Monday, January 31, 2011

29 Gifts ~ The Final Six Days

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 
~ Anne Frank ~

 When I committed to doing the 29 Gifts Challenge I really underestimated the amount of effort it would take to think of things to give every day. The first few days went by smoothly and it was easy to think of things to give or to do for others. Then life got a little busier and I found myself struggling to come up with things. Sounds insane in a world that has such great need, doesn't it? I guess for me, it was not about just sending a check to all of my favorite charities, though that would have been easy enough to do. There is no minimum amount that constitutes an appropriate gift in this challenge. I was trying to be more mindful and more aware of opportunities to give that might come my way in my everyday round. What I found is that one of my personal goals for January conflicted in a way with my vision of my commitment to the 29 Gifts Challenge and I had to sort of adjust that vision in order to fulfill my commitment.

Day 23 ~Extra Play Time...I've been really busy with work projects and home projects and while our two sweet pups have been given lots of love, daily exercise, food, and you know, the necessities, we haven't taken a lot of  time to romp and play. Today though, I found a bit of extra time and it was a beautiful day outside so I found myself releasing gift #23 to the puppies in the form of extra play time. I took a couple of toys to the back yard, tossed them across the yard and praised them lavishly for bringing them back. Then we engaged in games of hide and seek, chase, and tag. I turned on the hose and let them lap up the water for as long as they wanted and them seemed to enjoy it. When we were through, I came back in the house to work, and they both, exercised and exhausted curled up in my office to take a nap. I don't doubt that it was as much fun for me as it was for them. :-)

Michael and Minnie Mouse ~ Sleepy Puppers
Today I am grateful for:
1) Two adorable pups           2) A beautiful day               3) Time to play

Day 24 ~ A Basket of Toys for the East Valley Crisis Center ~ I had this little basket sitting around my office in case children happened by and needed a distraction. I work with women and the possibility is always there, though it hasn't occurred in three years. I think it is safe to send it off to where it will be more useful.

And I am grateful for:
1) Rainbows     2) My husband     3) Work that I love

Day 25 ~ We who write blogs generally write to an audience who we hope will find some value in what we have to say. One of the ways that we know people are finding value is that we receive comments on our blog posts. I love reading your comments and I make time every day to comment on several blogs. In today's gift, I took some extra time to comment on as many blog posts as I could. There are some fabulous women writing some fabulous blogs...I sometimes wish there was more time to visit everyone everyday!

Today I am grateful for:
1) All my blogging friends     2) My computer       3) My smart phone (that allows me to twitter, fb, & blog :-)

Day 26 ~ We received our annual for tax purposes statement from United Food Bank in the mail today. Rick and I have several charitable organizations that are dear to our hearts and our local United Food Bank is among the top. Hubs talks about "the early days" when he made a single pizza or can of tuna last him for three days and we are grateful that our own pantry, fridge and freezer are full. The food bank was not on the schedule for donation this month, but after receiving the statement, I felt compelled to send off an extra donation. Perhaps the Universe is telling me something this day :-)

Today I am grateful:
1) That I always have enough food    2) A fun date night     3) Home

Day 27 ~  Mom picked up the computer we purchased earlier in the week and was needing some help setting it up so after our Saturday matinee Rick and I drove over and helped her get her up and running. It feels odd calling this a gift, but I am sure Mom sees it that way. I helped her get online, set up her email, facebook and gave her a little lesson on the workings of Windows 7. She's one happy geek wannabe and expressed an interest in taking a class at the local community college. I hope she does because I'm sure she'll enjoying getting the most out of her new toy.

Today I am grateful for:
1) Mom's delicious green chili burros     2) A fun morning with Rick     3) PF Chang's Leftovers for Dinner :-)

Day 28 ~ I shared with you on Day 26 that we had received our annual statement from United Food Bank. There were a couple of inserts with the statement, one for the Tempe Empty Bowls event and one for the Pound for Pound challenge. I can't do anything about the Empty Bowls event until the end of February, however, the Pound for Pound challenge is going on right now, and it really is a perfect gift. One of my goals for this year is to simplify and shed from my life that which I am not using. I have a few extra pounds that really are not serving me and the sponsors will donate 11 cents for every pound pledged. I only pledged 20 pounds so it doesn't add up to much, however, I am sure there are many of us who together can make a huge impact in the lives of so many. If you'd like to join me, go to It costs nothing to pledge, no weigh ins or before and after pictures. Just your support.

