Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Made with Love

 “…And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”
The Beatles
As I prepare for the holiday season, I am making it a point to think of my friend Ann. A few years ago, Ann decided she wasn’t going to do her usual holiday cookie baking. I have to tell you, Ann is not the normal cookie baker, she is a cookie-baking machine who makes over 2000 cookies to give to those on her cookie list. I am one of the fortunate people on this list and when she told me she was dropping the cookies, I tried to give her my best missing-cookies-already encouragement. You see, she was struggling with the overwhelming feelings of what one “thinks” they must do during this time of the year⎯ holiday expectations. Sound familiar?

After that particular cookie-less holiday season, Ann confided that she missed the baking so much it had not even seemed like Christmas, and she hadn’t realized how much the baking meant to her. She mentioned the pleasure she feels in the whole process⎯ baking the cookies, packing them in gift boxes and personally handing them out.

As holidays have come and gone since the cookie-less Christmas, Ann has not missed a minute of cookie-baking frenzy since. She pares down and adjusts everything else she does during this time with her intention being on the pure enjoyment of doing what she loves⎯baking her cookies off.

Ann made the choice and allowed space in her life to share what she loves with others. In doing so, Ann makes these cookies with love, and it is this love she is able to take in return exponentially as everyone expresses their gratitude for having received her wonderful gift. I’m holding on to Ann’s commitment during this holiday season. If my intention is not love felt, perhaps it is just not worth doing? Whether it is baking, decorating, gifting or whatever it is you find yourself doing this holiday season, join me, think of Ann and ask yourself, “Is it made with love?”

Photo courtesy of MITCH3LL
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Occupy Gratitude

The holidays are rapidly approaching. Everywhere we look we see the ads and enticements to buy, buy, buy. I ask, why, why, why? Does anyone really need one more thing? Oh, but it is such a deal⎯really? What’s in your wallet? Not as much as there used to be I would venture to guess.

Instead of the frenzied focus on what I think I should be doing this holiday season. My focus will be intent on occupying a state of gratitude. How will I do this…
  • Make it personal⎯no quick thrown out there, “Thank-you.” But an eye locking, smile on my face, “THANK-you.” If that person happens to work in retail and have a name badge on then my thank you will include their name, which I try to do anyway, because it let's people know that I’m not overlooking the fact that I am talking to another person.
  • Make it a celebration⎯by celebrating those in my life who help make my life easier. I’ll make sure I do something special for my garbage and recycle guys, my mail carrier and newspaper delivery people⎯oh, and I can’t forget my hair stylist who helps me feel and look my best, and then there’s…
  • Make each day a gratitude filled day⎯by letting people know just how grateful I am for what they do, who they are or by the fact they are simply a part of my life.
I intend to inhabit gratitude. How about you⎯will you be able to find space in your wallet to dole out some gratitude? Come along with me and occupy gratitude this holiday season. You will be grateful you did.


Photo courtesy of downing.amanda
© Copyright 2010 Michelle Clark

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What Would Scooby Do?

About ten years ago I had an unexpected visit from my next-door neighbor boys. Brothers Taylor and Greg had overheard their parents talking about my husband’s cancer issues and decided to do something about it. They baked a one-layer cake, and not just any cake; it was one of those very special Hasbro Easy-Bake Oven cakes that are about five inches across and half and inch high. Smack dab right in the middle of the chocolate frosting sat a crazy eyed, three-inch bobble-head Scooby-Doo with a big smile on his face. Of course his head bobbed uncontrollably up and down as the boys handed me their gift.

For those who do not know Scooby-Doo, I shall try to enlighten you. Scooby is a talking Great Dane cartoon character that showed up on our televisions in 1969. As a matter of fact, he still has quite a following today. He was known for his goofiness, being afraid of most things and pronouncing more R's than even a dog has a right to.

Taylor and Greg had asked their mom if they could bake a cake and include their favorite little bobble head. I accepted this lopsided, funny looking cake with great surprise. It was such a sweet and loving thing for these children, ages 9 and 7, to do. They had no idea how much it touched my heart. After a few days, I asked their mom if I could give them their Scooby back. She explained the whole story to me and how important it was for them to give me something they really loved.

Nearly ten years later, I am still looking at that silly looking dog. He is always a part of my basket of special mementos and sometimes sits by the side of my bed if I need an extra Scooby smile to hit me first thing in the morning and last thing at night. While he nods yes to everything, he is a wise old dog. He knows how much a smile and a nod can mean and never ceases to please. When I am feeling a bit off with the world, I can always count on Scooby because I know just what he would do⎯nod his head, smile and remind me of two little boys and the love they shared with me that day.

Sometimes all we need is what we have. Look around⎯what gives you a good feeling you can hold onto? Is it time to share something you love with someone in need?

Scooby-Doo Licensed by Hanna-Barbara Productions
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark

Monday, November 7, 2011

Looking Ahead

When I learned to snow ski many years ago, one important fact stuck in my mind and has carried over into other aspects of my life⎯look ahead to where you want to go. That doesn’t mean just immediately in front of you, but further out so you may anticipate your moves and your needs. Funny thing is, my ski instructors were spot on. If I wasn’t looking out to where I wanted to go, I would end up doing a face plant, yard sale, or better yet, looking at a tree rather up close and personal.

For those of you who do not ski:

Face plant⎯usually happens when I am only looking off the tips of my skis and not down the slope. Plowing ahead at full speed without anticipating where you are going is not necessarily going to get you where you want to go...

Yard Sale⎯off balance at high speeds tends to scatter your gear all over the place. Once your body comes to a halt and you are able to assess the damage to person and gear you must make adjustments; otherwise, the same thing will happen over and over as long as you continue to be off balance...

Tree Hugging⎯it amazes me how I end up here, but if I am more focused on what I don’t want to have happen, it happens anyway. Hmm!

Whether biking, running, swimming, skiing or trying to negotiate the twists and turns of my life, I find I must look ahead to where I want to go. We are all guilty of taking a glance back once in awhile, but the moment my head turns to look back, my balance is off and I am out of control⎯which may send me in a tumble, impede my momentum and perhaps put a stop to my forward motion.

It is up to me to be aware of those times when I am not looking ahead. It can be scary looking down a steep slope, but I know I must do it anyway in order for me to get to where I want to go. After all, when I am looking ahead, I am looking out to my future. What are you looking at?

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Thorne
© Copyright 2011 Michelle Clark