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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

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My husband, Jason broke his neck when he was 15 years old.  About a year into his new life he came to a crossroads where he needed to find a way to take his hope in his future life to the next level.  He pulled out a piece of paper and numbered it from 1-100 and started writing down the things he was grateful for.

The first 25 were easy – food, family, a home, a bed, friends, etc.  The next 25 were also pretty easy but more specific.  The third 25 started getting difficult for this teenager to think of.  76-100 were a test, indeed.  He was thankful for ketchup, lightbulbs and  and the posters on his wall.  If he could see it then he wrote it down.

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It’s been about 27 years since that first Gratitude List was created in the bedroom of a 16-year-old.  Many Gratitude Lists have been created since in the Hall house.  I go through this process on a regular basis.  It has taken different forms over the years – I’ve made lists of 1-100.  I’ve kept Gratitude Journals like these for a year at a time.  My first Project Life album was dedicated to finding something I was grateful for each day and taking a photo of it.  Click on my “Project 365 of Gratitude” category for past posts about this project or look at this post or  this post or this post to see why I love using Project Life as a gratitude journal.

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I believe gratitude is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal in the battle against discouragement, negativity, heartbreak, depression and every life challenge that we can face.  It is a life skill that takes practice in order to become strong.  As a habit, it straightens our spines, clears our minds and opens our hearts to hope.  Simply said, gratitude overcomes negativity and creates joy.

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Take a moment this holiday season to write down what you are thankful for.  Make a list of 1-100.  Your children can be very successful at this activity as well, even if you break it up into multiple sittings.  Post your list somewhere that you can look at often to remind you of your blessings.  Big things, small things – include them all on your list.  Mine had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Bettona Pants from Athleta.  When we choose to be grateful for things like that, it’s easy to be grateful all day.

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Another way to do it is to write down something you are grateful for each day for a month.  See how it changes your heart, your attitude, your outlook on daily life, and how you interact with others.

I’ve added some shapes to my Silhouette store that will help you with your gratitude lists.  I hope you enjoy them!

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So Thankful For You - Thumbnail

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We are finally to my favorite time of year – the season of gratitude and family.  Giving thanks is a tool for me.  I believe it is the guaranteed way to banish any negative thought, feeling, attitude, or circumstance.  It’s like a magic trick.  Creating quotes about gratitude is like breathing for me.  I am inspired as I work on those words and thoughts and it helps me remember to focus only on the good in spite of difficult challenges or struggles.

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Jason is home for about a week as we wait for yet another surgery and another six-week stay in the hospital.  The last surgery failed and after 13 weeks in the hospital, he was able to come home for a little break before the next round begins.  The surgeon is confident that it will work this time….after three surgery attempts and six out of the last 12 months spent in the hospital, we are praying and hoping that this one will work.  But in the middle of it all there are so many things to be grateful for.  Big things, small things, miracles of every shape and size that happen on a daily basis that happen so often in the form of other people.

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We are grateful for our family, our neighbors, our friends – both nearby and far from us.  Cyberspace connects us no matter where we are and we feel the love and support from all fronts.  Thank you.  We feel loved in so many ways and that brings us such joy and hope.  Thank you!

I hope you are inspired by my new quotes located in my Silhouette store and will be available soon at loriwhitlock.com’s SVG shop.  It’s project season!    Enjoy these quotes for all of your thanksgiving projects.

I am grateful for you!

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Template In Everything Give Thanks - Thumbnail

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About a month ago my mother handed me a $20 bill and a tiny frame with a little post-it note attached.  It said, “Stop It.”  “Blue and green.” “Small.”

It was her way of telling me that she wanted the words from Dieter Uchtdorf’s latest talk designed in some lovely way for her home and was willing to pay for it.  For Mother’s Day, I made this project for her and wrapped it up in a polka-dot bag with her $20 tucked inside.  To be honest, I love being able to give something that a person really wants so it was my pleasure to create this little treasure for her…minus the frame, minus the payment, and minus the blue and green color combo that she requested.  After all, I had thought of something so much more beautiful.  And cool.  Yes, I had to make my Mom’s gift cool.  She may be in her 70s but she doesn’t act like it so why should her home decor?

