Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

Snippets from Heaven: Part 2

On a Monday evening in July, I was making my second call of the day for a phone appointment. I never know what to expect in any session. As per usual, I only knew Michele’s name and nothing more. She had contacted me via email and given me just the details that she would like an hour session and phone was fine with her.

She had patiently waited a month to speak with me. During the session, we were able to connect with her father.

If you don’t know already, dear reader, I remember little about each appointment.

I know I enjoyed speaking with her dad and was in awe of his ability to connect so clearly with her as he had only been in heaven a short time. His messages were filled with love for his daughter, and he expressed a great deal of joy. I recall liking him and connecting with him in a way I would a new friend. I loved the comfort and peace that rested so firmly in his soul. But even more, I enjoyed his humor and that he couldn’t pass up an opportunity to give me a hard time.

As the session ended, Michele’s dad said,  “Thank you for calling me.” I relayed this message and I then thanked Michele, as well. And Michele said, “I think he is talking to both of us.” I was a bit confused and didn’t have to wait long for Michele to clarify.

She said that she and her dad shared a love of all things spiritual and had always wanted to go see a medium together. They didn’t know who they wanted to see and about a month before Michele’s dad passed away, he called her. During the call, he said he had just spoken to a friend and had found their medium. He told her to write down the contact information. Michele was excited and wanted to know when they were going to make an appointment to see this medium together. He told her that she should go see the medium first, by herself. She was confused about why they couldn’t go together. She shrugged it off. But when her dad passed a month later, it all became clear. She felt that he had found the medium that he, himself wanted to communicate through.

Then Michele said words that blew my mind, “The medium he found was you.” And I heard her wave a paper in her hand. Then as I expressed disbelief, she messaged me the below picture.

By the way, I may have asked for proof – I know I am totally the skeptic, and it is entirely ironic please remember my post on offering compassion before passing judgment; I am a human after all. 

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Shared with consent from Michele

But there it was. Michele shared with me that her father and chosen me to speak through. I am still in total awe.

Not only is it remarkable to me that he picked me himself before he passed, but it also came at such a perfect time. As messages from spirit tend to do.

As you all know, I struggle with faith and how I fit into that picture often. (If you are new, dear reader, now you know and if you are an old friend, dear reader, you, of course, understood that already.) I love God, I knew God before I understood how to explain Him. And yet, I am some sort of abomination to those whose faith has them cling to literal interpretations. I have made my peace with God because it is only His opinion that matters. Only He knows my heart inside and out. Only He knows my soul with complete clarity. And He is my creator; so He knows I was made just this way with purpose and intent. Anyway, it still stings when I get messages about how people are praying for my soul and that they hope I don’t go to hell for what I do. And it still stings to be made fun of and reprimanded that I do this for personal gain. But I don’t think I would be human if it didn’t hurt.

Regardless, I had once again been thinking about my sessions and was wondering with a heavy heart if I was on the right path; if I was making a difference. And this reading happened. Literally not an hour after I had pondered those thoughts with a heavy heart. Here was spirit saying not only did they want to communicate with me; but I was being selected by them explicitly. My heart still bursts with honor and love. I can’t even imagine; out of all the souls that they could choose; they will pick me. And this beautiful reminder; helped me to remember just to keep going forward, helping one person at a time; doing the best I can right where I am and that, no matter what anyone else says; that alone is enough.

What else struck me about this was, Michele continued to connect the dots between spirit and how they chose to communicate. She sent me the following message (*names have been changed to protect their identity):

“Not sure if you remember Monica* – she came in a few weeks back, with her mom on the phone. She’s my girlfriend who’s father passed 10 days after mine,… My dad brought them into your life as well. When you said your 2 friends told 2 friends, I thought about how my dad’s friend told him, he told me & I told Monica*,… It’s amazing to step back and think about how life works and how we are all connected to each other.”

I think we forget how connected we are to each other. I think we forget that underneath our skin and bones is a soul, and that soul is intertwined with the other souls here on Earth deeply and profoundly. I think when we remember this; we remember to treat others with grace, and compassion, I believe when we remember this hate evaporates and only love can remain. We know each other at a soul level in a way our brains can only just begin to comprehend. And our souls are speaking to one another. And all the while our loved ones in Heaven are guiding us and working with one another to make sure we are loved and protected from Heaven, too.

I will close this with the same words I used when I messaged Michele back:

“We can tear up together. You are not alone. I am thanking him; over and over. He thinks it is appropriate, too. He absolutely thinks he deserves all the credit. The grin on his face is priceless!”

Hopefully, you will remember joy, love, and light are ever-present around you. Your loved ones are not lost; they are alive and well, thriving in Heaven finding ways to continue to be a part of your daily lives; holding you close and dear as ever. You are not alone.

