Little Gifts, Big Heart

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This Christmas was the first I’ve ever spent without my Grandma, but in keeping my promise to her, I celebrated with a lot of love and laughter. It was a beautiful Christmas filled with family, friends, and wonderful gifts.

One of my favorite things about my family is how we all put so much thought into the gifts we give one another. I don’t recall ever receiving a gift I felt was haphazardly chosen or thoughtlessly wrapped. No matter how small, they all mean something and are personal, which makes them that much more special.

My husband in particular puts an incredible amount of thought into the gifts he gives. Not only does he always find the perfect thing, but he is also creative in how he presents his gifts. I never know what to expect and this year was no different.

For a few years now, I’ve been an avid fan of Simon’s Cat. I’ve posted videos here on my blog and shared links on Facebook for this adorable cartoon cat. He cracks me up and I think he’s just the cutest thing! Little did I know, he’s even cuter in person. When I came home from a little Christmas Eve get-together, this is what I saw when I turned on the lights:

Meow! Is there food in here?

Meow! Is there food in here?

Hee hee! Simon’s Cat was on my table and causing mischief in my stocking! Now I know why my husband had to run back into the house before we left for the party. He set the whole thing up because he knew it would make me laugh. The gift itself was wonderful ( I really wanted a plush Simon’s Cat!), but the fact that he went to all the trouble to make it funny means the world to me.

Simon’s Cat is already getting into trouble. By Christmas evening, he found my knitting. I think we’re going to have a lot of fun with this little guy!

Bad Kitty!

Bad Kitty!

If you’ve never “met” Simon’s Cat, here is one of my favorite videos:

Humor aside, my husband also thought to give me something very meaningful. I once wrote about a compass necklace I wear every day (See Finding True North) as it is something that holds some deep significance to me as a traveler, explorer, artist, and human being. In addition, the pendant now has further meaning as it now holds a special memory of my Grandma that was made shortly before she passed away.

After more than a year of daily wear, the chain has weakened and the finish is quite worn. I still love everything about it, but I’ve become increasingly worried about losing it due to snapped chain or jump ring. It was definitely time for a new one and apparently my husband agreed.

During the week leading up to Christmas, he joked that the present I was shaking was something that “sometimes knots together,” so I walked around thinking it was yarn (Ha! I really have knitting on the brain!). When I opened it, I realized he was referring to a chain just like the one he’s had to untangle countless times. My new compass necklace is very similar to the original, but also very different.

A new compass for a new year.

A new compass for a new year.

As I embark on a new year and a new phase of my life, I leave the old compass behind and embrace the new. A thoughtful gift, indeed.

My heartfelt thanks to a man who knows me better than anyone and never ceases to amaze me. I love you.

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c.b.w. 2012

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22 More Moments of Gratitude

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Around this time last year, I was inspired by Cindy Archer to create a list of 22 Moments of Gratitude. With Thanksgiving upon us, I’ve decided to revisit this idea and make another list.  I consider last year’s list to be pretty complete, but it never hurts to consider more things for which to be grateful.

My goal is to create an entirely new list that does not match anything on the previous list, which means some of the really obvious things might be missing (like family and friends).  Don’t worry, I didn’t forget the big stuff, it’s just on a different list.

22 More Moments of Gratitude:

1. There are more books on my shelf than I have time to read. What a beautiful conundrum.

2. My muse that hasn’t let me down all year.

3. I have the courage to experiment with poetry after years of being intimidated.

4. I got to experience the thrill of learning new things like photo editing and knitting.

5. There is a fire in the fireplace and plenty of extra blankets  – I am never cold.

6. I understand the beauty of staying at home and seeing the familiar with a new perspective.

7. How wonderful it is to teach what I love.

8. My shelves have plenty of blank journals waiting for my pen.

9. My determination hasn’t worn off.

10. Inspiration is everywhere and I am seeing it.

11. I am at peace.

12. My paycheck is small, but I don’t worry about money.

13. I still know how to be young at heart (and I’m not afraid to show it).

14. I know the feeling of love.

15. I no longer care how many calories or how much fat is in a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

16. I am happy with how I look, imperfections and all.

17. Experiencing the moment of winning a chosen battle in an unexpected way, (See Reconstructing the Lennon Wall and Clearly, I Will Not Be Silenced).

18. Knowing the feeling of completing a second novel ahead of schedule.

19. Walking to work at the moment of dawn. Watching the sun rise is a beautiful experience, especially on a daily basis (each dawn is different and beautiful in a new way).

20. Watching an old dog play even when he’s tired. It inspires me to never give up on anything.

21. The feeling of hope is never far away.

22. My heart is still beating.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

What are you thankful for this year?

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c.b.w. 2012

Halfway There!

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Today marks the halfway point of NaNoWriMo. Official participants are hopefully near the 25,000 word mark in their novels, while I am hoping to reach my midpoint goal of 7,500 revised words. I hope everyone still has their hair and plenty of caffeine.

There’s still two weeks to go and for some this is a blessing, while for others the road seems a little too long. For all involved, just remember to believe in yourself and don’t give up. Writers more so than others tend to be their own worst critics. Keep that little negative voice silent and knock down the walls she builds.

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c.b.w. 2012

The “Take A Smile” Experiment

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A few weeks ago, I posted about an image I saw on Pinterest of a sign that had a row of smiley face tabs with a caption that read, “Take A Smile,”  (see Free Smiles).  I was so inspired by this project, I decided to make a similar sign and post it at work.

I hung the smiley face invitation on the bulletin board in an area where everyone stops by at least once a day to eat lunch, pull something off the printer, or heat up their coffee in the microwave. For two weeks, the sign remained completely intact. Either no one needed a smile or they simply didn’t know what to make of such a thing!

Then, one morning I walked in to heat up my coffee and I noticed a smiley face tab was missing. Someone finally got brave enough to use the sign as it was intended! I was so excited to see a little piece of joy had migrated to a new place. Three days later, a second smiley face tab went missing. And then this week, another tab was torn from the sign. I guess all we needed was for someone to break the ice!

Three smiley faces have found a new home!

I never said a word about hanging the sign, but I’m pretty sure everyone knows it was my doing.  I have another one ready to go as soon as all the tabs are taken from the current sign.  It’s nice to know something so simple can do so much to brighten someone’s day.

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c.b.w. 2012

Shall We Wander?

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There are so many ways to get lost, yet they all lead to the same thing: discovery.

Go ahead and turn off the GPS.

I’ve been lost while traveling and in random corners of my imagination. Losing my sense of direction always reminds me of the courage I have to venture into the unknown and the strength to find my way back.

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c.b.w. 2012