This phrase was just a part of a bigger message that has been put together nicely here by Nick Sorensen, but I like these two simple words – I think they can stand on their own.  I believe that everyone has something in their life that they want to change or improve and these six letters are a gentle but clear reminder to stop whatever it is we are doing in favor of making a change.  Chewing your nails, eating a bucket of fried chicken every day, choosing negative comments or thoughts…we have to just stop it, right?  Motivation doesn’t come simpler than that.

My Silhouette files this week were inspired by this project.  You get a variety of Lace Background Patterns (Chevron included) and Stencil Phrases in current themes to pair them with (Father’s Day, Graduation/Congrats, Thank You, Love Life).  I also threw in some borders and blank frames because I know how much we all need those as well.  They match the Artisan Chain design.  Hooray!

LACE PATTERN BACKGROUNDS

STENCIL PHRASES

ARTISAN FRAMES AND BORDERS

How did I make Mom’s “Stop It” wall art?

1.  Scaled Chevron Lace pattern to be 4″ wide and cut it out.  Cut out a background square as well.  White-on-white again – could anything be more beautiful?  And subtle.  She knows what it means and why she is inspired by it.  It doesn’t have to scream at her to get the point across.  Soft, lovely, approachable.

2.  Cut a piece of chipboard 4″ square and mount solid square and chevron pattern to it.  Cut out “Stop It” phrase from “Love Life” shape file.  Remove words from phrase (ungroup and highlight words then delete them) and cut out an extra solid oval.  Mount it behind the phrase so you can see what the words say.  I used a very, very light blue color.  Just a tiny bit of contrast to be able to read the words.  Again – subtle.

3.  Punch two small holes at top of 4″ square and tie a ribbon through to create a hanger.  The ribbon is the pale shade of blue I used behind the words.

Tiny.  Lovely.  Sweet.  Subtle.  Perfect.

She loved it so much more than how it would have looked in her fancy frame.  Dieter Uchtdorf’s wife is her friend so she asked for one more to give to her.  High praise, if I do say so myself.  Use any of the Lace Background Patterns and Stencil Phrases that I have uploaded this week in my Silhouette store to create a project just like this, a card for Father’s Day or Graduation, or just to say that you are grateful.  You’ll want all of the files this week – lots of uses and lots of choices so add them to your library and start creating.  Click here to go to my Silhouette store.

As you can see, I’m in love with white-on-white right now.  It’s so clean and fresh.  Check out this great technique while using color here at Inspiration Ave.

Happy cutting!

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Yes.  I’m on a letter-size card kick.  I just love the perfection of this size of a notecard and how easily it fits into a regular business-size envelope.  Simple.  Oh, these look so yummy all lined up together – a phrase for everything.  Possibilities?  Yes, these create possibilities.  And love.  They are all about giving love.  Simply.

This week in the Silhouette store you get 10 sets of cards – all with a different theme and unique phrases.  Here’s what I would do.  Throw those puppies into your cart, get them in your library and cut out a couple of each.  Then stick them in a business envelope so that you can see the words when you flip through them and slide that envelope into a special spot in a drawer or on a shelf to reach for all year long.  Any occasion, any time of year, pop out one of those cards, jot down a note, stick it in a business envelope (or have some of these envelopes cut out already!) and you’re ready.  All it needs is a stamp and an address – or not, depending on where it is going.

Done.

Sometimes we don’t have time to cut out a new design at each moment that we need something to give. These cards solve that problem.  (Whether you need them to or not – they will solve that problem for you.)  Click on each of the above images to head straight to the store.

You will also see some delightful little swallows (Vintage Swallow, Vintage Swallow Perched and Vintage Swallow Perched 2), the perfect Bracket Frame Set and a Thick Flourish Set that match my monogram cards.  A little bit of everything this week.  Click on the name or image to find them in my store.

Oh, how could I forget my favorite shape of all – “Thank You Lace.”  What?  What does that mean?

lace + thank you = Thank You Lace.

