My 12 gifts to you on Christmas Eve.

 

Christmas has not always been a happy time for me.

As a single mother this holiday usually just meant “FINANCIAL STRESS”.

There have been years that I completely lost sight of the true meaning of Christmas.

I was so buried in my own self pity, that I was unable to even feel any JOY at all.

There were several times that I literally had no idea how I was going to provide a Christmas for my children.  In order to purchase gifts for them, I would have to use the money I had set aside for bills to buy them any gifts.

This was a hard decision for me to make because I knew that if I didn’t pay the bills, it was going to take me several months to catch back up.

But, for me, the sacrifice was worth the excitement of my children waking up to special gifts on Christmas morning.

But…

It always seemed that when I was at my lowest point, and had no hope of pulling a Christmas off for the kids, We would hear a knock at our door and open it to find our porch clear full of gifts.

The kindness of the people in my small community would once again remind me what this season is REALLY about.

It is not about the gifts we GET, but the Gifts we GIVE

Their kindness taught me that: The best way to give to others is not with presents – but with your presence.

The simple fact that they were aware of my plight, despite the fact that I guarded that secret with my life, made all the difference to me at that time.

Being aware, and then following up that awareness with action is  truly your gift to others!

This year, I can finally pay back that kindness.

I am finally in a position to GIVE to a needy family this year.

It has been so much fun shopping and planning this night out.

Tonight my kids and I are going with some special friends who have been  our “CO-CONSPIRATORS” to deliver Christmas to a special family.

I am so excited for my kids to see what it feels like to share gifts with others tonight.

This whole thing has got me thinking about the gifts that we share with each other every day, not just during the Holidays.

And it occurred to me that the more we give to others the happier we become.

It can be as simple as a smile,

a helping hand,

a listening ear

or a prayer.

These little things can change a person’s entire life.

During those years I lived as a single mom, I have come to KNOW on a very deep level that there is always good even in what seems like the worst situation.

That knowledge might not necessarily change the way you feel in the moment, but it will eventually be understood.

You can find comfort in the fact that one day, that difficult moment will be the reason you are where you are.

I thank the Lord each and every day for my trials because they gave me the ability to truly appreciate Jeff and the blessing he is to our family.

They have given me the ability to SEE just how blessed we are to be where we are in life right now.

I am a much wiser woman today because of my trials from yesterday.

Here are a few of the little bits of wisdom I have picked up along the way that I want to share with you tonight.

#1: Ten years ago I believed that a messy house meant that I was a failure.

But now, I just understand that it simply means that I choose to  enjoy my family and live my life.

Besides…The mess will always be there tomorrow.

 

#2: I want to tell each of you to stop being so hard on yourself;

BECAUSE…you are right where you’re supposed to be!

Allow yourself to continue to grow at our own pace.

Give yourself a break- Life is not a race or a competition.

 

#3: Don’t listen to what other people say.

People judge to make themselves feel better.

 

#4: Think before you speak and you’ll find that you choose your words wisely.

#5: If the most important thing to you is money or material objects, then you’re missing out on so much of what is important in life.

#6: Love is more than an emotion.

It’s a choice that requires work.

When you choose to love you are making the choice to put others before yourself.

This isn’t always easy but it always worth it.

 

#7: Failure shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Giving up should never be an option.

A simple readjustment of your plan or your attitude can make the difference.

 

#8: Never listen to what others say about your dreams.

Your dreams and aspirations are yours alone and given to you as a gift.

 

#9: Don’t allow fear to make your decisions.

Pushing through that fear can offer you a life changing experience.

 

#10: Things don’t always happen the way that we expect them to, but this doesn’t mean that it’s not what we need.

 

#11: Never expect more than what you have, and you’ll find happiness with it.

If you are always looking for more you’ll never enjoy anything.

 

#12: The past doesn’t define you; it is however the reason you are who you are.

Embrace yourself, forgive yourself and be thankful you are stronger and wiser because of it all.

BONUS LESSON: Go out of your way daily to show your family that you love them.

It takes work to show your love and life is too short.

These are my gifts to you tonight on this Special night when we celebrate the greatest birth in all of humanity. 

The birth of our Savior. 

Tonight, be a light for all who you may see.

God Bless, and Merry Christmas!

 

 

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Tis the season to celebrate Our Leaps of Faith.

As the end of the year 2015 draws nearer, we naturally begin to ponder our lives.

