But that is not all, she is wise and humble for her age as well as exceptionally bright and well rounded. Her gracious heart and shy smile make her an easy person to get to know. You immediately feel at ease around her. She is involved in the community and participates in several charitable causes. Her father is a fire fighter and their family is deeply involved in the community and giving back is just a way of life for her.

But what strikes me the most about Noelle is the tenacity with which she chases her dreams. It is palpable. Her drive and success gives hope to others who are pursuing their dreams as well.

Unfortunately, tragedy is no stranger to Noelle and her family. Her sister was in a fatal car accident earlier this year. But, Noelle’s maturity guides her through her darkest days and somehow she continues to spread light and hope to others through her music and art.

On November 1st, her mother shared a Día de los Muertos free hand drawing that Noelle drew in honor of her sister.

Noelle's freehand

It touched me so deeply that it was in that moment I knew that our Holiday Cheer needed to reach her in the same way that she was reaching out to others through her art.

Noelle’s artistic ability is also demonstrated through her vocals in the local band, Head Strong, which has performances throughout the community. (Click here to read more about her band). Noelle is even performing at the Tree Lighting Ceremony in downtown Gilroy this Saturday, December 5th. She will be on the main stage at 6:30.

santa gilroyIf you can’t make it to see her live she does have a You Tube Channel that you can subscribe to. This is a recent video she recorded:

It was such an honor and treat to get to meet with her and her parents earlier this evening to deliver the very first gift of 2015’s Holiday Cheer. Noelle was humble and poised as I gushed about her amazing attributes and ability to spread hope despite what she is going through at her young age.

Our group put together a basket of art supplies, a gift card to purchase more art supplies, the letter N in lights because her name should always be in lights, and a few little beauty items.

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It was a small token to just let her know she is making her mark in the world and her imprint is vast. She is touching so many lives with her beautiful soul.

Thank you Holiday Cheer Elves for your donations and your contribution to making a little something special for sweet, Noelle.

Sincerely,

Michelle & A Circle of People Who Care (otherwise known as the Holiday Cheer Elves)

 

 

Cheer Day 14

Cheer Day 14

Cheer Day 14

One of the first nominees I received was Trista. Trista is a mom of four. She also has a set of twins and just speaking from experience twin mamas are pretty tough.

Trista was nominated by Laura. Laura told me how Trista’s first grader underwent massive surgery last spring and recently one of her twins was diagnosed with autism. Trista is actively involved in Unravel (the organization dedicated to finding a cure for pediatric cancer and also to help get adequate funding for pediatric cancer research) the community and her church.

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Click here to visit unravel and find out more about how you can help find a cure.

 

It was an honor to be present when Trista received her gift. Trista sent a thank you to Laura and I that let us know the gift came at the perfect time.

I started Holiday Cheer so that we could have the opportunity to take a moment and let someone know how much of a difference they make just by being themselves and showing up every day doing the best they can. Trista is such a wonderful person who is handling everything life throws at her with grace, humor, and strength. It was such an honor to be able to give Trista a little something to let her know how much she means to those around her and remind her what a great job she is doing. Trista you are an inspiration to all those around you.

Thank you, Laura for nominating Trista. Thank you, Trista for sharing who you are and your goodness with so many. The world is lucky to have you, I am honored to know you, and I wish you so much joy.

Love,

The Cheer Squad

Cheer Day 5 2014

 

A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.
― Steve Maraboli

Cheer Day 5

Holiday Cheer Day 5 brought some much-needed cheer to Michelle. Michelle was nominated by Bettina. Bettina took a moment to put into her own words why she felt Michelle should be a recipient:

“Michelle is a single mom who loves her kids so much. Being separated recently, she took all the ups and downs in life with grace and I am so proud of her for holding her head high and sticking to her gut when it came to life decisions. Going through a separation is hard, but she also lost her father and brother to cancer in less than a year. She has been through so much pain in the past year and I wish her lots of happiness for the future.”