Love and light, until next time,

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Pass the praise

Pass the praise

This weekend I had the opportunity for an all-girls overnight. A couple of moms and I took our daughters to the Niall Horan concert. It was refreshing. My daughter was in heaven with all the make-up and hair curling. She was excited to be around all that feminine energy. I was, too.

We had a marvelous time. It was enchanting to witness moms dancing and singing with their daughters. The smiling, the laughing. Empowering to feel the connection with others. And to top it all off, it was a magnificent night. Dazzling.

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What complicated things for me was the amount of judgment that I took in. I heard and saw women (both young and old) one-upping, dissing anything from clothes to dance moves, and condemning the behavior of others.

This is so normal. And it is so wretched.

In my heart, I believe one of the biggest things keeping women down is each other. We are truly capable of amazing, brilliant accomplishments. Yet, we stomp on each other until our fire goes out; until the spark that makes us unique is covered up and hidden so that it can’t be chastised by others.

In a group of women, I am quiet. I am so reserved and hidden. There are a few groups where I feel like I can entirely be me. And often even then I wonder what is said about me between them when I am not present. And this has everything to do with past experience. Ugh.

More than twenty years ago, I decided that I wanted to change the behavior I witnessed between women; the critical judgment of appearance as we look one another up and down when we first set eyes on one another. Not necessary. The ease of passing a snarky comment about how another girl is dressed or behaving. Instead of prepping for disdain when I looked at or spoke to a woman, I always wanted to have a compliment ready. I wanted to build my sisters up because I felt so beaten down. I was exhausted, and I wasn’t even 20 yet.

I still have a friend that teases me about how we met. I saw her leaving class; we had History 17A&B together in college. She was magnetic even then. People were drawn to her. She was always in a group in and out of class. But even the best of us have bad days. We were leaving class one afternoon, and she looked so sad. She was alone, and her movements seemed heavy and deliberate. Every fiber of my being wanted to cheer her up. The compliment I had ready spilled from my mouth. “I really love your hair!” I said as I jogged to catch her. I don’t even remember her exact words, but I remember the smile. I remember the change in her step after I said it. She always tells people I was hitting on her; that’s her story of how we met.

But, why can’t we offer praise instead of judgment? Why does judgment so easily trickle off our tongues? Why does criticism slide so effortlessly from our lips?

Compassion

When I was little my mom used to play this game with us. We would be sitting on the beach and be bored or eating in a restaurant and get restless, and she would pick people out and ask us to tell her their story. What made them happy? What made them sad? What were they doing there? Why? How did they get there? What was their family like? Where did they live? She would ask us how we got to a specific conclusion and would even offer alternatives if we had missed something or not taken some other reason into consideration.

There are so many times in my interaction with people I try to figure out their story. This game my mom had us play became something that helped me to work and always find a way to better understand what people might be feeling or needing from experience.

When I see a mom with a child who is misbehaving; I don’t pass judgment on her parenting – I offer her praise for how well she is coping at that moment; because – and this is IMPORTANT (yes, I am using preachy capital letters at you) what happened around that moment – I don’t know; and you don’t either. But I can imagine. I am a mom of four and have carried screaming children out of stores, I was also a kid, and there are several stories of my epic fits. I empathize with that poor mom the way I would with my own mother. The way I would want someone to sympathize with me. We don’t know the backdrop of what caused a particular moment to become a reality; we only have that one snippet. One small piece of someone else’s life and it isn’t ours to judge.

Granted, I am not saying that we give everyone a pass. What I am saying is trying to understand before you pass judgment on another human should be a more common practice. Or maybe just merely understand. And then perhaps just as simple, offer compassion instead.

And more importantly; we can’t help someone we are rooting against. If we are rooting against them, we want them to fail. If we are rooting against them, then we are placing that negative energy on another and giving more negative energy life. We can only help; when we are rooting for; when we are the cheerleaders of others. So we have to offer compassion in the place of our judgment to help others heal and find another way. And maybe we should put the “us and them” language aside, too. Perhaps if we are rooting for one another, we are rooting for everyone all at once. And maybe that makes this world more livable, too.

Believe me, I am not void of passing judgment. And boy oh boy can I hold a grudge. But I remind myself that I need to release myself from the guilt of passing judgment and that I can do better next time. So, I get ready to have a compliment on hand and give that instead of judgment. I work hard not to partake in the negative talk that happens around me. That doesn’t mean I haven’t caught myself doing it, but I work to remove myself from these situations.

How you may ask? I work tirelessly to lift up others instead.

