Sunday, December 29, 2013

Newsflash! Loyalty has an expiration date!! Is it time for some of your relationships to get tossed?

Loyalty is high on my values list. I consider myself a loyal person. I wear that definition with pride. When asked who and what I am…..loyal is always a word I use as a descriptor. I am friends still with my very 1st best friend and many others from my childhood days…..married 21 years……I show up when I say I will for milestones in the lives of others because being loyal is a verb. It requires action, not just words.
As the year winds down and the calendar points us to a reflective and planful place it’s natural to consider the relationships in your life and make some decisions around with whom and how you enter the New Year. So while thinking of this for my own self I had to revisit the definition of loyalty.
loy·al adjective
1.    giving or showing firm and constant support or
allegiance to a person or institution.
loy·al·ty noun
1.    the quality of being loyal to someone or something
After pondering over this definition and careful consideration of how many times this quality and value has served me, I have to be honest with myself on how many times it has done me in as well. See, there is something missing from the definition…….

Loyalty has an expiration date. Like anything else that spoils…..
If left out for too long it will and should go bad.

Yep, I said it. And it is tough to face. If you are like me and value tradition, and things being done because they “are the right thing to do” it may be tough for you as well. The cloak of loyalty you’ve been wearing could be toxic to your mental health.

Not one to give up easily I am not hanging up my loyalty coat of arms. Oh no. In preparation for the New Year I am washing it out with the added definition in the rinse cycle.

For years I have shrugged off the comments: You've changed. Go ‘head with your bougie self.
All things said in jest, but with just enough salt to sting a wound. And then there are the actions…..can’t keep their word. No calls unless in need of something. No response to good things in your life but full action when bad things are going on elsewhere. Finding yourself in places and mental spaces that you would not be in…ever….except for loyalty.

But how do you shake off a relationship that your very being tells you to be loyal to? Family strings? Time invested? Something you’ve always done….well….because you are loyal?
And I don’t mean one bad moment, or crazy night….I mean a habitual interaction….you know, the one where you can predict how it’s going to go even when your heart is hopeful it will be like before……waaaay before…..


I don’t write this thinking I have the answer. In fact, I know I don’t. But I am suggesting that if any of this rings true for you, take a minute to digest the idea that the unfettered loyalty freely given to some, the loyalty you are so proud to share, may in fact be expired. What was good for you once, is toxic, and doing you harm. Perhaps you cannot give it up completely, but examine it, and know exactly what it is. Your energy, love and loyalty should be a treasured gift that is exchanged back and forth often in your relationships. If it’s not, you may have to check the expiration date on that relationship. Why are you allowing that to happen? Is it any good for you? Giving yourself permission to redirect your energy will allow you to be even more present in the relationships that are good for you.....sustaining, and helping you grow. 
The only loyalty that should never expire is that which you give yourself. Real talk!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

5 Tips for a successful holiday gift return

Ok, Christmas is over and Uncle John still thinks Tommy is 7 not 13........the footy pj's are a no go......RETURN! Rather it be the wrong size, style, or color...millions of things are going back! No receipt? Not sure where it came from? And.....well...you don't want to hurt Auntie's feeling by asking so you are gonna chance it........here are a few tips to get you ready to have the best possible outcome and experience at the same time:

1. Return now! Yep, today! I know the lines are crazy...tempers may be flaring....but retail stores are prepped and ready for returns and your best chance of a successful return are the 3-5 days immediately after the holiday.

2. Know the policy! This is easy....if you are reading this you are online so.....google the store and visit their site for exact return info. Keep in mind these policies have been in place for a while and you may not like some of these but that should be considered at the time of purchase......not at the time of return.

3. A receipt, gift receipt, box, tag......BRING IT! Something that proves it really came from the store you are returning it to. Returns create a loss for some businesses and it is not good karma to sneak back an item from one place to another. Just saying

4. Yep....that's the price! Shut your mouth and say it ain't so! Those footy pj's were only 4.99 and that's what you will be getting as a credit. I know the tag says 9.99 but they have been 50% off for weeks. Expect to get the lowest price without a receipt and know that the stores didn't just pull a price out of nowhere.......prices have been pre-programmed for weeks now and with a line out the door folks aren't thinking about how to give you a terrible time. The truth is......the gift giver got a deal....or regifted you something from last year. Be prepared for that possibility and remember....it really is the thought that counts.