Digits of new year 2015 with small dartboard on white background

 

We start to reflect on the changes we made, both good and bad over the past 12 months.

Were we productive?

Were we happy?

Did we make a difference?

As I look back over this year, the thing that strikes me the most is the number of the small leaps of faith I have taken throughout this year.

Those small leaps have led to HUGE changes in my life.

As I sat and took a long hard look back over this past year, the one emotion that kept coming up over and over again was: GRATITUDE!

AS THE YEAR 2015 COMES TO IT’S CONCLUSION…

I can only feel BLESSED.

blessed

 

 

 

If you want proof of God’s hand in your life…

Then each and every time you choose to trust Him and take little leaps of faith, He will reveal Himself to you in powerful ways.

 

So with that in mind…
I want to ask you a question:
When was the last time you took a leap of faith?

I mean a real leap of faith.

The kind of leap that makes every single cell in your body sing.
When you have taken that leap the entire world seems as if it is applauding you with little bread crumb trails of generously sprinkled signs that let you know that you are in fact on the right track.

These little clues from God almost make you want to:

Weep with gratitude,

Vibrate with fear,

And explode with the joy of being you

All simultaneously!

child-20clip-20art-Happy-Kids-clipart

 

 

You suddenly realize that you are feeling more alive than you have ever, ever felt.
It’s as if you KNOW that on this day, (because of that leap you took) – your game changed forever. 

You know you are irrevocably changed because you trusted in that inner voice that speaks to us all through our clumsy, provocative, raw human glory.

One of the most valuable things you can learn in life is to listen to that voice because it literally has the power to change your game and create a new future for yourself.

Most of us were never really taught what a leap of faith even means.

Or how to do it.

 

I can’t help but notice that the people that take leaps of faith  are often the ones who courageously stepped outside of the conventional, and by doing so…recreated the world we live in.

They are the change makers.

The ones who see the future, and recreate the future, for all of us.

And they are the ones who have lives that are really and truly worth living.

Sometimes they make headlines.

Wayne Dyer spent most of his early childhood in an orphanage after his father left his mom with three boys to raise alone. He went on from that horrible beginning to write over 40 self-help books and become know world wide as one of the foremost experts in the self-help industry.

 

Maya Angelou, who had been born to poverty and abuse, worked as a fry cook, a prostitute, and a nightclub dancer – somehow found the courage to write her first book, then many more, and ended up being honored by reading a poem at Obama’s inauguration and earning 50 honorary degrees in her lifetime.

And sometimes they quietly change their own little piece of the world, and we all benefit.

mom

(This is my mom and my daughter and nephew)
We sometimes unknowingly benefit from all of these unknown but miraculous people who make tiny incremental leaps of faith towards love.
Or creative expression.
Or standing for what they know is right in the face of dissension.
 

Becoming a turned on,

tuned in,

self-respecting,

fully embodied human being is not a given. 

Nor is it a simple task.
It requires reflection.

Tapping into one’s truth.

Speaking out.

Taking risk.

Standing in your truth…despite the obstacles.

BUT…

Just like all aspects of figuring out how to be human in the best possible way, a leap of faith is not something you should do just once in your life.

It’s actually something you can get rather good at.

Once you have jumped once, you can jump again and again, bigger and bolder with every go.

A leap of faith requires practice.

Most of us are taught to have faith in something outside of ourselves.

We’re encouraged to put all of our confidence or trust in something or someone else.

Our parents,

our husband,

our boss.

A political party.

We’re taught to believe that if you go to a good college and get a degree, you can get a job.

Or if you follow all the doctrines of your church, your life will be worth more.

Or if you play by the rules in your corporate job, you will have career advancement and be able to retire at 65 with a pension.

This kind of ‘faith’ is not often the kind that brings a person further and deeper inside their love affair with life.

 

Following my second divorce, I chose a different kind of faith.

I decided that rather than shrink myself to follow the limitations that I had been living under I was going to  take my first leap of faith.
Which for me was self imposed solitude to heal.

I am a very social person, so choosing solitude was no walk in the park for me. It was probably one of the most difficult decision I have ever made.

But choosing to choose myself, above anyone else’s expectations for me, was my first leap.
How was I supposed to believe in myself when I had no track record?
How was I supposed to believe in myself when no one else did – in fact everyone else seemed convinced that the last place that I should look for my next steps was inside my own heart and soul?
How could I leap when I was not seeing very many women making the choice to choose themselves over the expectations of others?