Seriously, you will find me in the grocery store, at Target, at an event, giving compliments to complete strangers. And I mean every word. It is essential to speak the truth in your compliments, too. You have to believe it. People see through bullshit compliments pretty easily. Just saying.

It is essential to speak the truth in your compliments, too. You have to believe it. People see through bullshit compliments pretty easily.

It is so worth the work! To see a smile and a difference in the step of another human because you helped to remind them of their strengths, is beyond powerful. It is like witnessing love in motion. It is spell-binding. Try it. I know it will make you both feel better. And then if you have a daughter or son, teach them this little trick, too. What a world we could live in if we all exchanged praise instead of judgment. We are going to slip up, we are human, we are built to make mistakes, but if we speak with compassion more often than judgment we are better off all the way around.

Peace and love,

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Mean 

Mean 

Fridays are usually my kids favorite days. No homework means straight up fun all afternoon. After the first full week of school I thought my kids would be stoked that Friday afternoon had finally arrived.
All seemed good in the car. Of course my momdar (mom + radar) should have gone off when my daughter asked, “Do you like my outfit?” five minutes into our car ride home.

By the time we arrived home and kids piled out of the car, tears were streaming down her face. “What happened?” I asked; still not putting two and two together.

After a long hug and a few sobs she tells me that a girl said to her, “What are you wearing? Seriously, if you had just changed the bottom of that outfit maybe it would have been okay.” 

Fury. White-hot anger. Pain. Hurt. All this washes over me for her. As that simmers to a calm, I try to clean away this comment that will forever leave a stain. Nothing I say can completely erode the hurt from her heart. I know from experience. Whoever said, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was a full-fledged dreamer and a stone cold liar.

We talk about responses for next time because apparently this girl thinks everyone needs to hear her opinion no matter what it is. My girl is finally calm and she decides to change her clothes. And even though we move past that hurtful moment, it sits with me still when my eyes pop open at 6 AM Saturday morning.

Kids say hurtful things. Adults say hurtful things. 

I feel that I am doing my part for humanity to teach my children that if something isn’t helpful, kind, or necessary that maybe that little piece of information is better left unsaid. We talk about the Golden Rule at least 10 times a day. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you – or in our speak – treat others how you want to be treated.

But…will mean ever never stop?

Hurt people; hurt people. People who feel low and little feel the path to rise up is through stealing someone else’s power. 

Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” This quote is embroidered into my soul. 

Children learn to speak by listening to those around them. I hear the words I say spill from my children’s lips.

I have heard people say that parents cannot be blamed for how their children behave. I have heard moms excuse away mean behavior with “kid will be kids”.

If we don’t teach them, if we don’t take responsibility for who they become then who will? What will ever change?

I know what occurred Friday isn’t the first or last time that something like this will happen. Heck, I am an adult and I still face these challenges and comments from other adults! What hurts my heart more deeply is that this happens to all of us. That our world still has people in it that find excuses for hate – they hide behind religion, race, history or whatever excuse they can find to eradicate the simple fact that each of us alone is responsible for what we bring to the table. It comes down to the individual and if you can hurl a hate-filled slur at another human it has nothing to do with anything but your own bad behavior. There is no excuse you can hide behind. Your poor choices and actions stand alone. No circumstance, no religion, no difference, nothing defends that action. You hurt another human. That is all. 

We need to teach our children that simple fact. We are the same. Despite our exterior and cultural differences, we are the same. We all have a heart. We all want love. We all need the human basics – water, food, etc. Treat one another with respect. Do not hurt another person. It should just be that simple. 

Until next time,

Michelle

Holiday Cheer 2016

Holiday Cheer 2016

Four years ago I had a mommy breakdown. I know shocker! But something different happened this time, instead of just stifling it and pushing it inward, I reached out for help. Picking up the phone, I dialed a college friend and she picked up. I laid out the mommy drama that had dropped me to my knees and she listened.

Two weeks later a package was on my doorstep. It was the “we can do hard things” sign I had wanted for some time. It was from her.

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This gift made a huge impact. For the next few days each time I saw that sign my urge to pay that kindness forward grew and grew. It only took me a bit to come up with an idea.

See we are inundated with crime, drama, strife, and pain. It is all over our media print and otherwise. What I wasn’t seeing, even person to person, was the type of positivity that had happened to me. Being a young mom you are out on an island and you don’t ge much encouragement. Tons of advice, but very few pats on the back. I had this idea that we needed to reach out and life people up.

Cheer Day 25

So Holiday Cheer was born. I wanted to nominate 25 people in the community and from December 1st to December 25th deliver gifts to people to let them know that there was a community behind them. The point was to just life someone’s spirits.