5. Finally and most importantly..........BE NICE!! While in line and in your one on one transaction at the return counter being nice makes a difference. It won't change the policy but it will change the experience. Keep in mind there may be little stock....you may need to get a credit and come back when the stock is better. The store may be messy......hundreds of folks rushing through......none of this is the clerk behind the counter's fault. That person is there to make a quick and painless return. If that isn't what's happening calmly ask for a supervisor. The goal is to move the line so that's what they will be trying to do. Loud voices and demands usually end up with an even crummier outcome than where you started and while the clerk should not  respond to meanness, the folks in line behind you just may. So...try to start and finish in a happy place!

Finally.....can't return it? No worries....you can regift it to Cousin Jenny next year and let her figure it out!
Be merry...........happy returns!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Fantastic under $10! Chalkprint hack!

Ok so this is gonna be quick and easy! It's a chalk print hack! I love it! It is cheap and oh so glam!

So, I am almost done decking the halls and I am thinking I still need a lil' sumthin sumthin! Y'all know I love Santa and he is all over but I needed something for me....to remind me of the reason we celebrate. One thing about the decorations....some people do it for their guests....I do it for me! Nothing like a cup of coffee and the glimmer of Christmas lights and your house all aglow! LOVE IT! OK, so.......back to the hack!

I needed a lil something else and I wanted a chalk print. But so little time and with Christmas just 6 days away I can't really break the bank on more decor. So......check out this under $10 hack!

1st.....start with a thrift shop frame! Score! I got this huge one for $2! OMG! Yep yep! (For the record......it has been in my garage for 2 years now but I knew it would come in handy one day) You can grab one or use a pic you currently have or....wait for it......use the school project foam core for $1.99. Cheap is key!


Sad right? lol.  OK, next....google free chalk print or go to pintrest.......find one you like. (hint.....if you are searching for longer than 5 minutes you need help! Make a decision! Did you not see me say only 6 days til Christmas???) OK....I found one with the lyrics to Come Let Us Adore Him  which is exactly the message I want to see in the morning when I wake up!! I got mine from simplyklassichome.com.

Here is where you make it fab! Send this print to Staples to be printed as a architecture print! I printed it in the largest size.....3 by 4 feet! Woop! I used a coupon and picked it up in store.  Perfect because I had to get a stylus for my girl's stocking so....knocked that out of the way too!  Total for the print...$7.06

Now....I trimmed the print, pulled off the backing on the cheap frame...added a lil windex and we are rollin! 
I did not work too hard on the back because I will replace this after Christmas with a new print! It really looks like I slaved over a chalk board....heehee!
Can you say....LOVE! Here she is! 

I am thrilled with this addition to my holiday decor! Shout out to my festive co-worker Erin for printing one of these for her office door. The possibilities are endless. I have used this type of print out from Staples for 2 other projects...the key is to remember. Ok....get at it...and Merry Christmas!!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Of course Santa is real!!

All this talk about Santa has me fired up! Is he real? Is he white? Does it matter? Is it wrong to lie to children?........................Hold up! Wait one minute….

I have loved Santa for as long as I can remember. Late night rides in the car to wealthier neighborhoods to see them all decked out in lights…..sitting on his lap and critiquing his attire….. “his beard was not real Mom, he must be a helper.” Sending letters to the North Pole, visiting small town chatz like Smithville or Storybook land to see glassed off houses with moving puppets doing Christmas chores! I LOVE IT ALL!
I had Christmas heartbreak early in life when our house was robbed and although there was still quite a showing under the tree that year, my most longed for item was missing! How could Santa make a mistake!!  “They took it in the robbery!!” my Mom shared, and with that…….the cat was out of the bag! My heart sunk for a bit….but then I marveled at the lengths my single Mother would go to add joy to her precocious daughter’s life.  My older siblings were more indifferent but even they couldn't help but enjoy my Santa infatuation! We may not have much under the tree but we have SPIRIT!! My love for Santa grew.