Today I am grateful for:
1) Blankets          2) Birds outside my window       3) An unexpected surprisingly good Sunday Matinee (The Way Back) very powerful movie

Day 29 ~ My stepson, Christopher snapped this photograph his way through Spain and Italy during a high school trip back in 2000. As a memento of his trip, Chris gave me this panoramic shot of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. He is really quite a gifted photographer and I was happy to display the photo. I found a thick glass photo frame over at the Metropolitan Museum of Art store over at Scottsdale Fashion Square. I could tell that Chris was pleased that I had taken the time to display his art in such a beautiful way...and I could tell he really liked the frame. I have looked over and over during the last 10 years and have yet to find this frame, so knowing that he loves it, I am re-gifting it to him. He has his own apartment and I'd like to provide a little encouragement for him to dream his way back to Italy...It was his favorite place :-)

Today I am grateful for:
1) Delicious hearty stew       2) Finding the puppers treats for less (saved $8 pkg.)     3) My garden

Wow! There we have it and how amazing it has been to just open myself up a little wider to see all that I can offer. Not just in big monetary ways, but in a "thinking of you," and a "I see your pain," and "How can I help you" sort of way. I typically go through my days offering "gifts" if you will, and so often receiving as well, but I don't it consciously. There were other gifts given and received along the way that I have not posted because it would just take too long to list everything. What I can say, is that by taking on this challenge and seeing it through, I am even more aware of how truly blessed I am to be living a life of abundance and how much more I can share in so many ways. Giving doesn't have to take us out of our daily plan, it can become an integrated part of our lives and make life so much richer.  I would encourage anyone who is thinking about taking on the challenge to jump right in....and I will warn, it is not as easy as it seems :-) I struggled on some days where I couldn't see what I had to give, but then an opportunity would present itself. It is so powerful that I will take it on again later in the year. For now, I'm going to spend some time reflecting on the experience. ~Blessings, Janet
If you want to see what it is all about, you can check out the website here: 29 Gifts :-)

“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.” 
~ Charles Dudley Warner ~

Thursday, January 27, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 20, 21 and 22 ~ Catching Up

When I have a hard time remembering what gift I gave a few days ago, I'm thinking it is time to catch up on the Journal :-). On Monday, my daughter invited me over to see her new apartment and we enjoyed a nice visit. She had completed unpacking all of the boxes for her kitchen and pantry and was excited to show off her pride and joy...the pantry :-) She loves to bake and has arranged her pantry like a showcase of baking ingredients and tools. It is really beautiful and fun to look at. I asked her if she needed any help unpacking and she said she was going to do it slowly and that she was a little tired. There were about 15 empty boxes sitting around the dining area so my Gift #20 was to take the empties off her hands and free up some space for her to work around when she was ready. I could tell she was relieved and not having to mess with them herself.

Need some empty boxes? :-)

Tuesdays Gift #21 was a monetary donation to The Ronald McDonald House. I had recently seen an episode of Extreme Makeovers Home Edition and noted how the family had expressed their gratitude for having spent time in one of their houses because their child was facing a serious health challenge. I cannot even begin to imagine having my child suffer from a life threatening illness and I am eternally grateful that she has been so very healthy all of her life.
They do good things :-)

Yesterday's Gift #22 was escorting Mom over to Best Buy to help her pick out her computer. It was really a gift of moral support because she was a little nervous about which one to purchase. I am excited because I know she will love this computer. Her current computer is eight years old and takes about 3 hours (exaggeration) to warm up :-)

I'm so excited for Mom!

Yea! It feels so good to be caught to go and catch up on a few other things :-)

Today I am grateful for:

1) My washer, dryer and laundry room :-)
2) Colored markers, pencils and crayons
3) Blue Jeans :-)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Day 20 Time for a nap

It had been a very busy few days and I hadn't been sleeping well, however, on Sunday morning, the hubs and I took time out for a morning matinee and went to see The King's Speech, which we thoroughly enjoyed. After lunch, Rick's son, Christopher came by to help with some yard chores and to try out Rick's new miter saw. I could have joined in on the yard work, or gotten involved in any number of household projects, and instead curled up on the sofa with a nice soft blanket and settled in for a two hour nap. Gift number 20 was a rare nap for myself.

Today I am grateful for:

1) Delicious fresh broccoli from Mom's garden
2) Shopping and lunch with Mom (a much too rare pleasure)
3) A nice evening walk with Hubs and the puppers

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 17, 18, & 19 ~ The Gift of Service

Sometimes gifts are bittersweet and this is how I feel about this one, well actually they are three. My daughter, who has been staying with us for a month after a break-up moved into a new apartment over the weekend. I had imagined something different, but there we were and she had made a decision I wasn't happy with. In fact, I was angry, hurt, and disappointed. There were a few ways I could have handled it and I chose to take the hurt, the anger, and the disappointment and turn it into a gift.