I decided to put the idea out there and sure enough I turned into we quickly with people sending in nominations and helping purchase gifts for 25 recipients.

Each year this little fundraiser has grown and grown. Last year we raised close to $3,000 in gift cards, cash donations, and gifts. It was amazing to say the least. This is year four and it has been relatively quiet. This year, is the first year I am a bit afraid that I may not be able to pull this off. I really do need lots of help this year.

We have completed one online party and now have lots of thirty-one bags to wrap gifts in, but we only have a handful of nominees. So if you know anyone that could use some Holiday Cheer then email me at mlmurnin@yahoo.com with your nomination and a little about them and get them on this list. There is plenty of room.

This Sunday is the big kick off for donations. I am having a LulaRoe party at the house. The proceeds from this party will go to several of the nominees on the list. They will get buttery, soft leggings and cute little dresses and for those of you that live close by you can swing by and do some shopping for yourself or drop off your donation. If you can’t make it don’t worry; I will post an online link for that party as well. We will also have hand made scarves for purchase.

In addition, there will be Stella and Dot displays and an online party link for shopping. And last but not least my sweet friend Christy who is super crafty will be selling her hand-made signs. There will be a couple on display and you can leave orders with me for her. She is making five for our nominees currently. I have included some photos below.

Aren’t these gorgeous?! I know. Christy is wicked talented and super sweet. I can’t wait to see the signs that will be given to our nominees.

So what do we still need?

We need nominations of course, but also…

  • Gift cards: Starbucks, Peet’s, Target, Toys R Us, Safeway, Chevron, Barnes & Noble, TJ Maxx, Day Spa, Ice Cream, Disney
  • Activity Books for a 12-year-old boy and a 14-year-old girl
  • 8 x 10 frames
  • Good smelling candles
  • Cute inspirational signs – Hobby Lobby has some right now for 50% off.
  • Fun board games for 4-6 year old boys
  • Anything you think might be helpful – donations are always welcome

If you want to do some holiday shopping or purchase something for one of our nominees you can shop online with Stella and Dot here.

I am so excited to make a difference again this fourth year! Let’s make it happen. Let’s do good and life one another up.

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I thank you in advance for helping make a difference,

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Scared

Scared

In a weeks time I have written about bravery and grace and just being okay with the falls we experience in life and yet no matter how much I try there is an undercurrent of fear in my heart.

It’s okay to be scared right? Lately I am scared of everything. Okay longer than lately; it started when I was born. I think I was born with extra sensitivity to the world and somehow that made me more afraid of the world; well maybe not the world, but the energy and emotions in it.

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I am scared of the little and the big things.

For starters, I am scared that no matter how much I empty my heart and pour it into my writing that this blog will continue to be nothing more than a diary that is more important to me than anyone else, which is okay, but I want to be a writer so much it hurts. So much that sometimes I run and hide from my own writing and I don’t write because no matter how hard I try or much I write it will never be good enough for anyone else to read.

I am scared that no matter how much I know that God loves me and believes that I am enough;  I will never feel like I am enough. That the weight I continue to feel will only continue to grow – this weight that I feel has already manifested itself into the weight that I carry and I can feel myself waving the white flag as I am crushed somewhere underneath it all. I am scared that no matter how much I want to be seen; that no one really sees me at all.

I stopped watching the news a decade ago because if it hurt my heart then it definitely could damage my tiny son’s ears and heart, too. So off went the news, because I was so scared and my heart was so hurt by the toxins that spewed from it. There had to be better things to report. But now when we are praising men for sitting during our national anthem, when our police officers are seen as the criminals and men are shot in the street for the color of their skin and whole groups of people are killed around the world for their ethnicity or beliefs and our leaders seem filled with more darkness than light maybe there isn’t better news to report. And that is scary. So scary that when I think about the world I am terrified that no matter how kind I am or how much good I try to put into the world that the darkness in it will swallow me up whole and not just me, everything that I hold sacred; everything and everyone that I love.

Scared doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about being a parent. Failing seems to be the name of the game. I know I have taught them manners and I know they are the kids that will help other kids and be kind; that part of life I think they understand. They are really great kids. But this year my kindergarteners have been kicked, choked, pushed, shoved, yanked and called names with words I don’t even allow out of my own mouth. My daughter continues to try to navigate a place where mean is the norm. That scares the crap out of me. I have had to teach them how to fend for themselves and that shouldn’t even exist at their age. What in the heck is happening in the world that our children are behaving this way? This scares me to death. Haven’t we come to be a civilized people where we don’t have to fear for our lives every time we walk out into the world?

