Inspiration by the Minute

It’s a beautiful day, weather-wise here in the suburbs of Philadelphia and has been for the past several days, much to my delight. There is a difference in the air, demeanor of my fellow neighbors and beyond, when the weather is warm, sunny and pleasant in comparison to cold, blustery and dreary. With that being said, each day and nearly each minute, I find something, no matter how minuscule to be inspired by or at least provoke a consideration or stream of thoughts within my mind. This past weekend, on a trip to Hallmark to purchase some holiday cards as I browsed through the store, several bits of merchandise caught my eye and had me enraptured for several moments. Unfortunately without being able to purchase all of them, I took advantage of the next best thing and snapped some quick photos from my iPhone, hoping to recall and remember them the next time I’m in need of inspiration or food for thought.

Taking in this aforementioned merchandise, I thought, why not share this find with others? So with that, I give you, the photos I took this weekend of the Hallmark merchandise I spotted in-store:

Hallmark photo                    Hallmark photo 2

Hallmark photo 3

Hallmark photo 4

Also, several months ago, I spotted a company on Facebook whose merchandise and overall initiative caught my eye: Mantraband ( If you’re not familiar with them, they are a company producing inspirational jewelry (bracelets and necklaces). Hailing from California, these bracelets and necklaces are available in countless different inspirational “mantras” or quotes, arranged on their website according to category (i.e. happiness, love peace, strength and journey) They are also available for purchase in Hallmark stores (I spotted them by the checkout counter!). Necklaces are the newest addition to their lineup and are as beautiful as the bracelets. They are extremely active on social media, such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram and are always hosting giveaways. Speaking of giveaways, back in January, I was announced the winner of one of their Facebook contests where they asked followers to submit their favorite mantras, or quotes. My prize was the opportunity to choose any Mantraband bracelet I’d like. Here is my choice:


The “Brave” mantra in particular resonated with me and actually, I took the cardboard portion and posted it on my refrigerator for easy reference and inspiration. Each mantra is imprinted on the outside of the small cuff bracelet, so it is easy to see and refer to at any given time.

One of my other favorite means of inspiration are books and the small, but poignant quotes or phrases I seem to come across every so often. Most recently, I spotted one in one of the novels I read and the quote, from Nora Ephron, the late director and writer, stood out to me and has stuck in my mind ever since. It is a quote with much personal meaning to me and I often remind myself of it when I feel overwhelmed by personal faults or worries and snapped a photo for easy reference:

Book Quote

Anyhow, that’s all the inspiration I have for you today, but I do hope it was able to provide you at least with a fresh perspective, insight and even the momentum you might need on this mid-week day.


An Unlikely Teacher: Lessons From Oliver

Hello there, friends! I hope this week is going well thus far, as we’ve already made it to mid-week! A couple days ago, after I retrieved the mail, I noticed a seasonal catalog from Hallmark. Now anyone who knows me, is aware that I am quite a big fan of Hallmark stores, in general. I’ve been known to spend significant amounts of time perusing the aisles, reading cards (in particular, the sentimental, meaningful “Between You & Me” line), and simply enjoying the ambiance of the store. To me, Hallmark stores often feel like a comforting blanket, filled with trinkets, beautiful words and an aura of a homelike comfort. When I’m in Hallmark, I am at peace, similar to the sentiments I experience while in a bookstore or library.


Perhaps I am overly enthusiastic about Hallmark, but in particular, as I leafed through this catalog, something just so happened to catch my eye, but more importantly, heart. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been fond of quotes. Many of them speak to me and I’ll often reread the quotes I’ve pinned on my Pinterest page (@Stylinstar53 is my name on there, for those of you who might have similar interests, or are curious as about what I’ve pinned). Many of them are comprised of thoughts I could never imagine conjuring myself and often provide me with hope, strength, courage and comfort, knowing that tomorrow can be filled with promise and triumph and that there is always an upside to situations which seem unsolvable. I’d like to share with you a quote I stumbled across in the catalog which is available for purchase on a large canvas:

Taken from the Hallmark Catalog:

My dog taught me everything I need to know. It’s okay sometimes to just eat and sleep. When you fall down, get back up, shake it off, forget about it and go on. Be very brave no matter your size. Make your own fun. Unleash your talents. Learn new tricks no matter your age. Make new friends. Sniff out opportunities. Chase after your dreams. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them. At the end of the day, it is best to snuggle no matter what has happened. Everyday is a brand new day, just be happy!”

As I read this quote, I felt a kaleidoscope of emotions. A part of me wanted to shed a tear, while the other part of me wanted to smile and hold Oliver, my dog and friend tight and relish in his carefree nature. Reading this, I realized, I owe a lot to Oliver. He truly has taught me life lessons I know I’ll never forget, or take for granted. Saying this, I realize sometimes I do take him for granted. Too many times, I’ve taken my frustrations out on him, shooing him away when all he wanted was love, or to play. Often times, I am too distracted by my own disappointments or frustrations within myself to take the time to stop, pet him and simply enjoy his warm body snuggled against me as I watch TV or read. He has taught me resilience when all hope seems to have been lost. What he experienced just over a year ago, fighting for his life with all the courage and strength he could summon, given the surgical error on part of the veterinarian, was something many other dogs and humans could never have successfully weathered. Though, Oliver on the other hand, rebounded. He battled through the pain, discomfort, and emotions and triumphed. He shows me that anything is possible with the right mindset and willpower. Even when I feel discouraged and fixated on my appearance, believing I am inadequate, still he rushes over to greet me, tail wagging and eager to play. It doesn’t matter if my hair is knotted, my lip is cut, or if a blemish has erupted on my chin, to Oliver, I’m just me, Melissa, someone to play with and share meals, laughs and love. He teaches me to accept others for who they are, no matter their appearance, no matter if they don’t always say the things I’d like them to. Oliver has helped me understand that everybody has different ways of both giving and receiving love.

Oliver sofa

Sometimes the greatest lessons we learn are not those taught in a classroom or a book, but by the unlikeliest creatures or canines, for that matter. I’m thankful for Oliver and all that he is, all that he does. Each day upon my awakening, I look for him, trusting he will be there, silently teaching me lessons each day, letting me love him the way I can and receiving his love in countless ways.

Oliver alone

Thank you, Hallmark for reminding me of all I have to be grateful for, even when I get distracted by all that seems to be missing in my life. There is always a lesson to be learned and someone/something to be appreciated and thankful for.