While she was at work I went to Office Max, purchased boxes, and then came home and began the processing of packing up her things. In just a little over a month, she had moved half of her apartment into my kitchen and my guest bedroom and bath and she hadn't stayed long enough to really even settle in, but long enough for there to be a lot of stuff :-). As I filled each box, I labeled the side and the top with the room where it would go, the contents, and whether it was fragile. I drew simple little pictures of her valentine box, something I knew would touch her. I placed them all near the front door so they would not have to be carried very far. (Moving can be exhausting :-) and even though I wasn't happy with her decision, and I wasn't going to support what I felt was a mistake, I could at least do this.

For Day 17's gift I packed up the contents of her kitchen (10 boxes) and on Day 18 I packed her bedroom and craft area (another 10 boxes) There were items I wasn't sure what to do with, so I just assembled several more boxes and put them on the bed. We have some relationship work to do, yes we do :-), but this gift was done with love and that is a step in the right direction.

Friday evening was date night so Rick and I were out and when we returned home she had left a note thanking us for allowing her to stay and for packing the boxes, expressing disappointment at the outcome, and confidence in her well as noting her new address.
This will be her new address card design

On Saturday, I was having a really hard time when she and her ex came to pack up the moving van. I could talk with her, but because of the tension that had been between us, I could not offer to help. Fortunately, my husband stepped in and asked her what the plan was. He cleared the wedge between us and I soon found myself offering my Day 19 gift, helping her move the boxes from the house into the van and into her car. Her dad was going to help her on the other end. When it was all done, she hugged me, told me thank you again, and that we would work on it. We both cried...and told each other "I love you."
Brandi and I during one of our adventures :-)
 Today I am grateful for:

1) A mother's unconditional love
2) An independent and fearless daughter
3) My supportive hubs :-)

Thursday, January 20, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Day 16 Transforming Disappointment

Here we are on day 20 already of the 29 Gifts challenge and I am a bit behind in my posting so I will be doing a little catch up in the next couple of days. Working through a family challenge has been at the heart of activities during the past few days and I will be doing some sharing on that in coming posts. For now though, let's go back a couple of years :-) and my Day 16 gift where I was able to transform a personal disappointment into a gift for many others.

Two years ago I was approached by members of author and spiritual teacher Deborah King's team to join a select group of coaches in teaching her method. I am always open to new ideas so I agreed to a meeting. However, being new in the coaching business at the time, I was not familiar with King's work so I went out and purchased her book and read it that same day. Much of what she had to offer I had read over and over in many other books that had resonated with me and I believed they would with many other women as well.  However, Ms. King's inclination toward using celebrity lives as examples does not work for me. I prefer a quiet and more intimate approach in my teaching. However, I did not realize that until I had bought into the program and purchased twenty-four of her books.

Over the next two years, I came to know myself more as a facilitator of personal growth and healing and I came to know that there are many paths to that destination and that we must choose that which works best for us as unique individuals. I've been holding onto these books because I realize they will have much healing value for many people, I just wasn't sure how to go about releasing them into the right hands. The 29 Gifts challenge inspired me to look for the right place and I did not have to look far.
Southwest Institute of Healing Arts is where I received my coaching and hypnotherapy training and I will be forever grateful to the many wonderful teachers who gently guided me. KC Miller, founder of the Institute, author of Toe Reading: Are You Walking Your Destined Path? and amazing spiritual coach is just the right person. I emailed her and asked her if she would be interested in a donation of Deborah King's books, Truth Heals and she graciously accepted. This is one of those gifts that I am blessed to plant a seed and another will be blessed to watch it bloom. Knowing that is also a gift. Disappointment in investing in twenty four books that I was not able to use in my business is transformed into the amazing gift of being able to give back.