The chaos is gobbling up the innocence of our world. The chaos and darkness are pushing out the light at a fierce pace and I can’t help but feel helpless. And that terrifies me. How can I help my own children understand a world that scares the shit out of me? Scares me to the point that I can’t read the news anymore either, because what I read leaves me shaky and nauseous.

Yesterday as we drove home from school the kids started to talk about how they feel things they can’t see. How the current of energy runs through them. Other people’s energy. This scares me to death. They are like me, extra feel-y. I still struggle with not letting other people’s energy invade my space, my emotions, my thoughts. How am I going to teach my littles not only how to fend off actual physical threats but also emotional, maybe even spiritual ones too? They feel this same unbalanced chaotic energy in the world that I do and can’t explain how or why it is hurting them.

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I know we have to go forward and love one another and do good and continue to live our lives to the fullest and that the darkness wins when we feel fear, but sometimes that isn’t enough to stop me from feeling it. Sometimes I am engulfed in fear and feel shaky all day.

I know people who the absolute worst has happened in their lives and they continue to take one step forward; sometimes because life forces them to, but they do it. I am inspired by that and I know that despite my fear that I will continue on as I have been and do my best to do good any way, but I feel better admitting the fear.

Maybe if we are afraid together something good can come of that. Maybe acknowledging the fear leads to a way to face those things we fear and conquer them. Maybe…

Scared but hopeful,

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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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Life breathers

Life breathers

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life-breathers, too.

Yesterday was like any other day; work steadily flowing in and projects to complete, kids to love and instruct, bickering to manage, meals to prepare, guilt and stress to squelch, and of course the echoes of the outside world that sneak into our lives via radio and TV. But as life does there were some pretty amazing moments yesterday and a wonderful visit from a beautiful, sincere friend. Those are the life breathers, the moments that give my life the pick up that it needs, the moments that matter more than the noise.

Lately the world has been super topsy-turvy. But, somewhere in the world it has always been super topsy-turvy. I am like you though, I feel a bit like my nerve endings are open to the world and when I watch the news or read an article about politics I am left feeling anxious and disappointed and saddened by those people in the world whose poor choices hurt other people.

The thing that gives me hope are life breathers, the moments and people who remind me that there is love, courage, kindness, and just plain good in the world. For me yesterday when things were getting a bit crazy and I had sat at the computer long enough and the kids had bickered long enough, I dragged them on a bike ride. My daughter was less than happy about it to say the least.

As we peddled along, and she sulked along, her brothers began to laugh and smile in the open air. I praised their attitudes and got a, “WOW, mom! You are the worst mom ever!” It stung, it always does. But, then it also made me laugh. If I am getting under her skin and holding her accountable for her behavior I am doing my job. And for a moment I thought about how so many moms and dads, grandpas, grandmas, aunts, and uncles are all trying to do their job giving a child the things they need even when it is tough love so that the world can be filled with people who are compassionate, thoughtful, responsible, and well just plain good.

That in itself was a life breather, that thought filled me with hope for our world, reminded me that there is so much good out there.

We came home and my parents stopped by. They are leaving on a cruise and wanted to give the boys their birthday gifts. Just watching them interact with the boys and the joy everyone had at just being together…that was a life breather. And to top it off, the goofy moment when I was trying to get the Spiderman silly string figured out so that it would spray correctly and accidentally squirted it right at my dad’s face and the ceiling; that was a life breather. We both laughed so hard. It felt good to laugh that hard. Life is funny and that is a life breather. We need to laugh.

We sent them on their way and I filled the dinner table with plates of food I prepared; a home-cooked meal, and that was a life breather. Sitting all together as a family over food I prepared. It felt good to breathe in that life moment. It buoyed me up and reminded me how to let the little things carry the same weight as the big things, maybe even more sometimes. I tend to let my mistakes carry the most weight; in fact sometimes I think my actual body weight is proportional to the guilt I feel about what I mess up in life. It is important to allow the moments of success fill you up, too.

At at the end of the evening my dear, wonderfully vulnerable, honest and real friend came by in her pajamas. I was in heaven. That was such a life breather. She had a terrible, horrible, no good bad day and came to seek a few moments of refuge with little old me; I was almost in tears I felt so honored and thankful. We talked until midnight. Sitting and talking with her reminded me just how much people need other people. We need to be seen and loved and lifted up; it breathes life into us like nothing else can. It puts the fires out when we stop and see one another. When we stop and listen to each other’s stories and offer meaningful exchange, we change the world for the better.

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The bottom line is that life breathers can be little moments of happiness, peace, joy, sanctuary, ah-ha moments, or life breathers can be other people who love us unconditionally or the best part is we can be a life breather for someone else, or everyone else we meet.