This collage of gratitude bundles up all that you would want to say in one 5×7 shape. Perfect for a card but I’ll show you how I’m going to use it in a couple of weeks.  I think it deserves to be framed.  More on that later….

Happy cutting!

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Sometimes I think my life is hard.

Like last night when I was running to the bathroom to throw up because of food poisoning and Cole was crying in the kitchen because he thought it was a race and I had left him in the dust.

Or lots of times when I have to fix a “quadriplegic emergency” – which actually could be anything from nursing a bedsore to running to the garage because Jason has gotten stuck on the ramp.

I saw a story today about a family who has eight children, four with muscular dystrophy.  As the line of family members traveled along, with three wheelchairs interspersed, I said to Jason, “Just when I thought my life was hard.”

I don’t know what it is like to deal with many of the trials and challenges that people face in this world.  But I do know what it’s like to live with someone in a wheelchair.  And while our lives are rich beyond measure, there are still hard things.  No matter what adversity you might face or what joys you experience, there are still hard things.

But I am so grateful today.  Not for the food poisoning.  Not for the “quadriplegic emergencies.”  Not for the three-year-old always wanting to “win” whatever competition he is participating in.  I’m grateful for you.  For your stories.  For your moments of strength that beat out the moments of struggle.  The smiles in spite of the circumstances.  The life lived well – or as best as you can live it at the moment.

The picture of the jar of butterflies that I used in my last post came from this etsy shop.  I used it simply because I liked the picture for what I was trying to say about my One Little Word.  Today, I still like it.  I like it so much that I just bought those little butterflies.  And I can’t wait to receive 100 butterflies in my mailbox.  I know.  Now you want some, too.

Lucky me.  Life isn’t so hard after all.

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Jason and I love to go to Broadway shows.  When we lived in Connecticut we were just outside of New York City and would head into Manhattan on a regular basis to check out the new plays and shows.  We started collecting the window card posters of our favorites, thinking that we would use them someday in our home.

Someday has arrived.  For Christmas to each other, we decided to frame our window cards so that we could put them up in our home.  We have this big tall wall that is right in front of you when you go down our stairway.  It’s a challenge to know what to do with a space like that but inspiration struck and we decided to put all of our window cards there.

Collections have the most impact when you group them together so we chose 18 window cards, had them framed all the same and then sat them on the landing in piles until I could put them up.

They sat there….and sat there….and sat there….for the last month and a half.  I admit, I was scared to put them up.  I knew we wanted three columns and six rows but I was nervous about getting everything straight and evenly spaced, etc.  Plus, the top row would end up about 18 feet above the landing and I was a little apprehensive of that height.

Last night we had our neighbor, Kevin, come over to fix a few things for us and Jason asked him to help us put the pictures up.  I had gotten halfway up the wall with the first three rows – and trust me, there were many more nail holes in the wall than just the nine that were supposed to be there.  It was really hard to make them look right!

But Kevin, a true professional, pulled out his level and his laser surveyor (I wish I had one of those!) and went to work measuring and marking until he had nine more holes placed in the wall – the top three rows.  When I handed him each picture I was shocked and DELIGHTED to see that his system of measuring and planning lead to perfect placement of each picture – on the first nail hole try.  I felt like I was watching our own show on HGTV.  Kevin was a rock star.

So now we have all of our window cards up on the wall and they look stunning, if I do say so myself.  And Kevin’s perfection on the top three rows help my rows look even better.  As a whole, they really make an impact.

Thanks, Kevin.  I’m grateful that you stuck with us so long to hang our pictures in such a professional way.  I’m grateful that you are so easy-going and kind.  I’m grateful that now we have such great memories in a place that we can enjoy them every day.

And I’m grateful that you were the one on top of the ladder instead of me.

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Yes, it’s true.  I’m grateful for Jim.  When I first started my boot camp workouts I was driving to Jim’s Gym and realized that in the rush to get Cole to the babysitter’s, I had forgotten a towel and my knee braces.  I ran into the Walgreens pharmacy that was on the way to Jim’s thinking that I would find both there.

