Illuminating the Heart

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“In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.” ~ Francis Bacon

Well, the run of sappy, happy Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel has begun in earnest. I’m not one for sitting in front of the television for very long, but, I do take time out to watch a few of these “appropriate for the season” movies.

20pcs-lot-Love-Tea-Light-Holder-font-b-Luminaria-b-font-Paper-Lantern-Candle-font-bThe Christmas Heart is a film that has been playing on the Hallmark Channel since 2012. It’s about a small town that veers from tradition by not lighting the town streets with luminara candles, one year. One of it’s citizens (a teenage boy) is in need of a heart transplant and the town’s people deem that festive decorating was inappropriate.

Luminarias are something that I look forward to seeing when I experience a unique kind of Christmas this year. There is a short film called The Life of a Brown Paper Bag that gives the deeper meaning and history of this Christmas tradition of the southwest. Check it out! This two minute video is worth seeing because it won “Best in Show” 2010 HSMAI Adrian Award Winner for Web Marketing.

See you back here on All Things Fulfilling tomorrow as we continue the theme on things from the heart and their delivery in paper bags.

This blog is brought to you by EVVY award-winning author, Sue Batton Leonard. For information on her publications Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

Ring in the Season

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I am thinking of Christmas bells today and how they traditionally herald in the season. There are many song lyrics sung by carolers that incorporate a story of tolling bells.
When I think of bell choirs, which are a beautiful addition to any church service, I can’t help but think of my lifelong friend Marge and her husband. Their acts of love in remembrance of their child is a lovely gesture that echos year after year in my heartstrings. Jessie suffered from a heart ailment and when she passed away as a tiny infant, the family requested that donations of kindness be given toward buying bells to build a bell choir for a church.

HandbellGroup

On Christmas and Easter and a few other times throughout the year, Marge and her husband and their two surviving children ring the hand bells at their church in memory of Jessie and all the other children who are not here to celebrate Christmas and other holidays with their families.

Today I think of all the bell choirs who bring joy to people during the holiday season ~

“A bell’s not a bell ’til you ring it – A song’s not a song ’til you sing it – Love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay – Love isn’t love ’til you give it away!”
Oscar Hammerstein II

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

A Tapestry of Beliefs

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advent calendarOur journey has begun into the Advent season. People have different expectations about the days leading up to Christmas depending on a person’s upbringing. As a society, we have become so touchy, afraid to stand up to our own values for fear of offending others politically and spiritually when it comes to the holidays.

I believe we all come to our understandings about faith or not in different ways. In the New Year, a movie called Tapestry staring Stephen Baldwin and Burt Young is due to be released. It is one man’s story of his spiritual journey.

Although I have yet to see the movie that is now being filmed in New York City, I wonder if this film is a reflection of Baldwin’s own tale of enlightenment or discovery. He has said this about his role in the film, “After 25 years in the film business, the projects I choose now must motivate me on a creative level that inspires and elevates my sense of art and spirit.”

tapestry the movie

If you are inclined to question and seek to form your own beliefs about a higher being or the creative or spiritual world, keep your eye on this film release in 2016.

This blog is brought to you by the author of the EVVY award-winning book Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

 

Finding the Upside to Life

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When you were a child, do you remember sitting at the Thanksgiving table being asked what you were thankful for? It was so awkward. I hoped and prayed that all things that anyone could possibly be grateful for would be mentioned before it was my turn to speak up.

There was always the person at the table that had some profound thought or reflection to share but not in my family. Thankfully, I am happy that we were allowed to be silly and if the only thing we could think of was to say we were grateful for our animals, that was good enough. No stiff collars in our clan.

So, on this day before Thanksgiving, here is my thought for tomorrow. I am immensely happy to spread the joy of this notion with you, if you can relate to it!

mother cutting hair

Whenever you are having a bad day, I’d suggest visiting this website. There are also lots of fun things “from out of the mouths of babes” to  turn your frown upside down on this You Tube video

As we age, we begin to recognize the upside to the downside of life. It was the impetus behind my writing of an award-winning anthology of stories called Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected. With age, comes wisdom.

See you back here tomorrow on Turkey Day, I will be sharing more memories of Thanksgivings of my childhood. This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard.

 

Putting Back the Balance

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life like a bike

I love this image because it reminds me of a simple life – when tragedies such as what we just saw occur in Paris did not happen. A time when people were more caring toward their fellow man, had moral standards and pride that people worked hard toward achieving. Being a good, law-abiding citizen was something to be proud of.

