Celebrating Dogs

As we’re finishing the month of September, we have another great week of celebration in the USA.  The last week of September is known as National Dog week!  Share some love for your furry friends!

Dogs and other pets bring great health benefits to their owners.  If you’ve got a dog you’ve got the opportunity to take a daily walk!  I’ve enjoyed seeing many dogs and their owners out for exercise this past summer.  Dogs are known to bring joy to their owners, lower their stress level, encourage friendships and are often therapeutic for those who are sick or injured.  Dogs know when their owners have had a tough day or are excited and are eager to encourage and sympathize, or be excited with them.

Dogs have a zest for life that is undeniable.  From panting tongue to wagging tail, a dog’s excitement to walk, eat, sleep and be with humans in contagious.

Dogs are great friends, they don’t ignore each other but rather always greet each other cheerfully.

Dogs are inquisitive.  They continue to try to dig that hole, find that bone, smell that smell, chase that squirrel and discover more about people visitors in “their” home.

Although dogs don’t have the vocal cords that we humans have, they do communicate well with us.  However, that communication is not in the form of judgment, hatred or dislike.  Dogs have the amazing ability to love unconditionally, always encourage and consistently be supportive of their owners.

We humans would be wise to pay more attention to and learn from our furry friends.  How will you celebrate the joy and life your dog brings to your life? Share what you have learned from your furry friend, or how they have improved your life below.

Know Thyself

At some point in time everyone asks what their purpose is, what their value is, and what their life means.  The only way you can truly answer these questions is by spending time with yourself! Whether you’ve made some decisions and don’t like how things are going, or you’ve decided to start down a new path, one great way to learn about yourself is through being creative.  Today’s three activities will help you on your journey of discovery.

Take a creative class:  There are tons of classes you can take to encourage your creativity.  Many local high schools and colleges offer classes (from 1-6 sessions) throughout the year that can help you learn more about beading, ceramics, painting, drawings, mosaics, stained glass, computers, web design, cooking, crocheting, gardening, sewing, music, dance, photography, spirituality, sports and more.  Stores offer classes as well, including craft stores like Michaels and JoAnn’s.

Spend time alone/in nature:  Spending time alone, exercising, walking or just sitting in nature can help you connect with the feelings, thoughts, experiences and people who are in your life.  Daily/weekly alone time helps you to process and gain insights into yourself and your life.  This is a great time to journal or draw.

Do your passion:  If you have a hobby like knitting sweaters, playing with kids, painting, wood working or something else that you enjoy doing but don’t currently do as a source of income, investing time in this activity will help you reconnect with the you that gets buried beneath kids, work, finances and life.  Set aside weekly time to participate in this activity.

No matter how much you do you will never truly connect with yourself unless you do some thinking and contemplation while you’re doing these activities or after.  Using a journal is a great way to record your adventures and discoveries.  If you aren’t investing time in reconnecting with yourself, not only will your life not be as satisfying as it could be, others will suffer because you don’t take time for yourself.

What will you do this week to spend time with yourself doing something you enjoy?  Share below!

The Gift of a Flower

One of life’s great blessings are flowers.  This week in the USA is National Flower week.  And in honor we’re going to talk about flower arranging.

Size: Flowers come in all different sizes.  You could do something simple like all large sunflowers, all medium sized daisies, or all small sweet peas or baby’s breath, keeping the flowers all the same size.  Or you could pick one type of flower you want to highlight and add accent flowers to the arrangement.  One of the most famous examples is putting roses with baby’s breath.

Color: Color is such an amazing tool to use when designing your arrangement.  You can use flowers of all the same color, you can use autumn colors (orange, red, yellow), holiday colors (red, white, blue), or flowers that match the event (pink for girl baby shower).   You can also go with classic arrangements like one color flower (red tulips) matched with white baby’s breath, or one color flower matched with green sprigs of ferns or another leafy plant.

Other elements: Consider adding other things beside flowers to your arrangements.  Ideas include candles, berries, leaves, seashells, eucalyptus, bamboo, grasses, sticks, ivy, ferns, ribbon and more to add variety and texture.  Also, the vase or display tool is key.  Simple, traditional clear glass vases work well or you can get more creative with your display. Try using pumpkins or other hollowed-out vegetables, or covering your container with wrapping paper.  Also consider the impression that tall flowers (flowers with long stems) versus flowers with shorter stems in a shorter container will give you.

Arranging ideas: Visit any online flower shops (1800 flowers, FTD, proflowers, teleflora), Michaels, Jo-Ann’s and other craft stores (and their websites), and Google “flower arranging” (or something more specific) for great ideas.

If you’ve got a blog that shares about flower arranging, weddings, or home decor, share your site (or thoughts) below!

Celebrate Fall!

Today is the first day of Autumn here in the USA.  To celebrate, let’s hold an Autumn Party!

Snacks:  Family Fun Magazine  has a great selection of fun fall snacks including acorn dough nuts, apple pie dip, and monster mash (avocado dip).  Quesadillas, potato dishes (twice baked, mashed, fried etc) and corn dishes also remind us of fall.

