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

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…

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Until next time,

Michelle

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

Humble & Kind

Humble & Kind

Tonight our family went to the local elementary school talent show. My daughter was singing Tim McGraw’s Humble & Kind.

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This show was something so special. There were acts with kids dancing, singing, playing the guitar, clarinet, piano, recorder and trumpet. One child solved the rubik’s cube in 56 seconds. There were classes that performed together and courageous little’s who stood and faced the crowd alone. Children hula hooped and showcased gymnastic talents. There was even an impressive improv act that stole the show. Alumni including adults stopped the show with a quick flash mob! There was just a little bit of everything.

One of the other uber cool things about our local school is that the tech crew, complete with sound, lights, and back stage crews is all student led. It is phenomenal. All trained by an amazing woman who runs the theater arts program. Who takes no credit and gives students the ability to shine both in front of and behind the stage.

Not at all what you might expect from a school amidst farmland and across the street from a field filled with goats.

But inside there was something you would expect from humble surroundings; it was what left me in awe throughout the show.

What left me in awe? It was not only that these sweet, innocent performers had the courage to stand up before their community, friends, family and peers to bare their talent, but they way it was received. No matter what the talent was the students would cheer each other on. If a name was mispronounced; other students corrected the MC who was a local junior high student volunteering their Friday night to host. If someone couldn’t be heard the tech crew rushed mics over trying to be inconspicuous as not to disrupt the performer. Acts were able to start over if they stumbled. If someone got nervous the crowd roared in cheers of support. Young children without the aid of a parent or other adult sought out a performer to tell them what a great job they did. There were hugs, high fives, and smiles between all the children.

This school community is something rare and special. A place I cherish. A place filled with an amazing group of educators and parents who have built a community filled with kids who truly care about each other. No wonder there were so many children ready to perform. They knew they were in a safe place filled with people who truly cared about them.

Our little country school with its amazing talented children is most beautiful because it is filled with students who are humble and kind.

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Lucky Socks

Lucky Socks

Today I am wearing my lucky socks one last time.

I love these socks, despite the hole that has appeared in my left heel and I think they deserve to be worn one last time.

These socks have been around for the birth of 3 of my 4 children. They still fit! Not something that can be said about very many other things in my closet. They have seen me through sleepless nights, presentations, late night writing sessions, my first reading, parties, and just ice cream nights on the sofa. They are my go to superstitious, Irish girl socks.

When I think about these socks I think about how I pull them on in the hopes that things will go well; that the chips will land in my favor. Maybe even that there are such things as miracles and pots of gold. That anything is possible. My idealistic heart beats a little brighter.

That is kind of how I approach the day. Right or wrong, I don’t know. My dad always tells me to walk in like I belong there. That it is confidence that people follow and are attracted to. There is truth in that for sure. I see it all over. Day in and day out. People follow others who behave as if they know what they are doing. People gravitate to far less secure people than myself because they are boisterous with confidence and charm. The confidence is so bright it seems to attract people like moths to a flame despite what might be underneath it. It always bothers me how people are so easily attracted to fake light, but they are none the less.

I guess I like to go out with my armor down lately. I find more comfort in what is real and raw. I know that leaves me as somewhat of an outsider at times; okay I feel like an outsider all the time.

I saw this from Humans of New York on FB this week and it struck me.

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www.facebook.com/humansofnewyork

 

This was so moving to me. It made so much sense and I think that it encapsulated the way I am facing things with my own life these days. I show up; maybe forgetful, quiet, timid, reserved, big-hearted, extra feely, overweight, underdressed at times, hurried, rushed, abrupt, not always present, but I show up and give it a go ready to learn and grow. Always with the feeling that I don’t belong and have so much to learn.

People are glamming themselves up these days. Whether it is in their facebook feeds, their make-up, or how they portray who they are, but the truth of the matter is a lot of us aren’t being our true selves when we go out. Or some of us are falling into a trap of hiding behind a cause, mentality or blame game that makes it less about us and more about “them”. Even though there is no them – it is always us, always. I think most of us know the jig is up, but there are quite a few these days that have worn their masks and been in hiding so long that they are starting to believe their own rouse.

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Me – with my make-up mask, best feeling self to go out into the world.

This is a parody of how many pictures I had to take to get a good picture of myself – see that may be how many tries we have to have or more to get something so we feel like it might be just right or at least close enough.

My husband is good at everything. He helps without question, pitches in, works hard, makes friends easily, is well respected, funny, kind, athletic, strong, can play any game, do any handy task, is up to date on current events, speaks intelligently, is knowledgable, seems to pick up new things easily and well next to him I often feel like I just don’t add up. We were talking about it today and it hit me that, that is more than okay. That is what I want people to see. I want to be anything but perfect and I want my own vulnerability to be a beacon for others to feel they can share theirs to.