I had to realize that a leap of faith was a requirement for me if I was ever going to learn how to truly live out my destiny.
It allowed me the space to choose my own version of aliveness and to begin to see how I was going to leave my own mark on the world.

I love what Elizabeth Gilbert says in her wonderful book, Big Magic,

Too many women still seem to believe that they are not allowed to put themselves forward at all, until both they and their work are perfect and beyond criticism. Meanwhile, putting forth work that is far from perfect rarely stops men from participating in the global cultural conversation. Just sayin’ . . . sometimes, strangely enough, it works – a man who seems not ready for the task, not good enough for the task, somehow grows immediately into his potential through the wild leap of faith itself. I only wish more women would risk these same kinds of wild leaps.

She goes on to cite the way we have been treated in all of human history as the reason that women do not take big risks, like men. And concludes, “…we women must break this habit in ourselves – and we are the only ones who can break it.”

She is right; we must break this habit.

We need to have the courage to develop new ones.

A new habit that will allow us to taking our place on the world’s stage and as a vibrant, fully expressed author of our own lives.

We can do this.
In fact, we must do this.

The true nature of humanity does not ignite until we learn how to make our deepest desires our TRUE NORTH. 

But just like any navigational system we will often find ourselves slightly off course but I want to encourage you to keep taking those teeny awkward leaps, in the direction of your dreams.

Leaps of faith do not have to be so graceful.

The important thing is to just jump, vault, or skip.

A little.

Bit by bit.

Even a hop of faith is awesome.


We will gain momentum, and confidence, with each step taken.

 

Instead of counting on one another to compromise, let’s count on one another to leap, with faith, in the direction of our dreams.

If even a few of us would be willing to set the example we just might start a fire that spreads in the hearts of millions.

Our Christmas Decorations for 2015

My oldest son Tyler and I love to decorate our house every year for Christmas.

Each Year we try to out-do ourselves.

We don’t compete with anyone but ourselves.

We do it just for the fun time we have together designing and then creating a “ONE OF A KIND” display for our house.

So this year, we decided to create a fun Ginger Bread House display.

We called our yard Candy Cane Lane, and centered our ideas around that theme.

We hope that you will enjoy the pictures of our 2015 Christmas Display.

 

 

xmas house candy cane lane

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Sign that I found at our local Magnuson Lumber  was the inspiration piece that everything else was created around.

If we were going to have a “Candy Cane Lane, we needed to line our walkway with candy cane lights.

(These are so fun at night when they light up.)

 

 

So now that the side windows were decorated, I needed to do something fun with the three big windows on the other side of the porch.

So here is what we came up with.

So now that the windows were done, we needed to decorate the front door.

For this, I found some candy striped wrapping paper and just wrapped the front door in it and added ribbons and a bow and a little tag to mimic a gift.

xmas house front door

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The last thing that needed to be decorated was the lawn out in front of the house.

I made three little gingerbread people and some large starlight mint candies to go go on either side of our Candy Cane Lane Post.

The last thing we did was to add seven starlight mint candies to the pitch detail on the front of the house and lined the window wells with sugar coated gumdrops.

We then hung over 1,000 lights on the house to illuminate all the decorations.

xmas house candy circles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We hope that all those who drive by will feel the Holiday Spirit that we tried hard to bring to our street.

We love decorating for the holiday and I hope that you enjoy the pictures.

 

 

 

 

Mathematical Formula Reveals the secret to lasting relationships…

Today’s post is not written by me, I came across this in my email this morning and it was so closely related to the post I wrote yesterday about avoiding criticism in my marriage that I had to re-post and share it with you.

I hope you find it as interesting as i did.

Here is the article:

A mathematical formula reveals the secret to lasting relationships.

Mathematics of Love infinityThe Mathematics of LoveIllustration by Christine Rösch for “The Mathematics of Love” published by TEDBooks.

If you’re fortunate enough to find someone you want to settle down with forever, the next question is: How do you achieve happily ever after?According to mathematician Hannah Fry, it may come down to a simple formula.

Fry, who works at the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis in London, explains in her 2014 TED Talk and recently released book, “The Mathematics of Love,” that the best predictor of long-lasting relationships is how positive and negative a couple can be to one another.

In her book, she discusses the groundbreaking work of psychologist John Gottman and his team. Over many years they observed hundreds of couples and noted their facial expressions, heart rates, blood pressure, skin conductivity, and the words they used in conversation with their partners.