Today I am grateful for:

1) Recognizing that I can transform disappointment into something good
2) A delicious Berry Good Protein Smoothie for breakfast
3) Freshly tilled front flower beds that will grow beautiful spring blossoms

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 14 and 15 Humor and Prayer

Day 14 ~ Yesterday I went to Target to pick up a few things. It was a rough day as we are going through some family challenges at the moment and I was attempting to cope with the reality that change must happen even at the risk of consequences I haven't been willing to face. When I arrived at the check out and saw the helpful cashier, I just thought geez, don't go and spread your lack of joy so, I as I took each item out of my basket and placed it on the belt, I said "Something to drink, something to wash my hands with, something for the dogs", and so on...and we both giggled as we realized that there was something for everyone there. She was smiling when I walked away with my purchase...and I felt contented that my gift of humor had a part in making her job fun this day. I have a sneaky suspicion that she has fun anyway, but still, it was nice to be a part of it.
Day 15 ~ This is really hard to call a gift simply because I would do it regardless of whether I was participating in a challenge or not. My good friend, Candace, is facing some challenges as a caregiver for her mother and now her 27 year old daughter. Her mom is in the hospital having just had surgery over the weekend locally, and her daughter has surgery, out of state today. Candace is an only child and was being torn between caring for her mother and caring for her daughter. I have held each of them up in prayer today, praying for quick and easy recoveries, for peace, comfort, calmness and courage for each of them. For help to be available as they need it and for them to each know the comfort of a kind and loving Creator. I have so often heard the phrase, "All I can do is pray," and I am always stunned at the little weight such a powerful action is given as I truly believe that the most powerful position on earth in On Your Knees in Prayer.

Today I am grateful for:

1) Aunt Judy (for lifting my spirits)
2) Delicious leftovers for lunch (yes, I love leftovers :-)
3) My Mom (for stopping by and bringing the puppies new toys....It was so sweet and they love them)

May we all be blessed this evening :-) Janet

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting Things Done ~ Conscious Awareness and Just Do It!

Do you have a bucket list? Do you have things on it that you intended to do in a certain time frame? Do life circumstances keep you occupied in such a way that it sometimes seems you may never accomplish the activities on your list?
I was feeling that way recently. Blindsided by the number of items still left un-done on my 50@50 list I decided it was time to reevaluate my list and to analyze why more of it hadn't been accomplished. And my first thought was to let go. What I mean, is to reevaluate each item on the list and decide whether it was still important to me. Was, for example, completing a meaningful piece of art still something I wanted to do? After contemplating the value of each item, I decided that each item was still important and that I was not willing to take anything off of the list. Okay. So now what?
The next thing I did, was to decide if my time frame is realistic...and this is where I made the first change. I decided that it is not important that I accomplish all of these items in one year. In fact, I really don't care if it takes me five years. What is important, is that I make steady progress toward completing every item.

Just after "training" :-)
About half way through the tour ~ Ashley made us do this! :-)
So, I decided to make a conscious effort to put some of the items on my calendar, or to otherwise make space for them in my life. For example, Rick and I have decided to get out of our post-grad rut. You can read about it here. Saturday, I made reservations to take the Desert Ridge Marriot Segway Tour! DONE! It was so much fun and was everything I had hoped it would be. Now I can confidently mark it off my list. Incorporating the things on my list into our week-end fun and annual vacations will ensure that activities like learning to kayak, taking the light rail, and swimming with the dolphins get done. Once a week I will be more aware of my menus and I can consciously try out a new fish recipe and I can do one meatless meal per week and try out a new vegetarian dish. I can pay attention to techniques that work well and to mistakes I make, and I can learn from them. Before I know it, I'm sure I'll be pretty good at both :-)

What is on your bucket list? What strategies will you use to accomplish the things that are important to you?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 12 & 13 Entertaining Him

Day 12 ~ This gift also goes out to my husband. We were pretty stuck in a rut after graduation and his work is pretty intense, yet he is always there for me. When my God-daughter's husband was killed in Iraq, he supported my flying to Austin to help her. When my other niece was in crisis, he was there to say..."you need to go." The list just goes on and he never complains or asks for anything. And so, on Thursday evening, he made the comment that he would like to see a couple of shows that are coming to our local performing arts center in April. I decided it was the perfect time to surprise him. So I bought tickets to both events and surprised him.
Hotel California
Spencer's Theatre of Illusion
 Day 13 ~Gardening here in what we affectionately call the Salt River Valley is different than most places in the country. Low rain levels, clay soil, searing summer heat and alkaline soil bring a few challenges to even the most experienced gardener. Years ago I took a Master Gardener class with the University of Arizona's Maricopa Country Extention Center. I have loved that manual and it has been so useful in helping neighbors, family members, friends, friends of friends and even our own lawn guy with different aspects of gardening. What does this have to do with my gift. Recently a sweet client shared her love of gardening with me. She has inspiration of starting a personal gardening business where she helps people design and install home gardens. I know the manuals will be as useful to her as they have been to me, so I am passing them along to her. 