I grabbed the braces I needed to keep my knees from getting loosey-goosey on me and went searching for a towel I could buy.  All I could find was an endcap full of Thanksgiving dishtowels (which I thought was pretty early for them, if you want to know the truth).  I chose one as quickly as I could and rushed to start my workout.

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At first I assumed I would just use that towel one time and then move it to my kitchen but as I saw the words embroidered on my towel hanging there on the equipment, it made me pause.  It said “Give Thanks” and as I used the elliptical machine I began to do just that.

I was grateful that I have the means to go to Jim’s Gym.

I was grateful that I have a fabulous babysitter for Cole that made it possible for me to do it.

I was grateful that Jim has the skill to help me work harder than I would have on my own.

I was grateful that I have little Coleman – the “baby-belly” reason why I was even at the gym in the first place.

I became more grateful – and as I did so, the workout started to go from misery to something a little better than that.  Yes, that was the day that I threw up so obviously the workout wasn’t easy.  But being grateful helped me get through it easier than if I had chosen to just complain.

I take that towel a lot to Jim’s.  It’s not cool or even remotely sporty enough for the gym.  But it reminds me of the gratitude I feel for the opportunity to get fit.  Opportunities for giving thanks are all around us and it’s remarkable how our perspective changes when we see the world through grateful eyes.

What are you grateful for today?

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Teaching 4th Grade

Teaching 4th Grade

I was looking through the Back to School issue of Creating Keepsakes magazine and came across an idea from Becky Higgins that struck a chord with me.  When I taught elementary school I always received many thank yous from students and parents at the end of the year and that felt great.  But Becky put a spin on that idea and decided to give her children’s teachers a thank you note at the beginning of the year – thanks in advance for a great year.

I have thought a lot about that since I read the magazine and have decided that it is a far more effective tool of building positive relationships with a teacher than one might first imagine.  Setting an expectation that you are going to have a great year with a teacher can actually help you get closer to achieving that great year than anything else.  By giving a thank you like this in the beginning, you are telling yourself, your child and the teacher that what is to come will be positive.  You are telling the teacher that you support them and recognize what they are doing for your child.

All in all, this idea of “thanks in advance” becomes of tool for building the kind of relationship that each parent hopes for with their child’s teacher.

So that is my download today – a “thank you in advance” label in traditional school colors that you can use on a card for a teacher.  Or simply trim around it and it becomes a flat card on it’s own with no other work involved.  Jot a note on the back and you’re done.

And as I have thought about this principle of pre-thanking, I have decided that there are many other situations that would also benefit from establishing a foundation of gratitude.  Any time we work with someone else toward a common goal we are more effective.  Why not thank your spouse or partner in advance for something they will do that is important to your family?  How about thanking your children before they clean their room or make good choices as a way to encourage them to make it happen?  What about thanking a neighbor for the support and memories that you will share in the future?  So I am also giving you other color versions of this download so that you can have one for any situation.

Pre-thanks.  It’s an interesting concept that can help create powerful results toward a positive relationship.  I would love to hear your thoughts about this idea so feel free to share your comments, thoughts and experiences about “thanks in advance” here.

We can never be too grateful so why not give generous gratitude a try?

Here’s to a great school year.  Enjoy!

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

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My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

My neighbor offered to pick some things up at the store for me - a small gesture in her mind but an enormous one in mine

I admit that I haven’t kept up with the journaling part of my Project 365 of Gratitude album during my postpartum issues – I’ll get to it (see #2 on my last post).  But I have tried really hard to take photos of things I am grateful for, print them and insert them into my album.  It’s interesting to see how the things I am grateful for have reflected my thoughts and feelings of going through this experience of postpartum.  That’s the point of the project, I suppose.  Capturing the moment – day by day no matter what is happening.  I have taken photos of things that I never would have thought to preserve before and I’m grateful for the chance it gives me to store the little memories that happen as we journey through the ups and downs of daily life.

But the real reason I kept up with my daily photos is because I know how healthy it is to have to remember to be grateful – even when I haven’t felt 100%.  Having to find something…anything…to be grateful for is part of the healing process.  Not only does it help us to maneuver through the twists and turns of life but it is the balm we need to overcome the obstacles we face.  Gratitude is the secret weapon for happiness.