What makes us different, flawed, unique and interesting is exactly what makes us humand and being human is what makes us the same. That is the common dominator. And in a world where it feels like differences are being persecuted and people are wearing their hate on the outside, wouldn’t it be nice if people started walking around wearing insecurity and vulnerability on the outside – open and ready to learn from one another. Welcoming each other for who we are instead of how we might be perceived to be.

Because look at the beauty that can be found in moments just as they are; no posing or filters…

Happy, little, blissful, real, raw moments.

So today I have my lucky, hole-y /holy socks on. Today I approach the world ready to learn, vulnerable, wearing my insecurities on the outside. I will walk in with my heart and my perspective open wide because there is so much to learn. I have so much growing to do.

Keep learning, keep growing, keep showing up and breathe,

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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.

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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 20: Strength

First let me introduce you to Jane and Hilda. Jane nominated Hilda for Holiday Cheer this year. Jane and Hilda are great friends and definitely teaching BFFs. If you aren’t clear on what that is exactly, this Buzz Feed post here will help you out.

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They have been friends for years, taking trips, teaching together and many other adventures.

This past year has been a difficult one for Hilda, to say the least. Her sister passed away and then her partner, Rodney fell ill. He was in and out of the hospital and Hilda cared for him until he passed in May. They had only recently finished renovating the home they purchased together when he became so ill he had to be hospitalized.

Jane sat with Hilda the night that Rodney passed. Staying with her until late into the evening or early morning depending on how you look at it. Only to be texted a short time after she finally went home to catch a little shut eye that he had in fact passed peacefully.

Hilda is an amazing educator, a wonderful mother and grandmother and the best friend anyone could ask for. She is the first one on your doorstep to help when you are going through a difficult time or you just need some extra hands to complete a project. She always has time to listen to your troubles and will always offer a shoulder to cry on, but she helps lift your spirits and you can’t be sad around her for long. Her positivity is absolutely contagious. Nothing stops her from achieving what she wants to do in life.

Even though this year was filled with much sadness, Hilda forged ahead and has continued teaching in the Evergreen School District. She continues to hike, travel and spend time with her friends.

Thank you Holiday Elves and Gina Guglielmo for donating to Hilda’s gift and helping offer her some cheer and support during the holidays. You were able to provide Hilda with a beautiful wine basket from Guglielmo Winery with a complimentary tasting for two and a Spa Gift Certificate.

Best wishes to Hilda,

Michelle and the Holiday Cheer Elves

 

 

Day 18: Raya Sunshine

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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

Day 16: The Artist

Life is its own protection from death – Aliza Hubbs

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Aliza, the artist, is today’s recipient. Aliza is a warrior, a true survivor. But more importantly she is a wife, friend, sister, daughter, mother.

I met Aliza in junior high. She was always kind, generous, and lived with such an open heart.

She and I had mutual friends and this year at holiday cheer time our friend Shaleen mentioned to me what Aliza had been through the past year. She had 6 surgeries all while fighting breast cancer, all while being a mom to a young child. I knew she was a perfect candidate for holiday cheer.

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Aliza is an amazing, caring, compassionate, beautiful soul. I am in awe of her strength and courage as she chronicled some of her journey on her Facebook page. She was raw, honest and authentic as she shared her trials, pain, and gratefulness for life.

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I wanted to share Aliza’s thank you card with all of you so that you could see that you do make a difference. Thank you to those that contributed to Holiday Cheer and helping spread goodness this holiday season.

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Sincerely,

Michelle

Day 14: She is the perfect combination of Princess and Warrior

 

I am so excited to introduce you all to Elayna. She is absolutely radiant! I first came into contact with Elayna and her mom, Lucy while our family was fluttering in September for Unravel. (If you haven’t heard about Unravel yet is an organization that was founded to help raise funds for pediatric cancer research and you can learn more here). Elayna is a cancer survivor and she wanted to be a part of the Unravel Fluttering Campaign to help children like her. Her mom shared pictures and videos via a group on FB and well…we all just got to know her so well. Her vibrant, energetic passion and love of life was contagious to say the least. I mean just look at this kid!

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At 6 she has already beat kidney cancer and was 9 months into remission when I “met” her via the Unravel Fluttering Facebook Group. What happened next was heartbreaking. This princess warrior was diagnosed with lung cancer. Elayna and her family are once again fighting a battle against cancer.

There are two fundraising pages for Elayna in case you are interested in helping her and her family since I know many of you have asked how you can help more:

Her new gofundme page is at: https://www.gofundme.com/Elayna

Her original youcaring page (which is still set up and working!) is at:https://www.youcaring.com/medi…/let-s-go-team-elayna-/171690

elayna with pic

What was amazing was that a pair of donors came forward that wanted to get Elayna an American Girl doll. Not only did they get her a doll they also purchased matching pjs for her and the doll, the movie, book and accessories for the doll. I was in awe of their generosity. We also had someone hand make a scarf and matching hat for Elayna.