I just know she will enjoy this as much as I have and it will answer so many questions she has about gardening in our interesting conditions. 

Today I am grateful for:

1) Our fun Segway Tour today
2) Quiet time to finish reading 365 Thank Yous
3) My Bailey's and Coffee with Homemade Whipped Cream (It's the small things :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 10 & 11 Acknowledging Mom

Day 10 ~ My parents are both retired, well dad is semi-retired so they they are pretty used to each other's company. Dad is out of town this month, and while Mom keeps herself pretty busy during the day, I'm sure she's finding the evenings a little unnerving, so I stopped by her house and dropped off the book: The Shack by William Paul Young. It's a nice read with a great message and I think she'll enjoy reading it.

 Day 11 ~ Mom is on my mind and I have been noticing how much of her time she spends taking care of my 96 year old grandmother's needs. Nana lives alone, but she hasn't driven in decades and has been having some health challenges of late. The thing that really makes this special, is that admittedly, care-giving is not in Mom's gifting. She claims not to have the patience :-). And yet, at the drop of a hat, mom leaps into action and does whatever needs to be done. Doctor's visits, grocery shopping, hair-dying, hair-cutting appointments, lunches or shopping excursions, ER visits, house cleaning, yard tending, Christmas decorating, hearing aid battery changing take up much of her week. The list goes on, because like all of us, Nana has needs, but unlike most of us, she needs some help getting things done.

When I posted on my other blog that Rick and I were reviving date night and were going to see Country Strong, Mom asked me how it was and said she would like to go. She and my Aunt Judy, who also works with mom taking care of Nana are going to see it together. So, today I dropped off $50.00 in Theatre Gift Cards and a $10 Starbuck's Gift Card so they can treat themselves. I don't think Mom knows it's there because I just quietly left them on the counter....:-) I hope she doesn't accidentally throw them away :-) She got tendencies :-)

Mom...Enjoy! :-) Love you!
Today, I am grateful for:

1) A beautiful warm and sunny day :-)
2) Home cooked dinner 4 nights in a row! It makes the next one really special :-)
3) Date night revived! :-)

Have a wonderful weekend! ~Blessings, Janet

50@50 ~ Number 8 ~ Everyday Extraordinary: Capturing God Moments

These two photos are numbers 9 and 10 of my 50@50 project in my quest for the best of the best in representing those God Moments that take my breath away. This first one is the view I see as I turn the corner off the main street that leads into our little subdivision. People visit here from the East and always comment on how brown it is here. Yes, it certainly can be seen that way, especially in light of the lush green that blankets most of the East. However, I have learned to really look, and I mean really look to see the marvelous architecture of our desert plants and trees. Every time I turn that corner, I am reminded how great God is and how gracious to create such amazing beauty for us to enjoy. Aren't those tree trunks amazing? And notice how the long pink flower spikes are leaning out to sun themselves.
My neighborhood
My heart always seems to skip a beat when we are up in the mountains and approach the elevation where the Aspens make their home. Aspen trees have long been my favorite sort of mysterious tree. I'm not sure why I find it so magical; perhaps it's the quaking leaves, or the fact that it is the largest living single organism in the country with it's roots spreading throughout Colorado nurturing new seedlings that will grow and thrive. I captured this shot on our vacation in the Rocky Mountains this summer. I had long appreciated the work of photographers who shot photos up through the trees and only lamented that I would never get the opportunity. Yet here it is, and I love it, as it transports me right back to that moment when I felt new as one of the seedlings being nurtured and protected by these two grand trees.
Capturing a dream
In keeping with our determination to stay out of the rut, the hubs and I are off on a Segway Tour of Desert Ridge out in North Scottsdale this weekend. I'm excited about the opportunity to capture some fun shots. They probably won't make it into the coffee table book, but I will share the fun here next week. Have a fun-filled weekend. ~ Blessings, Janet

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Day 9 Just a note to say hello...and I'm thinking of you :-)

This was another easy one as my high school BFF is always in my thoughts. After high school we lost touch and after 2 decades I began to search for her through google,, etc. It is often harder to find women because we change our names when we get married and that was so with Sara. Feeling pretty nostalgic about 5 years ago during the holiday season, I signed on to my account and searched for her. She wasn't there, but both her sisters were! I wrote them both to say hello and letting them know I was looking for her. Long story short, we reconnected after 22 years! Sara and her husband flew out here and we spent time catching up. Afterward, we spoke on the phone every Sunday for about a year. Then, tragically, her daughter-in-law suddenly died and Sara was left to care for her grandchildren and our calls became fewer and fewer and now, we only talk about once a year. She is never far from my thoughts though...and my gift to her is a personal note letting her know that I am thinking of her, that she is important in my life, and that I will always be here for her.