They discovered low-risk couples have more positive interactions with each other, and high-risk couples tend to spiral into negativity.

Mathematics of Love TED TalkTED/The Mathematics of Love

As Fry puts it, “In relationships where both partners consider themselves as happy, bad behavior is dismissed as unusual.” For example, a wife might assume her husband’s grumpiness is due to stress at work or a bad night’s sleep.

“In negative relationships, however, the situation is reversed,” writes Fry. “Bad behavior is considered the norm.” A husband, for instance, might think his wife’s grumpiness is “typical,” due to her “selfishness” or other negative personality trait.

Gottman then teamed up with mathematician James Murray, and they began to understand how these spirals of negativity happen. They came up with the below equations, which predict how positive or negative a husband and wife will be at the next point in their conversation.

As Fry explains, the model is framed as husband and wife but also applies to same-sex spouses and unmarried couples in long-term relationships.

Mathematics of Love long-lasting formulaTED/The Mathematics of Love

The wife’s equation is the top line, the husband’s the bottom, and it solves for how positive or negative the next thing they say will be.

In hers, w stands for her mood in general, rwWt represents her mood when she’s with her husband, and IHW shows how the husband’s actions influence her. The husband’s follows the same pattern.

Mathematics of Love formulasTED/Mathematics of Love

Gottman and Murray found that the influence a couple has on each other is the most important factor. If a husband says something positive, like agrees with his wife or makes a joke, the wife will likely react positively in turn. Meanwhile, if he does something negative, like interrupts her or dismisses something she’s said, she will likely be negatively impacted.

The “negativity threshold” pinpoints when the wife becomes so frustrated by her husband that she responds very negatively.

Interestingly, Fry says she would have imagined that the best relationships would have a high negativity threshold, meaning they’d be focused on compromise and would bring up an issue only if it was “a really big deal.” But in fact, the opposite is true.

“The most successful relationships are the ones with a really low negativity threshold,” writes Fry. “In those relationships, couples allow each other to complain, and work together to constantly repair the tiny issues between them. In such a case, couples don’t bottle up their feelings, and little things don’t end up being blown completely out of proportion.”

Happy couples, then, tend to have more positive interactions than negative ones, and thus are more likely to give each other the benefit of a doubt. When there is an issue, they’re more likely to bring it up quickly, fix it, and move on.

“Mathematics leaves us with a positive message for our relationships,” Fry says, “reinforcing the age-old wisdom that you really shouldn’t let the sun go down on your anger.”

Sounds Impossible…I agree!

Pain in our bodies is usually there to tell us something.

It’s a messenger.

*If your ankle hurts after a fall, you’ve likely sprained it.

*Chronic heartburn could be an indication of a hernia.

*A migraine after a long day might be the result of tension.

You could pop an Advil for the ankle or the headache.

You could take some Mylanta for the sour stomach.

And you’d probably get some immediate relief.

But you’d only be addressing the symptoms.

 

Unless you treat the root cause (get off the ankle, fix the hernia, or lower your stress levels),

You’ll more than likely just keep on experiencing the same pain.

Not only that, but the pain can escalate in intensity.

Emotional pain in our hearts – and the way we often respond to it – works the same way.

For years, I treated the symptoms of my emotional turmoil, but never really took the time to treat the underlying symptoms.

Especially when it came to my romantic life.

Following my second divorce, I decided to take a break from romance COMPLETELY and get myself healthy once and for all.

Back then the goal I set for myself was to simply to not date at all until I could get completely out of debt.

Back then I set that goal in the belief that if I was debt free then  when I was looking for a life partner I would be looking for someone I wanted, rather than someone I thought could help me with my finances…

I was way off base in what I thought back then would keep me from attracting another “BUM”…

BUT

The fact that I refused to date at all and just gave myself some time to heal was SPOT ON!

During that time of isolation I learned a few valuable things about relationships,

Both from the mistakes I had made in both of my marriages,

And also by watching closely couples that I encountered on a regular basis.

Here is what I learned:

Criticism in any form is deadly to any relationship!

How Does Criticism Destroy Relationships?

Criticism leads to distance, because partners will close themselves off in order to avoid more criticism.

And when there’s distance, lack of connection follows.

A lack of connection will always lead to a loss of intimacy – both emotional and physical.

And once the intimacy is lost, the marriage begins to rot and decay.