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There was a good luck penny inside this cute little Stella & Dot tech wallet.

 

Wrap Bracelet Cheer Day 5
Wrap Bracelet – my photo doesn’t do it justice

 

 

Click to see it on the Stella & Dot website
Click to see it on the Stella & Dot website

Today I am so grateful that these two friends had a moment to share how they inspire one another. I know that they spent Thanksgiving together and really are family to one another.

Letting those that nominated this year deliver the gifts has been so rewarding. Bettina wrote me last night and I just have to share:

cheer squad

And now my friends, I will call all of you who have helped put this together the “Cheer Squad”. I can not tell you how grateful I am to all of you.

But, I think Michelle described it best in her Facebook post last night:

FB Post Cheer Day 5

Wishing you a year full of happiness to keep your cup running over, Michelle!

Sincerely,

Michelle and the “Cheer Squad”

 

Kindness changes the world one kid at a time…

Kindness changes the world one kid at a time…

Mr. Rogers

 

I love this Mr. Rogers quote. I live by this Mr. Rogers quote.

This week I was awe-struck when I witnessed first hand how if we teach our children kindness we can change the world.

My daughter, who is seven and in the second grade, recently started a new school (that is a story for a future blog post) but after the second day at this school she came home to tell me how there was one little girl who was being mean to the others. We talked about how things might be tough and scary for that little girl and brainstormed what might make her feel like she had to act that way. A whole week went by and my daughter didn’t discuss this girl any further.

Then on this past Monday my daughter gets into the car after school and she proceeds to tell me that she went and talked to the girl at recess that day. I asked her what she said and she retold the events.

“Mom, I was shaking I was so nervous, but I just wanted her to stop being mean to my friends. I walked up to her and asked her, ‘Are you just doing the things you are doing to do them or are you just having a hard time making friends?'” she softly spoke each word.

“I didn’t use the word mean mom because I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.” She explained.

“Wow, I would have been shaking, too. What happened next?” I prompted her to continue.

“Well, she said she just really wanted friends mom. She said she just wanted us to like her. So I asked her if she would like to be our friend and she said yes and so we played together the rest of the recess and the next one.”

I can’t tell you how proud I was of my daughter in that moment because there really are no words. She was brave, she was kind and she made a difference in that little girl’s life that might be immeasurable.

Kindness matters every tiny bit. Compassion for others is necessary. Teaching that is priceless.

Here’s to changing the world with kindness, one kid at a time,

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Would you be beautiful?

A friend posted this on FB today and definitely got me thinking:

If the words YOU spoke were written on your body….would you be beautiful??

Yikes…as much as I try to always treat others as I would like to be treated I am sure there would be some pretty ugly words; especially from my youth. But maybe even a couple interesting words from days like today.

There is too much whining in my house and too much on my plate to always respond appropriately. I am way over the whining and definitely way past my patience point. But we all slip up sometimes so I am sure we would all be pretty colorful. And maybe just maybe the good and the bad all swirled together would be a beautiful way to show how human and alike we all are.

So what would your answer be; if the words YOU spoke were written on your body….would you be beautiful??

Photo below is from: http://www.psst-bc.ca/student-works/whats-wrong-us

2014-03-19_2140

I think you would all still be beautiful,

M

All of these things make my skin crawl…

Keeping up with the Joneses.

Status Quo.

Perfection.

All of these things make my skin crawl. Absolutely without a doubt make me want to puke.

Beauty my friends is in the quirks, the differences, in the chinks in the armor, but if you are a regular here you already know that.

What brings about all this keeping up with the Joneses talk you ask?

Well two things actually – the first was a conversation I had with my sweet friend, Janet today about how parents she ran into are forcing their sons to play baseball whether they like it or not. And the other is how people react to one of my sons and his love for dolls and all things pink.

It all started when 6 months ago one of my sons asked for a Princess Sofia Castle for his birthday. We bought it for him. It was the one and only thing he asked for.