Elayna’s mom Lucy had this to say about the gift once it was delivered,

“This girl is so loved. Thank you so much for caring enough about her fight and her path to want to send her some joy like this. I looooove the frame picture. And the hat and scarf are sure to be favorites right away. 💕 Elayna has never had a “real” doll before and it was hilarious to see that she didn’t know what you did with one at first when she unwrapped Kit. When I explained all the things you could do with her (and that she came with a story and all) she said ‘Can you even put pjs on them?’ And I said, ‘I’m sure we can get pjs someday for her.’ Then she couldn’t stop smiling and giggling when she opened the pajamas next. Ha! Please thank everyone who was involved in Elayna’s gifts. We are so touched by the generous spirit.”

Thank you so much, Holiday Cheer Elves: Bella, Kim and Rebecca for bringing a smile to Elayna’s face.
All of the Holiday Cheer Elves are praying and cheering for Team Elayna.
Sincerely,
The Holiday Cheer Elves

Day 13: The difference a teacher can make

IMG_3317I know it is way past Christmas and I am just writing Day 13 and I hope our recipient will forgive me and the recipients after for that matter for the tardiness of these posts.

Day 13 belongs to a person who does what she does each and every day to the best of her ability without want or need for a thank you. She is a teacher. She teaches third grade at a local elementary school.

Mrs. Gamm is quiet, reserved and hard working. She truly hopes to impart knowledge and knowledge finding skills to her students, but what I find most impressive is that she still believes that the classroom is a place where you teach citizenship, kindness, manners and compassion. She believes that it is part of the curriculum to teach her students life skills.

While she is a stickler for grammar, neatness and a good work ethic from her students she also assigns a Random Act of Kindness as a homework assignment weekly. This can be something small or big; it is up to the student, but they are required to find ways to be helpful at home and in the community because that is what good citizens do.

She always has time to talk or work with students after school and makes sure to include families in all of the class events. Her work is her passion.

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Handmade card by DeAnna.

When I met Mrs. Gamm three years ago, I was quickly put at ease by her down to earth manner and authenticity. She is such a true and genuine soul. It was such an honor to be able to deliver her gift.

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Scarf, lotions, Starbucks and Barnes and Noble gift cards.

She was so surprised that she was nominated. She could not believe that she was a recipient. I told her that is what Holiday Cheer is about. It is about taking time to make sure that people who are just being themselves, doing what they do every day, know that they make an extraordinary difference in the lives of others. That they truly are spectacular just being who they are.

Thank you, Mrs. Gamm for the difference you make each year for so many. Our world is a better place because of what you do each and every day.

Sincerely,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Day 12: Helping Single Mamas is our Game

Day 12: Helping Single Mamas is our Game

Good morning sweet readers,

I am sure you know it is Christmas Eve and that I am only writing Day 12. Well let’s just say that the spirit of Christmas will get to live on in this blog until after it passes. I will write about each and every delivery, I assure you.

Right now let’s turn our focus to day 12’s recipient. She was nominated by Jacinda. Stacy is a special needs teacher for Gilroy Unified School District who also happens to be a single mom. She has been working hard to help her children and herself have a stable life. The last few years have not been easy to say the least.

But they had great news this month and were finally able to move into a home on December 15th. We wanted to add to that good cheer by bringing them some extra goodies for their family.

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Because of all of you we were able to deliver toys, gift cards, and a beautiful handmade sign. This wouldn’t be possible without all of you.

Stacy is the good in the world and so are you. Bringing you all together to spread kindness and cheer is really what this season is all about. I wish you a very Merry Christmas today and thank you from the bottom of my heart that you were able to deliver this holiday cheer to Stacy and her family.

Happy Holidays,

The Holiday Cheer Elves

 

Day 11: Sweet little family

Day 11: Sweet little family

Day 11 belongs to a sweet little family of one mama doing everything all on her own and two sweet boys. This single mama is beyond amazing and has the strength of a warrior, but then again all single mamas do. But, this single mama is also helping one of her sons battle Leukemia. It has become difficult for her to work as she is busy taking her son to all of his treatments. So this year her friend, Lindsay, wrote to me to see if we could send something to her to let her know that there are people praying for her and her sweet little family.

You all really delivered for our families in need in this year. For Michelle and her boys we were able to supply Minecraft Legos and shirts for both boys. They also received two books each. With your donations we were able to send Michelle Vons gift cards to help with groceries, a gas gift card, a Spa Finder gift card, and a Target gift card. Hopefully our donations were able to make the month of December a tad bit easier and joyful for her and her family.

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Michelle, our warrior mama, we send you prayers and strength to help you as you battle for your son. You are an everyday hero and we hope that our little gift made your December just a tad bit cheerier.

Sincerely,

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