I saw this pattern over and over, both in my own life, and in the lives of my friends.

It’s a dangerous cycle, and all too many couples don’t realize they’re in it until it’s too late and all the intimacy has been lost.

It would break my heart when I would see my friends and their partners finding themselves in a completely disconnected relationship – living like strangers.

And it was especially devastating to me when they would start the process to end the marriage completely.

So… when Jeff and I first started talking about marriage, I shared my insights on criticism with him.

I told him how I had noticed how even the  “so called harmless criticism” seemed to erode relationships.

We had a long talk and decided that we didn’t ever want that to happen to us.

We decided right then and there that we were going be very aware of how our words and actions made the other person feel.

We committed to taking care of each others hearts as if they were a priceless gem that could never be replaced.

We knew we didn’t want blame and criticism to run our marriage, let alone ruin it.

So we thought long and hard about what we were going to do, and then it came:

I asked Jeff one night…

“What if we could invent a relationship that ran entirely on positive energy?”

What if we could eliminate blame and criticism?

Jeff then suggested that we agree to NEVER work on our “RELATIONSHIP” instead we would always just work on ourselves.

Because that way each day we would then be able to offer the very BEST version of ourselves to each other.

We would be accountable for ourselves and not blame the other for any unhappiness or insecurity we were feeling.

Sounds impossible…

But we have now been together for over 2 yrs, and have still never had a fight.

Not even a little one.

We bring our concerns to each other and work on them together, as a team.

We have blended a family,

Purchased a home,

And successfully manage two full time jobs, a business, and a farm together.

Our lives are crazy.

Our lives demand a lot from both of us.

But at the end of the day, we know that we are loved and supported by our relationship, and that makes it all worth it in the end.

 

It wasn’t easy at first.

But together, we made it our commitment – sticking with it, and developing tools along the way to make sure we didn’t get off track.

About three years later, we are able to switch to these tools immediately, even when things start to get tense between us.

We have found that when you work together,

take responsibility for yourself,

and love each other unconditionally,

it is VERY possible to live together in a loving, peaceful, passionate marriage.

But first you have to address your emotional pain, and treat the underlying problems, not just the symptoms.

You have to be ready to bring the very BEST version of yourself to the relationship each and every day…NO Matter What!

 

Doing the internal work to heal your emotional pain is not an easy task, but the payoff in the End is worth it…

 

Brutal Honesty is SWEETER than sugar coated Lies

“The mystery and magic of being an individual is to live life in response to the deep call within – the call to become who we were dreamed to be.”

These words by Irish poet John O’Donohue capture the quest many of us are on.

One thing that I think is true for all of us is the fact that regardless of our age, race, or gender we’ve ALL fantasized about having “super powers” of some kind…

 

For example, think about the many popular books and movies about superheroes, wizards, mutants and people with psychic powers…

You can’t turn on your television without seeing a preview for some show featuring a person who has supernatural abilities of some kind.

We have made those authors and speakers who teach about manifestation into super stars. We envy and celebrate them because they seem to have mastered the art of “manifestation”…

 

Why are we so fascinated by these kinds of characters?

 

It’s because they have the abilities we all wish we had?

Or is it perhaps that we know we possess similar skills that are lying dormant buried deep inside of us, but require awakening and/or further development?

I think our fascination comes from the fact that these characters reflect our core desire to become the BEST,  most skillful and POWERFUL human beings we can be.

Now:

I bet that in your heart of hearts you know that you have a great life to live…

AND

Even a meaningful contribution to make in the world.

We all have…

And only through discovering and bringing to life this hidden potential will we be able to find true spiritual fulfillment and the deeper sense of happiness we’re longing for.

But it takes work and dedication to bring that kind of potential to life.

So why are some people able to do that, while others suffer through life never once finding the happiness or purpose they are craving?

Here is the short answer:

You are not a result of your circumstances,

You are a result of your choices.

Now here is the long, and often difficult answer:

It is not the experiences you are presented with in life that define you.

It is the way in which you handle them that eventually will define who you are.

The real test in life is NOT the trials but how you grow from them.

It not the fact that you have faced difficulties in your life, but instead it is who you become while facing them.

sO LET ME SAY THIS ONE MORE TIME:

You are NOT a result of your circumstances, you are a result of your choices.

Let me put it to you this way:

In every moment you have the choice to be an inspirational person


In every moment you have the choice to behave like your most remarkable self…


In every moment you have the choice to listen deeply to your heart…


In every moment you get the choice to empower yourself.