At Christmas he received some money from his great-grandmother and he chose to buy a Frozen toy.

During the day he puts on fashion shows and sings Let it Go like he is on Broadway.

Recently we went through Old Navy and what did he pick out:

sophia

That shirt was all he wanted. Sofia, Anna and Elsa are his favorite cartoon characters of all time. Which I think is pretty awesome because they are kind, strong, funny, independent individuals. They put family and friends first.

But to be completely honest, I am worried about him wearing this shirt and don’t really encourage it if I can help it. In fact, I am so awful that last week when he was wearing it around town I tried to explain it away to a couple that was giving him strange looks.

“Oh wouldn’t it be nice if Disney made a more gender neutral version of each of their character shirts. I just couldn’t talk him out of getting this Sofia shirt.” I say with a wave of my hand.

To which the gentleman replied, “Well when he starts school you won’t have to worry about that anymore. That will put an end to THAT really quick.” His eyeballs giving a piercing stare to the pink Sofia shirt with puffy sleeves.

His words made my stomach turn. I think I even threw up a little bit in my mouth. I don’t want anyone to put an end to it. My sweet son, who puts others first and shares everything, who doesn’t hit or argue should have every right to continue to like pink and love princesses.

Why is it that boys like my son and like Grayson (check out his story here) have to conform to typical gender stereotypes? Ones I don’t really agree with in the first place.

For example, I can’t double-check if my son is okay when he trips and falls without someone telling me, “He’s fine – he has to be tough. He’ll dust it off.”

Puh-leeze; my children were born with inherent personality traits and they know what they do or don’t like and are able to communicate that well. So what if my son wants to be the Broadway Star singing in musicals his whole life and after taking care of dolls for years is a great, hands on father that sounds like a perfectly wonderful type of person to be to me.

So what if my daughter is the “toughest” one in the group, keeping her feelings to herself and never shedding a tear when she scrapes her knee. Sounds like she could be a great CEO or have the kind of strength it takes to be a great mom. Or maybe SHE will decide not have kids and travel the world. Great, I want to raise her so that she can have HER dreams come true.

So what if one son is going to be the Welterweight Champion or play professional football. I don’t want to ever see someone knock down my baby; a baby I protected with every fiber of my being for 8 months. But HIS dreams trump what I want. HIS dreams are what matter in HIS life.

Or what if another one of my kids decides to move to a whole other country, design video games and never visits me. Again, that is fabulous if it is what HE wants in HIS life.

We need to raise our kids not in our own image, but allow them to become the best version of themselves and pursue what makes them happy.

I think what a lot of parents are missing; what a lot of our society is missing is that children need the room to be themselves. We only need to offer support and encouragement in a safe, comforting environment where they can truly express themselves. If the home is the place where they can comfortably be themselves then they will have the strength to do that out in the world as well. The hard part is that we are all in this together parents – our kids have to share this world like it or not so we all need to teach them to respect one another.

We need to remind our children that beauty is in the differences. What makes us unique makes us interesting. Accepting people as they are without any prerequisites or stereotypical bias is what is important.

We need to describe people as they are in all their glory; not try to conform to make sure we are keeping up with our neighbors or society’s expectations.

Yours Truly,

A hot-tempered, serious-minded, overly optimistic, super shy girl doing the best I can to offer my children room to grow into their best selves. A woman who adores her husband, in spite of how upset he can make me. Writing against my better judgement to an audience I am forever grateful to and above all else I love my family, friends, books, converse and coffee. Oh, I do love coffee. And Converse – I also really love Converse.

My baby girl…

This past weekend I was on a run and Jason Mraz came on my iPod. His lyrics reminded me of my little girl watching a cake bake and I decided I wanted to write her letter.