In my last post I shared some of the mundane things I have been grateful for over the last couple of months and here are a few more.  Gratitude is truly all in your perspective.

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

I actually weeded the yard myself - with Cole's company, of course

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again.  G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

Nausea from the medication made me feel like I was having morning sickness again. G2 is my beverage of choice in that situation.

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me

This was the first time I felt like I could tackle going to the store - it just seemed like such a big place it overwhelmed me. Coleman is doing a good job holding the cake Jason bought.

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

Jason taught my church lesson for me so I wouldn't have to worry about it

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I actually finished the content for another month of our BPS workshop - that was a hard one for me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

I could have taken a photo every day of these two - they saved me

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I was just having  a conversation with a neighbor a few days ago about friendship and including people into our lives.  I’ve thought a lot about this topic over the years because although I feel like I am a good friend, I’m not necessarily the one putting myself out there to seek out new friendships.  I get nervous.  I’m not ever sure what to say or how to do it.  And I am very comfortable with having a few close friends and many, many acquaintances.

Jason, on the other hand, can make friends with a person while they wait on a street corner for the light to turn green.  It is his gift and talent.  He has and makes friends everywhere.  Thomas Hughes wrote:

Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God’s best gifts.  It involves many things, but above all, the power of going out of one’s self, and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.

In the last 16 years (almost 17 – I can’t believe it!) of our marriage, I have often used Jason somewhat as a crutch when it comes to this friend-making ability.  When we go to a new place, he is in charge of making the friends and forging a path in the “building relationships” area.  With him paving the way in this partnership of sorts, I then have more courage to follow along, using his strength to help me be more brave.

However, as we have recently moved to a new town, I have decided that I want to become better at doing this myself.  I believe that people can change.  It’s true that we come pre-wired, so to speak, with certain attributes and characteristics that make up the essence of who we are.  On the other hand, I also believe that we each have the ability to adapt or change, improve or get rid of certain qualities that we don’t like while adding characteristics to ourselves that we want to have more of.  With desire and hard work, we literally have the chance to become the best version of our own selves that we can be – no matter what our past has doled out for us or what our natural tendencies are.

So, with that in mind, I have worked on developing this quality of making friends in my life over the course of many years.  I want to be more like Jason.  I want to be more comfortable and open and able to create more meaningful relationships with those around me.  Throughout this personal quest for the ability to make friends more easily, I have learned something.  Having acquaintances is easy for me.  I have a lot of those.  I have business acquaintances, church acquaintances, neighborhood acquaintances, and so on.  I try to be kind to all those I meet – whether they are the person at the checkout stand or someone I pass while taking Cole for a walk.  That’s not the issue.

The trick for me that I have been working on is in developing those deeper, lasting relationships that mean more than just a wave or a hello in passing.  And the hard part about that is one simple thing – it takes a lot of time to build a strong friendship.  It takes effort.  It takes moment after moment after moment, all piled on top of each other to create something more substantial than a friendly smile to an unknown stranger.

But I’m working on it.  I am mustering up my inner courage and I am getting better at it.  I am taking the initiative more to be “that friend” to others.  I am stepping out of my comfort zone on purpose – with the understanding that if I truly want to become better at making new friends, I have to be willing to put in the time and effort to develop something with more meaning.  How do you do it?  Think about the best friendships you have – and they can include family because sometimes those are the hardest ones to maintain.  What do you do to develop and cultivate meaningful friendships?

With those thoughts in mind, here’s today’s download.  You can use it to make a card for a friend or maybe you are a little like me and you want to become better at creating strong friendships in your life.  If so, perhaps you’ll want to print it out and frame it as a reminder of this inner characteristic you are trying to develop or strengthen.

The best friendships are built piece by piece, conversation by conversation, kindness by kindness, memory by memory.  A million little things that each take a little time – but as that time passes, we emerge with more of our best selves invested in someone else’s life and deeper, stronger, more meaningful friendships.

please click on image to download pdf

please click on image to download pdf

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