A note for Sara
The one thing I know about spontaneous letter writing, is that you never know what kind of impact it will have on your recipient. I have been blessed to have had God's timing on my side and have written notes seemingly randomly, only to find out later that my letter was just the comfort needed at that moment in life, or that it was the inspiration to do art again. A seemingly simple and inexpensive gift can have an enormous impact. Now, I don't know if Sara will just read my note and smile...or if it will be just what she needs to hear right now. What I do know, is that people don't know they are on your mind...unless you let them know. 

Today I am grateful for:

1) Dinner at home three nights in a row :-)
2) My sweet, remarkable clients
3)My beautiful Arizona Ash Tree baring only her winter skeleton. She gives me the seasons

Minnie Mouse ~ Silly Girl
I just captured this photo of Minnie Mouse laying sprawled out in the family room for an afternoon nap and thought you might enjoy...:-)

Here's a link to the 29 Gifts Website in case you want to check it out. Have a beautiful day! ~ Blessings, Janet

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 7 & 8 ~ Because you're special & Doing my small part

Day 7 ~ This gift goes out to all of you special people who take your precious time to read my blog and then go the extra mile to leave a comment letting me know you were here :-). Your thoughts are just so heart-lifting and I am so aware of the time it takes to read through the myriad of wonderful blogs and leave comments. I feel especially blessed when I am chosen to receive your words. I have turned off the Crazy Scrambled Word feature which will make commenting go a little smoother. Thank you again for the gift of your time and your comments.

Day 8 ~ This gift is for the Planet and for all animals that are saved from being lab subjects in the testing of health and beauty products. One of my 50@50 things to do is to make my home as toxin free as possible. I now use homemade products for cleaning my home; (vinegar, baking soda, lemon, peroxide, essential oils and water). I have replaced my hair care products with products that are manufactured by a company committed to protecting the environment and do not use animals in their testing. Today...I replaced my empty Neutrogena Healthy Defense daily moisturizer with Aveda's Tourmaline Charged Hydrating Creme.

Aveda's Mission Statement : Beauty is as Beauty Does
I can expand my contribution by supporting companies who are truly environmental leaders. There are many who claim to be environmentally friendly through slick advertising campaigns and yet they contain the same toxic ingredients and are testing in the same inhumane ways. Being aware of what I am purchasing and from whom is just a small part...and as the Dali Lama says something like: "Your contribution is insignificant, but it is important." And I thought about that for awhile. When we string together all of our contributions, it becomes quite significant :-)

Other Environmental Leaders in the Health and Beauty industry are Shaklee and Jane Iredale
(I am not paid to endorse any of the products I talk about :-).

Today I am grateful for:

1) The absolutely delicious homemade stuffed bell peppers my friend Candace gave me for dinner Monday evening. Yum!
2) My wonderful mentor and friend Marsena who graciously allows me to rent her beautiful office by the hour.
3) Farmers who really provide humane care for the animals they raise.

Here's a link to the 29 Gifts Website in case you want to check it out. Have a beautiful day! ~ Blessings, Janet

Monday, January 10, 2011

50 @ 50 ~ Number 8 ~ Everyday Extraordinary: Capturing God Moments

I created this list over a year and a half ago, and with the best of intentions, I allowed things that were not on this list to take priority and, consequently, I'm not even half way through the list. I thought about re-visiting the list and taking things off that don't still appeal to me and when I did, I decided that I really want to accomplish what is there. I decided that if these items were important, I could figure out how to make myself accountable. Duh, blogging content is always a great way. Tell the world and then get to it. So here we go again.

Even though the items are numbered, I'm not taking them in any particular order, so here's what's going on with Item #8 ~ Creating a Coffee Table Picture Book. In order to "finish" something, we often need to know why we want to do it to begin with. I want to create the coffee table book because every now and then I take a photograph that captures the essence of the place. It is always an acknowledged "God Moment," and I want to be able to share those priceless moments in the pages of a book. So far, I have chosen eight such photographs for the book and my goal is to choose one hundred photos. I will share them here as it comes along and not keep them a secret until the project is complete. I hope you enjoy them and get a sense of those "God Moments" as well.