Now, I know no one is perfect and thank goodness we aren’t. We would never learn anything or be even the slight bit interesting if everyone were perfect. The point being, we can’t always be life breathers, everyone once in a great while can have a fire-breathing dragon moment, that is just the way it is. But if we are life breathers most of the time what a wonderful world it would be; and what a wonderful world it is because if we really stop and pay attention and drown out the noise of the media saying, “Look here, look here” and we chose to look for the life breathers instead of the fire breathing dragons; I think you will find what I have found, there are way more life breathers in the world; way more.

In a world that always has fire-breathing dragons we need life breathers, too.

Until next time,

me

Day 19: Some dads are just super

This year as I was collecting nominations for Holiday Cheer, I mentioned it to one of the teachers at my children’s school. I knew she was a long-standing member of the community and she would know if anyone was in need of some cheer this holiday season.

Without hesitation she knew the perfect family. She told me about Lee Block and his daughters, Sarah and Lauren. Lee’s wife and their mother, Michelle,  had battled Ovarian Cancer. She was a teacher in the Gilroy Unified School District for 17 years and just recently retired. And then in September she passed away.

The teacher who nominated this family had known them for years and knew that despite their amazing strength that this holiday would be the first of many difficult ones. She thought it would be great if The Holiday Cheer Elves could do something for them.

We were able to put together a few items for everyone. We were able to get some gift certificates for the movies, Bass Pro Shop and dinner for Lee and the girls were each given “Inspire” necklaces from Stella and Dot, lotions, Beauty Society product and movie gift certificates.

The teacher that nominated them made the delivery with another family friend and this is what she had to say,

Success!  We delivered the basket to Lee, Sarah, and Lauren this evening and lucked out that all were home.  At first Lee thought it was something from us, and then from Rucker.  We explained it was the Holiday Elves.  I think they were very touched….the girls were quite excited to be included in the gift and all are quite excited at the idea of visiting the new Bass Pro store.”

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It is so lovely, that you were all able to offer love and support to this family during the holidays. Thank you to all who contributed. You are an amazing community and what you do does make a difference.

Sincerely,

Michelle & The Holiday Cheer Elves

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

Holiday Cheer Day 6: A guest post from Tiff

YouAreLoved_Black_8x10_HappyHippoArts (1)For today’s nominee I would like to share the nomination letter that was submitted by Tiff about Stephanie. Tiff relays why Stephanie needed Holiday Cheer:

“This recipient is an extraordinary lady. She is an amazing mom, daughter, friend, wife, sister and all around phenomenally loving spirit. She manages to keep this incredible beaming kinetic energy, and awesome sense of humor, and joy for life even during the rockiest of times. She has dealt with an exceptionally tough year, with some financial and medical issues that would have knocked anyone of the Avengers to their knees, but she has weathered it with an open and loving heart. For this reason , I was very excited to be able to nominate her.

She is one of those people that spend her time making sure that she has taken care of all the people around her that she loves. She is always taking care of everyone else, sometimes to the exclusion of herself. Her kids are such great, bright, centered little guys, and it is because she gives them balance and strength, and a soft, safe place to land when times get rough. She is the kind of mom who lets them be themselves , and reminds them that they don’t need to let anyone else define them.

She has also directed that same sense of light and love toward her other family members and friends. She is that mom who you would go to for shelter, for help, or just if you needed to whine about something. My gratitude for this woman is huge. My respect for how she lives her life as a go-er, a do-er and a mama-bear extraordinaire is unending. She has talked me off many anxiety ledges and has been such a comfort; a true friend when I was feeling isolated and alone. 

Her effect on all the other people around her is deep and profound. I don’t think she realizes how much she truly does impact so many of us. I think this was a way to let her know how very much she is loved and appreciated. She has this gift of turning her burden into blessings on a daily basis and in doing so she is teaching her boys and all the rest of us an invaluable lesson: Cherish what you have right now…the rest of the story will play out in its own good time. Thanks for the lesson, my friend.”

Not only does this beautiful letter describe our recipient perfectly, more magic happened with this nomination when a local hair stylist, Patty Ann came forward asking to help out a whole family. She wanted to donate to a family because she had known hardship herself and had received kindness. She took this as an opportunity to pay it forward. Patty Ann (shown below) collected a grocery gift card, and herself bought a tree, Vans gift cards for the boys, a cut and color for Stephanie, and dinner and movie out. Patty Ann is also an extraordinary person and that these two selfless women were connected through Holiday Cheer is so very touching to me.

So cherish what you have,

Tiff & Patty Ann

 

Holiday Cheer Day 5:Selfless

IMG_3242 (1)Our nominee for day five is Karin. Karin has recently become the primary caregiver for her mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She has selflessly opened up her home to both her mother and father while her mother battles this disease.