Location: under trees brightly colored with orange, red and yellow leaves!  Fall is a great time for a picnic in a park or just an evening on your deck.

Decorations: for those of you who insist on being inside, fall decorations are necessary.  Many craft and fabric stores will have leaf garlands you can purchase in festive fall colors.  Pumpkins, both decorated (painted (get your kids involved!)) and showing off their traditional orange colors are essential for fall parties.

On the table: we can’t forget about plates, centerpieces and table cloths/runners.  To do something a little simpler, you could use a simple white tablecloth and purchase a table runner with a leaf pattern on it, as well as white or red plates, with either clear or white cups.  If you want to do something a little different you could get black or orange plates (out for Halloween) as well as cups that match or are the other color.  A great centerpiece are fall flowers, candles, and/or fall fruits and vegetables.

Activities: there are tons of great activities for all ages in the fall.  Physical activities include (touch) football, Frisbee, or soccer.  Other activities include painting pumpkins or creating jack-o-lanterns, make scarecrows and raking leaf piles to play in.

Share your ideas for an Autumn party below!

Sweet Therapy

Before the fall is here, let’s talk about a favorite treat of the summer and one of “therapy’s” favorite foods: Ice Cream!  Although many psychologist, psychiatrists, doctors and others suggest other modes of therapy and relaxation, I do believe ice cream will remain as one of many people’s favorite relaxation, eat-after-breakups, eat-after-bad-day-at-work or tough day endings.  What makes ice cream so amazing?

Ice cream is personal: You pick your flavor(s) of choice.  Maybe you’re a strawberry and cookie dough lover.  Maybe you prefer chocolate and coconut.  Maybe you like something like Rocky Road or Moose Tracks with extra bits of flavor in it.  Or maybe just simple and amazing Vanilla does it for you!

Ice cream is flexible:  Maybe you feel like whipped cream today or maybe cherries or bananas. Perhaps your day was so tough you just go straight for the carton without toppings.  How about a cone or in a cup instead of a bowl?

Ice cream is cool: Typically after a frustrating or tough day, you’re looking to cool off.  Ice cream is not only sweet, it’s also cool!  It’s more satisfying than a soda or cool water, and feels more rewarding than the delicious salad you’re going to have afterward (if you have room).

Ice cream is sharable: Although many will object that there is no way they will be sharing their ice cream after that tough day, maybe sharing that ice cream is a good idea.  Talking with someone about what happened and getting another perspective is usually beneficial (no judgment allowed though!).  You also are now sharing the deliciousness and amazing experience of eating ice cream with someone else.  Many things are just better with someone else whether it’s a good friend, significant other or family member.

Share your favorite ice cream and toppings below!

For the Teacher

I’m sure if you’ve got kids they’re well back into the routine and challenge of school.  And what elementary school aged kid doesn’t love to bring their teachers dandelions or other flowers they find outside as presents?  Here are some creative, yet simple, gift ideas for you and your kids.

Food: every teacher loves food.  If you go to an apple orchard and go apple picking (I’ll be writing about that soon!), bring your teacher an apple from your trip.  If one of the child’s parents love to bake, next time they make cookies, or muffins, bring the teacher a few (but not a lot).  Surprising the teacher with food is a kind idea, but don’t go overboard and give them a whole batch of cookies or a bag of apples. (Make sure you know the teacher’s allergies before giving nuts or fresh fruit (cantaloupe etc)).  Also, if you had a home garden over the summer, bringing in home-grown vegetables is a great idea!

Seasonal decorations: many teachers love to put a few seasonal decorations around their room.  A small, child-decorated pumpkin, a cute homemade snowman or snowflakes, something with flowers, and something beachy or vacation related for example.

Desk things: every teacher has pens, papers and other things they keep at their desk.  Visit a dollar store near you and purchase a desktop (upright) pencil holder like this for your child to decorate for their teacher. Another item many people use are bookends, which children could easily cover with paper and decorate.

Have you child write an adventure story about the teacher.  Encourage them to ask for help on spelling, reinforcing what they’re learning at school.  Not only will the teacher appreciate the thought, but they’ll also be impressed by your child practicing their writing and spelling.

Share your ideas for great teacher gifts below (and if you’re a teacher share the best gifts you’ve ever received).

The Encouragement Revolution

Sunday was the National Day of Encouragement in the USA.  Max Lucado said that this is a “day to bring loving affirmation to those around us.”  Big and small, old and young, religious or not, everyone needs encouragement.  I invite you to read my suggestions for encouraging others, and share your suggestions below too!

  • Compliment someone
  • Encourage someone
  • Support someone
  • Help someone with a project they’re doing
  • Double the tip for your waiter/waitress (or give them extra)
  • Take time to actually listen to someone, instead of brushing them and their story off
  • Hold the door for someone
  • Give someone a gift
  • Bring an extra snack or piece of fruit to share with someone
  • Do what is asked without complaining

I want to start an encouragement revolution.  Will you join me?