Here are the first eight:
Bridal Veil Falls ~ Utah May 2007
Provo River ~ Utah May 2007
Oak Creek Canyon ~ October 2008
Oak Creek Canyon ~ October 2008
La Jolla, CA ~ April 2009 ~ Celebrating 5th Anniversay
La Jolla, CA ~ April 2009 ~ Celebrating 5th Anniversary
La Jolla, CA ~ May 2009 ~ Meeting My Grand Niece and Nephew
Dobson Park ~ July 2010 ~ Morning Walk w/Rick and the Puppies

I am so grateful that life is full of these beautiful surprises. I only have to open my eyes to the beauty that surrounds me everyday. This last photograph was taken while the hubs and I were walking our two new cocker pups in our neighborhood park. It was happenstance that we even noticed this...and it was like our entire family was, in that moment, getting a big Divine hug. :-) Enjoy. ~ Blessings, Janet

Sunday, January 9, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Day 6 ~ Almost more than words can say: Love Bugs and Hacky Sacks :-)

This one was so easy it could almost be called cheating. But giving is giving and I'm going to do it anyway. Back in the summer when I saw these two little cuties, I immediately thought of my nieces, Carissa and Rachelle. You may have guessed by now that I procrastinated in sending them.

Lady Bug and Patriotic Hackie Sack
Every time I see a lady bug I think of Carissa. She's my 22 year old niece who works as a Veterinary Assistant in Carlsbad, CA. For as long as I can remember she has loved animals. When she was just a tot, she and her mom, my sister, Barb, would create these miniature bug farms in their back yard. Barb knew Carissa's tender heart and would go to great lengths to nurture it.
Carissa and one of her patients :-)
Whenever I see anything with a stars and stripes theme I think of Rachelle. She lost her husband nearly three years ago in the Iraq war. She was six weeks pregnant and he had only been there for a month when he was killed. She was devastated, we all were. Now, she's got a beautiful 2 year old son who keeps her going. He is an amazing child.
Rachelle and Richard
I've shared before about losing Barb twelve years ago to a fatal heart attack. It's been a rough go for these precious girls. They're doing pretty well now though. They have an amazing family that loves, lives, and plays together and I couldn't be happier for them.

Anyway, back to giving. You know how much fun it is to get a little surprise in the mail; Something different than junk mail and bills? I just thought I'd pop these in the mail for them and let them know I'm thinking of them...Just because I love them :-) ~ Blessings, Janet

Today I'm grateful for:

1) Time
2) My new whipping cream dispenser (I know, it's stupid, but I love it!)
3) Fresh lettuce from my garden

Here's a link to the 29 Gifts Website in case you want to check it out.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

29 Gifts: Days 4 & 5 ~ Reviving Date Night and Helping Others Help Others

Day 4 ~ Well, I'm going to get boring here, but this one was for hubby again. I picked him up from work a bit early and revived our date night. We started at our favorite little neighborhood Greek place for happy hour and dinner. We planned on going to a movie, but skipped it in favor of a movie at home cozied up with Bailey's and Coffee in front of the fire place. What makes this a gift to hubby is that our lives have been sort of out of balance during the last few months and I know that he appreciates me making the effort to regain our balance. He's working on a huge new project at work that has its inherent stress so providing that "safe place to fall" back at home helps him manage it easier.

Day 5 ~ One of my favorite charities is Big Brothers~Big Sisters because I really believe that every child needs and deserves a stable adult in their lives who care about their well-being. I so admire the men and women who make time in their lives for child in need and I love supporting their efforts. So today, I gathered up a car load of goodies, including a computer and monitor to take to Savers, which is their affiliated thrift store. I only dropped the things off today, but I also shop there a few times a year (when I need a certain jean size :-) and am not willing to pay good money for new jeans...and when I've got an interesting party I'm putting together because they sometimes have really unique serving pieces. Then I donate them back at another time.

Today I am grateful for:

1) A beautiful crisp day
2) My mom
3) New Photo Organizing Cart (yes, I need a cart :-)

Friday, January 7, 2011

29 Gifts: Day 3 ~ Making sure he knows it's real :-)

When we give, we receive; it's a Universal Law. So I have to share this story about my Day 2 gift of "Dinner waiting" for my husband. I roasted the chicken, prepared the vegetables (broccoli), arranged the salad on individual plates. (I usually put them in individual bowls, but they were in the dishwasher). So hubby sits down and enjoys a nice relaxing dinner, pre-chaos style, and at the end of the meal, I commented on how delicious the salad was. (Some days, they just are; especially if I've been filling myself with holiday sweets and carbs.) Then he says, "It is good, and nice arrangement." :-))) Seriously :-) What a gift for him to notice that. I admit, it was nicely arranged {Spring mix, topped with shredded purple cabbage, shredded orange carrots. I arranged sliced cucumber and tomato around the perimeter and sprinkled shredded cheese over the top} It was pretty...and he noticed it...and appreciated it. Like I said, a gift.