Despite what Karin is going through on a personal level, she always remains positive and upbeat. If you didn’t know about her personal life and were just meeting her, you would never know what she was going through. She never complains and is always ready to listen to others and help where she can.

Karin, also opens up her home to other members of her family as they need it. This past summer her niece was living with her. It is just second nature to Karin to help others when they are in need.

Our Holiday Cheer Elves were able to get her a little de-stress gift basket with relaxing lotions, beauty supplies, candles, a spa gift card, wine and a homemade scarf. We hope that she can take a little time to herself and know that she is an everyday hero.

Sincerely.

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)

 

 

October lessons…2015 Style

October lessons…2015 Style

The weather here in California is not getting with the program that it is October. It has been hot and humid with very few cool days. We need rain out here and I know there are parts of the world where things are much worse, but I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t complain a itty bit. As the year draws to its last quarter, I think my reflecting on what I have learned is becoming more blunt and matter of fact. Hopefully my hard-earned wisdom with help you find the same knowledge without as much work.

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It is more than okay to say, “No.”

A few weeks ago I planned a playdate for a Friday afternoon evening, where my mom friends and their kids could stop by and hang for a bit. I promised pizza and drinks. Well my week quickly went from okay to crazy. My grandmother had a major stroke, the kids were giving me major run around on every teenie tiny thing, a few extra work projects fell into my lap and I finally decided it was all too much and cancelled the get together. I just knew if I attempted to pull it off I would stress and be over exhausted and bad company. What I found from this was the amazing group of friends I am blessed with. Almost each one of the women I invited praised me for cancelling. They totally understood. One of my dear friends dropped off flowers. All of them offered help and I sat back in awe and wonder of these fabulous friends. I am so blessed that these people are in my life. I know how great they all are, but by saying no and being honest with them that I couldn’t do it all I was able to see this side of them as well and I am so glad that I did. Of course, one said she would come TP my house and yes that made me love her even more.

If you are like me and need to hear that having a meltdown even as an adult is okay…then it is okay; really it is.

Do you find yourself trying so hard not to lose your mind at the child that questions your every ask? Do you find yourself trying to stay calm as you wait for your child to find their shoe when you needed to leave for soccer 5 minutes ago? Are you constantly stepping on Legos that were supposed to be cleaned up 20 minutes ago? Do you find yourself breathing deeply while you listen to your children bicker and argue about who DID NOT spill the milk all over the kitchen and not tell anyone? Do you ever have to plunge an over-clogged toilet that some sweet child used even though it was already clogged and pray to the God’s of human waste to please not let anything spill over the edges only to have your prayers go unanswered? I can empathize. Sometimes all of this happens in one day and when your children start to argue in the car you lose your mind and snap at them all only to feel terrible 10 minutes later and have to apologize for yelling, but not for being fed up with their behavior. Yep, that’s an average day of parenting and you should cut yourself some slack because we can’t all be Mary Poppins or Florence Henderson – our days don’t fade to black and magically have help. Our days run together and we make it by flying by the ever-loving seat of our very own pants. So don’t feel bad if you lose your shit; it happens, it passes and then maybe two weeks later it happens again, but it will all pass and mostly your kids will remember the good times. Mostly.

Then there are moments like these:

play ball

#forthembecauseofher
#forthembecauseofher
thumbs up

brothers & friends

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Fluttering together

Fluttering TextFluttering

Give back to the community as a family.

This past September and October we fluttered; which is an awareness and fundraising campaign for a non-profit group Unravel that raises money for pediatric cancer research. They also give money to families with children who are battling cancer. We created some great memories out there, but also along the way learned about bravery, empathy, kindness, and hardship. It is such a wonderful opportunity to help and learn all at the same time. So pick your cause and then fight it together as a family.

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Being scared is human and also more than okay.

I am over-weight. I struggle with that a great deal. It would seem that it would be an easy fix, but so far it has not been for me. I am often afraid that people think I am lazy, undisciplined, and gross all because I can’t get a handle on my weight. Lately, I don’t even want to go out in public because of how I look. I know my life being crazy is an excuse, but still it has been hard to squeeze the “me time” I need into my days.

My best friend is coming to see me and I am terrified that she will no longer be my friend once she sees me. Totally illogical and off-base thinking, but it hasn’t stopped me from actually thinking it. But instead of brandishing myself for my fear; I am embracing it. It is okay to be afraid. I need to move past this fear because the most important thing is showing up and being seen.

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Sometimes those damn Facebook quizzes have too much truth in them for a Friday night or any day of the week really.