In every moment you have the opportunity to create your ideal future…


In every moment you have the chance to truly engage deeply with the world…


Every single moment you are alive you have the choice to say “YES” to life…


In every moment you choose to embody your potential.

This is it.

It is really that simple.

And Yet the world is clear full of people who REFUSE to take responsibility for their life and the experiences that they are having.

They insist on blaming anyone that crosses their path for the problems that they are having.

When the only person who REALLY has any power to influence or change their situation is themselves.

Because think about it…

You are either inspirational…

or

you’re not.

You are either fully engaging with your life

or

you’re not.

You are either driven by the energy of love

or

you’re not.

 

You are either following your passions

or

you’re not.

You are either consciously creating your 

future

or

you’re not.

 

You get to make these same choices everyday.

So, I am going to ask you…

What do you choose?

I am going to place the responsibility for your life and your experiences RIGHT SQUARE in YOUR lap where it belongs.

Try to Start taking just two small seconds to pause before you do things and ask yourself questions like these and see if this shift in your behavior doesn’t change EVERYTHING about your life experience.

What are you choosing when you…..

Engage in drama or gossip?

When you waste precious hours scrolling through the endless feeds of social media?

 

How often do you zone out in front of the television?

Why are you choosing to stay in that relationship that’s only bringing you pain?

 

These are all choices.

YOUR Choices!

And, whether consciously or not, you are the only one who has the opportunity to choose for yourself in every moment.
It’s those internal choices you make that inevitably create your external reality.

What if, instead, you were to…..

Make the choice to be:

Inspirational.

Committed.

Revolutionize the way you love.

Follow your heart.

Say yes to your passions.

Embrace your remarkable future.

What if those choices changed your life?

When I took responsibility for my INTERNAL life, my EXTERNAL life began to reflect that responsibility.

I no longer believed that I was a victim of my circumstances.

I took responsibility for the role I had played in my life. I went deep inside myself to examine where I had gone wrong.

Where I needed healing.

Where I needed support.

Where I needed Change.

 

 

It was NOT easy being so brutally honest with myself.

brutal honesty

 

It was nearly impossible at times to control my ego and tame it so that I could get past the pain and heal.

But It was DEFINITELY worth each and every tear I shed to get where I am today.

Today I now live a life that in the past I could only dream was possible. I follow my passions. I am safe, loved and very very content in life right now and all of that is possible for all of you too…

Because changing your life is as simple as changing your choices.

 

 

How the Grinch Collects Food For Christmas

This year at my school, the lunch ladies wanted to organize a food drive to collect food for our local Food Bank.

They want to help feed the needy people in our area.

So they asked me for help to create a focal point that would encourage the kids to participate and really donate BIG!

Our  lunch ladies thought that if they used the Grinch, it would make a big statement and really help in collecting lots of food for the Food Bank.

They have told the kids that they get to help the Grinch grow his heart even bigger this year.

 

So enjoy the pictures and watch as I turn plain old cardboard into some of the season’s most beloved characters.

 

cindy and max on cardboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Cindy Lou and Max. As you can see they began as a cardboard box, but now they are starting to take shape.

 

cindy and amx painted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here they are all painted. Cindy Lou stands 2′ 4″. and Max with his antlers is as tall as her.

 

grinch on cardboard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Grinch.

Now all he needs is some color.

grinch painted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here he is in all his glory. He stands 5′ tall.

 

grinch and crew all painted

 

 

 

 

 

Here they all are standing next to my 12 yr old. This gives you a really good idea of their size.

 

grinch sled painted

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the Grinch’s Sled. We will put this on either side of a large pallet to collect the food on.

 

grinch set up at school

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here they are all set up and as you can see, his sled is already filling up fast.

 

 

 

 

My latest Zentangle Picture

zentangle owl

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m working on making a calendar to sell to help my parents cover their medical expenses. My dad has had several medical issues lately that they cannot pay for, so this is the first picture I have created for that project.

I am going to title the calendar “Birds Of A Feather”

and all the pictures will be my hand drawn version of a bird.

I would love some input on what to charge for the calendar.

I have never attempted to do anything like this before, so any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks for all you do.

How I learned to love my Body

 

I write a lot about ways that you too can develope a positive outlook on life.

I feel that I would be missing a HUGE piece of that puzzle if I didn’t tell you about my very own BODY IMAGE ISSUES and how I have learned to accept-

And YES…

Even love my body.