Internationally things are a mess, and the only thing we can do as individuals is strive to do the right things in our own little worlds – in our families and in our neighborhoods and communities.

There is truth in the quotation “in order to keep your balance, you must keep moving.” Physical activity is good for a healthy mind, body and spirit. But, moving constantly due to unnecessary holiday frenzy, climbing the corporate ladder or wanting to have it all and wanting it NOW can lead to burn out, stress and imbalance. Results or goal driven people have a difficult time recognizing when they are teetering, ready to crash, until its too late.

have a cuppaIt’s important to take time out for ourselves and our families. When you’ve been on a roll, it is even more difficult to lay down the law with yourself and call it day.

So, my writing today is sort and sweet. I’m going to pretend what retirement looks like for a just a few minutes, with help from this article.

Do return tomorrow on Film Friday. I will be posting some information about a  just released movie that you and your family might enjoy watching together. You may remember this story of hope as one of the most compelling news stories of 2010. I remember sitting in front of the television in rapt attention as the events of this day in history unfolded.

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, author of Lessons of Heart & Soul and the EVVY award-winning memoir Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

A Holiday Challenge

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If you visited All Things Fulfilling yesterday, welcome back! We are grateful for our strong reader base that is continually growing!

Getting back to the basics has been a topic this week and today we will continue that theme. Combating the high value placed on material goods is a struggle for some families. Last night, I became aware of an initiative that might seem just right for your family. If not this year, perhaps it’s something to work towards in the future.

As you put together your holiday gift list, strive to give your loved one’s

only one of  these four things:

only-4-christmas-gifts-for-kids-something-you-want-something-you-need-something-to-wear-and-something-to-read.

 Add one more item to this list.  #5 Teach your children the value of giving to others.

Pick out one  item from these four categories and donate it from your family to another family in need in your community.  Have your children go along for the ride and drop it off at a thrift shop, a Salvation Army box, a local church, a non-profit organization or a community food kitchen. Although it may not seem like much, keep in mind that for many receiving all four items for Christmas would be beyond their wildest dreams.

Remember: People overestimate the pleasure they’ll get from having more stuff. This does not apply to new rose bushes, crayons, or yarn stashes. ~Dr. SunWolf

(P.S. Because it is wavering Wednesday, you are allowed to modify this quote with what feeds your soul!)

This blog is brought to you by Sue Batton Leonard, EVVY award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.

 

 

Up the “Awe” Factor for Kids

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Your deepest roots are in nature.  No matter who you are, where you live, or what kind of life you lead, you remain irrevocably linked with the rest of creation. ~  Charles Cook

In a world where there is tremendous focus on material things, how do we increase children’s “awe” factor about the natural world?

milkweed

Skip the frequent trips to the mall, and head to the great outdoors for fun and activities instead. Insist upon it as the parent. Teach your child to take notice of the spectrum of colors in the flames of an autumn bonfire. Next spring sit quietly with your family and listen to the crickets tone. Do it again  as spring moves into summer and as that fades into fall. You will notice there is a difference in the tones of one of nature’s creatures.

Point out the milkweed pods in a field and the fluff that blows through the air when it dries and opens. Let your child experience the difference in taste between a just-picked tomato off the vine and a refrigerated one.

vintage harvest

Visit the local farm to see where hens lay eggs, or to observe newborn lambs in the spring.  

Take a group of children on a hike and bring along a wildflower guide or a bird book – see how many species you can identify.

hiking

Go on a scenic family bike ride or watch a fishing boat as it unloads the catch of the day.

biking

Play outside on a snowy day with your family. Watch each crystal formation land on your gloves and examine how two snowflakes are alike – just like people.

Substitute digital playmates with neighborhood friends. Host baseball games at your place or invite kids to join in for some jump rope fun.

softball

kids-jumping-rope

You may be met with rolls of the eyes and bored “uh-huhs” as you point out the beauty in nature, but with time your child will grow to appreciate the outings. As kids mature they begin to “get it” and share the wonders of the world with others who appreciate and value the same kinds of things.

kids-beach

Your family will also benefit from times of special togetherness. With the holidays coming up it is a good time to start changing habits and initiating new traditions and living through the process of discovery.

There is an eye-opening documentary film that addresses children’s nature deficit disorder. The value of outdoor play for children is significant, especially in the digital age when children spend far too much time indoors.