“If this life is one act
Why do we lay all these traps
We put them right in our path
When we just wanna be free

I will not waste my days
Making up all kinds of ways
To worry ’bout all the things
That will not happen to me

So I just let go
Of what I know I don’t know
And I know I only do this by

Living in the moment
Living my life
Easy and breezy
With peace in my mind
With peace in my heart
With peace in my soul
Wherever I’m going,
I’m already home
Living in the moment”

Jason Mraz

waiting on the cake

Dear D-Mack,

You can do anything. I love you. You are my baby girl, and I am so glad that you were born.

I lived the first half of my life in fear. So many things I didn’t do because I was afraid. I turned down scholarships, I stayed close to home, I did what was expected of me. I want you to always do what you want to do. When someone tries to tell you, “you can’t” – even if you are the one telling yourself that thinking it is the realistic logical thing to do remember that if you stay static then you are being status quo and you are so much more than status quo baby. So much more.

Other side of fear

A couple of days ago, I ran in the rain. There were only a few of us out there – playing in the rain. It got me thinking about how we bundle up and stay inside. I want you to know that life is full of rain. You go out in the rain and put your face up to the sky baby. Jump in the puddles. If you can learn to love the storm life is going to be so much easier for you and have so much more to offer. Don’t always wait for the rainbow – enjoy the whole storm, every bit. There is so much good in all of it.

keep your spirit

Keep our 3 family rules in mind – they apply all the time in every situation and I promise you these will get you far in life.

1. Treat others how you want to be treated.

2. Always try your best.

3. Use your manners.

Super Girl
Super Girl

Keep your great sense of humor and silly, unique spirit. You bring so much joy to all those around you.

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I also want you to know you go this. You can handle whatever it is that comes your way Whether it is:

  • First day of high school
  • First heartbreak
  • Mothering
  • Not mothering
  • Studying for the bar
  • Accepting your first job

God made you just like this on purpose baby and everything that happens you have it. You are so capable of each and everything that life sends your way. And you are never alone. I am always with you – no matter what. I will always have your back, baby. Don’t ever lose your faith.

Just a little word of advice, keep smiling and always smile for the camera. This comes from experience. Take it from the photos below – smiling for the camera is really the better option.

Trying to get out of the picture
Trying to get out of the picture
posing for the camera

It wasn’t so long ago, that I had forgotten who I was and what I was worth. It can be an easy thing to do. If you ever find yourself in the same spot – look around you. I am sure there are things right in front of you that you have forgotten to acknowledge. Give yourself the credit you deserve, give yourself forgiveness and go for whatever you want – the sky is the limit. You can have anything you want – I really believe that anything is possible and mostly I believe in you. Stay true to who you are – don’t let the trends or peer pressure sway you. You are unique and exquisitely made just exactly how you are.

Run in your bright coral pants and cheetah shoes
Run in your bright coral pants and cheetah shoes

Most of all don’t ever lose your spunk, your spirit – you are so beautiful inside and out. You have it all kiddo and I love you.

Spirited, Silly Girl
Spirited, Silly Girl

Live in the moment; with peace of heart, mind and soul.

Love you baby-

Mom

You too readers – live in the moment, with peace of heart, mind and soul.

-M

February Lessons…

Hi-de-ho Neighbors,

It is your friendly blogista here with her February living out loud lessons. If you are new here; each month I write down some lessons I have learned over the past month either from living out loud or just in general that I think are worthy of sharing. Below are February’s lessons. I hope you can relate.

1. Stealing ideas always pays off

Door notes

Now I am not talking about stealing like Zuckerberg, but stealing like taking a Pinterest idea stealing. I found a great Pinterest idea about writing a love note everyday in February and posting it on your kids’ doors. Loved it – thought it was quick, simple and fabulous little pick me up for everyone. I even left notes for my husband on our bedroom door. Everyone loved them – did I get all 28 done? No, but what’s the harm in writing 7 more the first week of March – nothing really.