So I know you take these because I have seen you post the results from time to time. Those FB quizzes; they suck us in because really sometimes we want to know who our Hollywood boyfriend might be, or what our name really means. So I took the name one and it was great, but it also said I was moody. And right away I was like you stupid FB quiz what do you know…you don’t know me. And then I took breath and was like damn you; how did you know that. I am moody, but I did not need my iPhone to tell me that. Sometimes it’s better knowing and being in a blissful denial than reading in black and white and I right or am I right?

Before I sign off I just want to take a moment and say thank you! Thank you for reading my blog. I have a great audience of friends, family, and internet friends that join here to read and support what I write and I am beyond grateful.

Via Pinterest. Click photo to be taken to the source.
Via Pinterest. Click photo to be taken to the source.
Until next time,

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Cheer Day 29

Cheer Day 29

Cheer Day 29

On the 29th of December, Tiffany was able to deliver a gift of cheer to Melissa. Tiffany nominated Melissa because she knew Melissa could use a little extra cheer. Melissa had been diagnosed with breast cancer earlier in 2014 and was finishing up her last rounds of chemo in December.

Melissa is a mother of four and married to a police officer. When I first moved to Gilroy, Melissa was the first person to say hi. We instantly bonded over both being moms of four and would often share a sigh or smile over just making it to school on time in the morning with our younger kids in tow.

Melissa’s smile is the first thing you notice about her. It is the biggest, brightest ray of light. Over the last months of 2014 I never saw that smile fade, even when she was fighting this horrid disease. Her courage and strength inspire us all.

Melissa is actively involved in her children’s school. She volunteers in classrooms, for events, and is there daily to offer a helping hand. She also is actively involved in her children’s activities. Melissa continued to be involved throughout her treatment as much as she could be. The campaign around town in support of her fight was Melissa Strong and that is exactly what and who Melissa is, STRONG.

Cheer Day 29 Gift

Melissa you are an amazing mother and wife, a true friend, and a hero to all those that know you.

Love,

The Cheer Squad

Cheer Day 25

Cheer Day 25

Merry Christmas

Good morning and Merry Christmas my sweet Cheer Squad and lovely readers.

Today’s recipient is the first person I thought of when I set out to do the 25 Days of Holiday Cheer this year. Her current situation is something my family has lived through first hand. Lori a mother of three grown children was just getting into the swing of the second half of her life with her husband, Sam when their plans changed dramatically. To understand Lori and Sam, you have to know their whole story.

 

Sam and Lori started dating when she was a freshman in high school. Sam a few years older than Lori chose BYU for college because it was the only college to offer housing for married couples despite being offered several scholarships from Division 1 schools.They were married as soon as she was eighteen and they moved to Utah.

Sam went to school and played football and Lori got a job at the local grocery store to support him. They went on to have a great first half of life raising three children. So as they began their second half of life as empty nesters they received devastating news; at the age of 56 the love of her life was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s. The beauty in this story is how the love story continues.

True Love

She has taken care of him day and night. This past two years have been extremely hard on her because at times Sam gets aggressive and has no idea she’s his wife. Sam has progressed fast and can no longer dress himself or go to the bathroom on his own. Despite his rapid progression Lori continues to care for him in their home. Through it all Lori remains patient and loving. Lori continues to work outside the home as she has always done to help with finances.

Her daughter, Katie helped me honor her mom this year. Katie donated money and even purchased gifts during the fundraiser. Katie is a nurse and has seen good and bad care givers. She feels her mother is the role model of how every caregiver should be. Lately though, Katie notices her mother’s exhaustion and it breaks her heart.

All three of Sam and Lori’s children live close and take turns caring for their dad so that Lori can run errands or just have a few hours to regroup. They help cut Sam’s hair, take him out to eat, and just plain love him as much as they possibly can.

Sam and Lori’s love stories is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever witnessed because true love is caring for someone you love through thick and thin, better for worse.

This isn’t the first time that Lori has cared for a loved one. Her son was diagnosed with bladder cancer at 23. Lori was there for him through it all. He is now  in remission.

My grandmother had early onset Alzheimer’s. My grandfather took care of her every day for twelve years. He fed her all her meals, kept her home with him as long as he could and only left her side for a few hours a day. I know what it is like to see this kind of love first hand and to watch someone you love lose who they are a little more each day. Heartbreaking is too kind a word.

Lori not only do your kids think you are a hero, but I do, too. You are an amazing woman living the unthinkable day in and day out with courage, strength, and grace. I think of your family every day and you all hold a special place in my heart.

Cheer Day 25

Know that we are praying with you and loving you with each step you take.

God bless your sweet soul,

The Cheer Squad