This blog is brought to you by the author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

Reflections of Parents

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Yesterday, November 8th, was National Parents as Teachers Day.

food-for-thought-lectures-to-nourish-your-mind-86132072Children often take on their parents values, political views, styles of communication, the way they treat others and view the world. It helps to remember that you are raising a future adult rather than a child. “He or she is just a child” is an idea that some parents find hard to give up as their child grows. Before you realize it your child becomes a teen.  If you’ve never asked them to take on responsibilities it will be reflected when the teenage years begin.

The other day I read a statement that really made an impression on me, it said “If your child can use a cellphone, he or she can run a washing machine.” I’d like to add to that –  and set the table, load the dishwasher, feed the pets, take out the trash. A child no matter what age can contribute to the everyday responsibilities of a household.

If there are values or behaviors that  you’d LOVE  to see come back and haunt you, instill and teach those things to your children. Thoughtful parenting takes work. Just a little food for thought.

This blog is brought to you by award-winning author Sue Batton Leonard. For information about Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected.

 

Skits, Swaps and Songs

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We all have a place in the circle of life. Always remember who you are.” ~ Unknown

Who remembers singing rounds? I had forgotten all about that form of choral singing until I attended a Girl Scout Alumni Reunion the weekend before last. We sang many familiar campfire songs from my childhood. Skits were well done by some of the youth troops. They told stories about the G.S. founder Juliette Gordon Low and the history of the organization and cookie sales.


GS Sign in

I took SWAPS to trade with new friends who have found the same kind of meaningful connections through the Girl Scouts that I did many decades ago. If you have read my memoir, Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected, you probably already know from my chapter about the Girl Scouts what I took to trade with others.

I’d like to share a few pictures of the SWAPS I received from new acquaintances I acquired over the course of the evening. Each troop had their own swaps that they created to give to others.

GS Swaps

The swaps below were made by Sharon, a friend who is a beautician and hair stylist. She is an Alumni who enjoyed being a member of the youth organization during the same era as me. She made these swaps from emery boards, gauze and a little ribbon. The paper doll heads were made from clip art. Very creative and the girls who were lucky enough to receive them were so excited!

sharons swaps

The s’mores we ate around the campfire were gooey and yummy. I left the event singing a little ditty that baby boomers will remember if you were a member of the Girl Scouts.

I’ve got something in my pocket, it belongs across my face.
I keep it very close at hand, in a most convenient place.
I’m sure you couldn’t guess it if you guessed a long, long while.
So I’ll take it out and put it on, it’s a Great Big Brownie Smile!

A little trivia: The Brownie Smile Song was written by Harriet F. Heywood of Gloucester, MA in the late 1920’s when she was working as a Brownie Girl Scout troop leader.

See you tomorrow on All Things Fulfilling. If you have an Eagle Eye, you will see something in tomorrow’s blog that you’ve seen in some of my blogs and in my writings. I was pleased when I saw them hanging on the walls unexpectedly in an art space in Breckenridge Colorado when I recently visited.

 

 

Life Stories Altered

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If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders. ~Abigail Van Buren

Today’s narrative is about raising children. The other day I was in the library and picked up a copy of Psychology Today magazine and came across an article called in the October 2015 issue called Crisis U.

Long story short, the article by Hara Estroff Marano was about the “downstream consequences of kids being shielded from failure and adversity all their lives.”

“How does this happen?” You might ask.

There are a lot of psychologists, sociologists and behaviorists looking at this syndrome –  students who get great grades, yet are lacking in skills of taking care of themselves or they are developmentally delayed in their life skills. It happens due to over-involved parents or “helicopter parents.”

An expert, a dean from Sanford University recently appeared on Fox News talking about this very troubling issue facing young adults. Here is his article.

Several winters ago at Colorado Mountain College in a public speaking class, I presented a talk on Helicopter Parenting. I outlined how to  recognize the signs that indicate when parents are over-involved and the results on the behavioral patterns of young adults. I received high accolades from the teacher. She said “I fully convinced her how detrimental this is to the student.”HelicopterParentsIf you have children, I’d suggest you read these articles because a lifetime story can be altered in harmful ways when parents do not allow their children to learn age appropriate lessons (such as coping, resilience and resourcefulness) themselves. It can create a life-long dependency on parents that is unhealthy.

This blog is brought to you by the award-winning author of Gift of a Lifetime: Finding Fulfilling Things in the Unexpected and short stories Lessons of Heart & Soul.