2. Accepting others for who they are and letting go of what you can’t change

In the past I put a ton of energy into complaining about people who were mean or did things to irritate me. I thought that somebody had to hold them accountable for their actions. And you know what? Well I will tell you what. Doing that is exhausting for you and everyone listening to you. I now put time and energy into treating those people who are mean or drive me crazy like I would want to be treated. I feel so much better about myself and I think everyone else is happier that they don’t have to hear me complain anymore. Plus you can still hold people accountable and let them know how you feel by still treating them like you would like to be treated. Stressing over how other people behave is really not worth your time and the truth is if that person really is a pain in the but other people see it, too and they will crash and burn without you ever having to say a word.

3. Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity

Life slows down a bit when you focus on the simple things.

  • being grateful that you get to sit next to your sister on an hour flight home
  • relishing in the giggling of your toddlers while you push them in the swings.
  • getting to see snow – when you haven’t seen snow in years.
  • having your little one hold your hand
  • when your nine-year old kisses you goodnight when you fall asleep on the couch
  • having your friends come over to see you
  • having a friend drop everything to meet you for dinner (Thanks, Rebecca).
  • seeing a rainbow in the Starbucks parking lot (that is a double win by the way because you have your coffee in hand while you are witnessing a little bit of magic in the sky).
Starbucks Rainbow
Starbucks Rainbow

4. So much fun watching my kids hang out

Brothers

I love when my kids all get along. It is tons of fun to watch them all get along and play together. It is also so sweet how much my little ones look up to the older ones. I savor those good moments.

5. I am a fan of jeggings – a big fan – and I don’t care what Jen Hatmaker says or writes in her next book.

So I know some people are so over this jeggings trend, but I have to tell you – I am a super huge fan. They are comfortable and for the most part pretty darn cute. I know, I know you think some people shouldn’t wear them and well when you say crap like that you sound like Laurent Potdevin, former CEO of Lululemon and we all know what that got him.

Plus, the jeggings below were a Valentine’s gift from my parents and they pretty much are the most awesome pants I own. I am not alone either, 63 other happy fans gave them 5 stars!

Bettona Straight Edition Pant
Bettona Straight Edition Pant

6. Consistency is hard

up notification

Consistency is especially hard when even your stupid UP24 app reminds you that you are a lagger. I work at a computer all day – it is really difficult to get those steps in and trying to stick to a routine isn’t in my DNA. That is all – just saying being consistent is hard work.

7. Every job is important

I recently locked myself out of my iPhone. I have an app on my phone for work that requires a password to get into the phone. That way in the event that it is stolen they can protect the data on the phone. Anyway I am the idiot that sets a new password and literally 40 minutes later completely forgets it. But my idiocy doesn’t stop there. Oh no, it gets better. I kept trying to get in convinced that I would remember my password. Epic failure on my part. I locked my phone for 60 minutes. When I called the help desk they had never had anyone lock their phone for that amount of time.

Here is the great thing though, the customer support was fantastic. The guy was from Boston and stayed on the phone with me for quite a while and then made sure that I was able to get back into my phone. He never once made me feel like an idiot and when I thanked him he told me how people have given him a really hard time in the past.

I am always astounded by people who treat others as less than. Every single person is important and every single job is important. We need someone to do those jobs to make the world go round most of the time. We have to remember the Golden Rule – ALWAYS. Seriously people – seriously. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t had his help that day to get back into my phone quickly.

8. If you need a little pick me up – Jimmy Fallon is the answer

Okay – pretty much everything this guy says makes me laugh. If I am in a funk I have learned to just YouTube Jimmy Fallon and watch what comes up and before I know it I am in a way better mood.

Check out this #momtexts clip. I was C.L.A.H. – watch and you will know what that means.

#momtexts

9. Last, but not least, having someone believe in your more that you believe in yourself is incredibly flattering.

My dad and I were talking and he said, “You should put that in your book. People will really relate to that.” I haven’t even started my book and I am not sure that I will ever write one, but he is convinced that I will and that is one of the greatest feelings in the world to have someone else believe in me that much.

I wish you all a person who believes in you more than you believe in yourself,

M