Dinner for 2
Day 3Stability -You may recall I was pretty stoked about my plans for Day 3. Unfortunately, my intended recipient fell ill and we did not get to connect yesterday so I was stuck for a Day 3 gift. I'll save it for her and for another day, but I came up with an alternative recipient, once again, the hubby. I had mentioned that our peaceful evenings had gone awry as of late and so I decided that I would continue the dinner us regain that aspect of our "life by design." When Rick walked in from work, the aroma of Barbecued Pulled Pork filled the air...and he knew what was for dinner. The table was set, the salads (in our salad bowls this time :-) were ready and he could just unwind with a nice glass of wine. It was perfect.

Today I am grateful for:

1) My hubby
2) Sweet oranges from dad's tree
3) Flexibility in my work

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

29 Gifts ~ Days 1 and 2 ~ Learning Universal Laws and Celebrating Friendship

Several years ago, after participating in Cursillo (a church retreat) I had the opportunity to serve other attendants. During the retreat in which I was a participant, we were lavished with love and attention. The sense of community was palpable and comforting. I came away from that retreat a changed person...more loving, more compassionate and certainly my faith had grown. I felt so blessed...and I jumped at the opportunity to serve as a volunteer and prayer partner in the next retreat. I had no idea the amount of work that had gone into preparing and carrying out such a lovely event. We worked for months prior to the retreat and day and night throughout the long weekend of the retreat. It was the hardest I had ever worked. We cleaned, cooked, prayed with, and attended to every need of the participants. We contacted family members to ensure that their loved ones were supported. And during the last evening, we prepared the most lovely candlelit dinner.
I'm telling you this, because during the time that I served, I came to know, really know...that it was while I was in the service of others that I really received the greater gift. I was witness to so many beautiful moments and gained cherished friendships and I was truly overwhelmed with the idea that I could feel even more gratitude in serving than I had in receiving (which was overwhelming in itself).

That was more than a decade ago and many changes have taken place that have brought me to this point in my life. My giving has largely consisted of donating clothing and household items and sending checks to our heart felt causes as well as supporting family members in crisis. All of this is good...and needed and I feel blessed to be able to do it, however, it has felt more rote and obligatory than joyful...and giving should be joyful. So when I read this post from Angie of Living Aloha about the 29 Gifts Challenge, it touched my heart, it sparked a renewed desire, and an awareness that giving back can be a way of life. I recalled those precious moments on the Cook Team for Cursillo and realized that it was a gift...that keeps giving back.

So, after reading Angie's post, I clicked over to the 29 Gifts website and joined the challenge. I knew right away what I wanted to give as my first gift.

Day 1 ~ I drove over to Lowe's and purchased 2 boxes of outdoor lights that mimic lightning bugs. They were a huge hit with my parents at Christmas and I know that they will be with my good friend Candace. I bought 2 boxes so that she can give one to her grandson, Vince who is a precocious, life-loving 4 year old who lives in the LA area, about a six hour drive away from Nana. Anyway, Candace loves spending time with this little guy and she has a beautiful backyard with lots of fun spaces and I thought this would be a nice addition to her magical space.

Day 2 ~ This one is for my husband. I am so blessed to be able to work with a very flexible schedule and in the normal course of our lives, if I am home at dinner time, when Rick walks in, the aroma of something cooking is usually in the air. However, lately...not so much. In fact, yesterday was the first time that I can remember in several weeks that I actually cooked dinner. So today, I'm setting the table, and roasting a chicken so that when he walks in, the aroma will hit him, and he won't have to say, "Where are we going for dinner?" There will be a little glimmer of hope that the life we've designed, our peaceful evenings have not been lost. :-).

Thank you Angie, for inspiring me to get back to the heart of giving. I am so excited and I already have the gift ready and waiting for tomorrow.

There is plenty of room at the 29 Gifts site for more friends, so if you are feeling the urge, take a minute and check it out. Look at Eileen Bradley's beautiful Mandala's as well. They are absolutely gorgeous!

I am also taking Angie's lead and posting a gratitude list as I feel it is so important to acknowledge those bits of grace that are so abundant in our lives.

Today's Gratitude List

1) Angie ~ You are amazing!
2) Michael and Minnie (all the giggles they inspire every day)
3) New Keurig Coffee Maker (it is helping me cut down to one cup a day :-)