 

Over the years, I have both loathed and loved my body just like every other woman on the planet has.

But, I am proud to say that I finally understand that loving my body is a much, much better way to live my life.

Recently I made a decision to love my body, not in spite of imagined flaws or ways that it deviates from the media ideal of what a body should look like, but rather because it is mine and it is perfect.

It has been with me through each and every moment of my life, and for that alone it deserves respect!

I spent decades putting my life on hold—waiting to achieve an acceptably, socially, skinny body.

I didn’t lose any weight (at least not permanently).

All I lost was a few decades.

This sad, unfortunate, reality was brought home to me in a very painful way:
When my son committed suicide and we were preparing a video for his funeral, there were no pictures of Me and Victor together because I had REFUSED to allow any pictures of me to be taken because I hated the way I looked.
I always assumed that I would lose weight and we could get a family picture done, or that I would allow some candid shots of us playing in the mountains…

but he was gone before I ever got that chance.

The regret that I feel still haunts me to this day.
I had so many opportunities to capture my life with my son in pictures, but I never did,

and now I never can!

So that regret led me to a choice.

I stopped waiting around for the perfect body and started acting as if I already had the perfect body.

Everything I dreamed that I would do when I was thin, I just went and did those things.

Sure…It made my life much scarier, but there is no risk in a life delayed—in a life not lived.

My life prior to Victor’s death was marked by sadness, regret, abuse, and fear.

Once I finally had the courage to leave my abusive marriage to Victor’s dad, and take back my power, life began to improve little by little.

BUT…

It wasn’t juicy.

It wasn’t electric.

It wasn’t faith filled.

So I made the decision to just jump into life with both of my pudgy feet.

Since then, my life has been immeasurably better.

 

I had another terrible habit I used to live with.

It was the need to know what people were thinking about me.

Image result for insecurities

 

I also spent a great deal of my life wondering about that.

It used to consume me.

It was the ONE factor that I used to determine what I wore,

how I acted,

and what events I attended.

I rarely did things that fed my own spirit…I was too busy trying to “feed” everyone else.

But at some point I realized that I didn’t really know what people were thinking about me.

I wasn’t psychic.

I was imagining in my own head what was in their heads.

So one day I decided that I might as well imagine that they think I’m totally awesome.

It’s my imagination. I might as well imagine something that makes me feel good and powerful.

I might as well imagine something that will help me be a positive force in the world.

I decided to start living according to my own desires with no regard to what others thought about my choices.

That was the TRUE beginning of my liberation.

It was through that choice that I really began to get to know myself at a deep level.

And until you know yourself, you will never be able to heal yourself!

So now let’s get back to how I learned to love my body again…

For many years, I hoped that exercise would make me look like a supermodel.

I imagined that if I could just work hard enough it would make me thin and tan, and sweat would sheen and glisten on my muscles.

Exercise did not do that for me!

And… for a while, I was really kind of mad about that.

I felt betrayed by my body,

the exercise industry,

and in a way, life in general.

But as I was getting more and more in tune with my true self, I started to notice something really cool that happened each and every time I exercised…

l I realized that exercise made me feel better.

I began to sleep better.

I was in a better mood.

I felt better about myself.

I even started to notice that I kind of felt a little sexy after I had exercised.

 

So did that transform me into an overnight exercise enthusiast?

I still don’t really love to exercise, but I exercise because I love myself.

images (5)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have decided that exercise is one of the most loving things that we can give ourselves.
It doesn’t cost anything to do it, but the rewards are beyond compare.
So I would encourage  everyBODY to at least give it a two week trial.

Exercise every day for two weeks and see for yourself if you can’t begin to notice  what is really wonderful about exercise and start to find the fun in fitness.

 

Since that day when I realized that I had no pictures of me and my son…
I have lost a total of 110 lbs.
I have gone from a size 24 to a size 10, and I feel amazing.

But that is not the best part about this story because Looking back, I can honestly say that the reason I was finally able to lose weight was because I had finally found MYSELF!

I have not joined any one specific weight loss program, or taken any “magic” pill.

I just decided to love my life.

Love my body.

And stop hiding behind excuses.

Once I did that, the weight just stopped being an issue.

(I would really love to hear your thoughts on today’s post. This is a subject that we all struggle with, and I would love to hear how you have learned to cope with your body issues.)

 

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