As an adult, we fill our home with brown Santas. Yep! Ones that look more like the people that are actually buying the gifts in our house. Early on we made them because they weren't available in stores, now…they are readily available. While the Santas in my home are brown, I don’t discriminate!! I love all Santas……especially ones that have a twinkle in their eye!  I've never felt that it was a big commercial ploy or racial inequity or religious slight to love Santa…..it was and is……just fun!

So when people ask if Santa is real…or why do you love him soo much….I tell them this story:
20 years ago in the ICU ward of The National Institute of Health I sat with my son on Christmas Eve. We had been in the hospital already for 4 months. He had had a very invasive surgery and he was hurting bad. His little face was mean and each tear he cried I cried a thousand more. I set up a pitiful drugstore tree on his hospital bed table. This was gonna be a Christmas heartbreak because we lived in a different state than the hospital he was in. This illness was wreaking havoc on not only his body, but our budget and work life.  Daddy wasn’t gonna be able to make the 3 hour trek until Christmas morning and I was not able to leave the hospital so…..no gifts under the tree when he woke up. Such a small thing to worry about while dealing with a life threatening illness, but it saddened me nonetheless.
I popped out of the ICU to visit the family room and chat with a Dad who was worrying over his wife who was gravely ill. He was a wealthy business man with two small beautiful children. We laughed, we cried, and we prayed for a good holiday and healthier times.
Christmas morning came and low and behold there were a few gifts under that raggedy tree on the table. A note read, “these are from Santa….Daddy is bringing more” WOW WOW WOW!


We struggled through our walk around the ICU later that morning. When we got to the gentleman’s wife’s bed…it was empty. A nurse pulled me aside….she didn’t make it. Her husband, in the hardest time of his life, grabbed some presents while shopping earlier for his own children…. for our son. A stranger. Even in his own saddness, he gave a bit of joy. 
That is the Santa I love. The idea that a joy can be shared at a time when a small bit of joy can change your day, change your life! A note in a card from a friend you haven’t heard from in a while…..folks pulling tags from a giving tree and really shopping for that stranger……it’s about giving. I know that you don’t need Santa for that…….and I know and celebrate the real meaning of Christmas as the birth of baby Jesus.

But a little of Santa’s sparkle is so needed in this time that we are in….now more than ever! That kindness showered on my family changed me. I have tried in every way to pay it forward.  Is Santa real? We don’t even ask that question around here! He’s in our heart! And that is real talk! 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Card Tree!

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! It's my favorite time of year! And one of my favorite things is getting and sending Christmas cards. In this day and age of FB and Instagram....nothing like a good old fashioned card! My daughter and I give them awards...funniest, best photo, most bling.....and who gets the best position on the Christmas card tree! That's right! You have to have somewhere great to display all of the wonderful cards....it's like a lil bit of Christmas magic in an envelope!

So....here is my simple....almost free....but totally glam (can you tell I love it?) instructions for a Christmas Card tree of your own! Make it now so as the cards roll in you can clip and go! Woop!

OK....1st......why buy when you can pick? One bag full of pine-cones is needed for this job. Also, you will need a very heavy base container. I use this fab blown glass hurricane. Now......this thing is heavy! but...it has a secret...... it used to be an iced tea dispenser! HA! She sprang a leak and I took her apart and turn her lil hole around back......nobody needs to know about her past!

Add your branches......Make sure a few pieces are sturdy!

OK, OK.......she is coming together. I fill it with the pine-cones but this is not a heavy filler.....so again...be sure your base can handle the branches no matter what you use as filler! OK...let's put her in her rightful home.....

OMG she looks so stinkin cute on Sally the Sassy Red Sidepiece! A few things to note....I hang a few ornaments I especially love from this tree. I also use mini glitter clothespins as my hanging device. These add some bling too! When you start getting a ton of cards.....one clothespin for two cards...front and back! love it! With Sally's mirror...every card gets their chance to shine! So here she is waiting to be filled.....and here she is from last year filled up and primed for party! 
LOVE LOVE LOVE HER!

OK.....so now that you see how cheap and easy it is....go ahead and get started! I am running to check the mail.....gotta see if any cards are here yet! Real talk....oh, and don't be shy....pin it...share it...tweet it! And if you are really loving it...leave a comment!