Somewhere Over the Rainbow

Today is Thanksgiving and this year, as I do every year, but even more poignantly this year, I have so very much to be thankful for. For the past 15.5 years, I’ve held the honor of being an owner of dog, my sweet Oliver, who I’ve written about countless times before. He was not a dog to me, but my family, my support, my strength and my constant companion. This morning, because I was unable to last night, I shared on my personal Facebook about his pathway to the Rainbow Bridge, where he plays today, free of pain and discomfort, delighting in all of his favorite foods and toys. The following is my post:

Yesterday, as the sky cleared and the sun began to emerge from the clouds of darkness, you were carried over the Rainbow Bridge, the bridge where you are greeted by the others waiting for you, where you can run, where you are free of pain.
 
As you departed, I held you in my arms as you nestled your body close to mine and I could feel your soft, curly fur and your shallow breaths. For a moment, your eyes fluttered open and gazed into mine and it was then I let you know you were safe and it was okay. For a moment, I could feel your dry nose against my skin and I could still hear the familiar sounds of your breathing I heard for 15 and a half years.
 
Then as you lay before us, we held your paws and each other, as you departed just as we first met. We didn’t say goodbye, but rather see you later, as we know we will.
IMG_4493
 
Oliver (March 10, 2002-November 22, 2017)
“Even when the dark comes crashing through
When you need a friend to carry you
When you’re broken on the ground
You will be found
So let the sun come streaming in
‘Cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again
If you only look around
You will be found.”
Happy Thanksgiving to whomever may be reading this today.
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Every Healing Has a Paw

That day stands out to me like no other. It was May 20, 1997, a warm, humid day, in late Spring. As a newly-minted 9-year-old, it was customary for me to ask the same question each day after school as I approached my mom, who would be waiting for me at the end of the hallway in the school building at just about 3:30pm; how is Grandmom? Since the preceding October, my maternal Grandmother diagnosed with Leukemia, was in and out of the hospital, receiving chemotherapy, shortly going into remission in the Winter, only to experience a relapse in early Spring. Her prognosis was grave, but we were still hopeful as she underwent another round of treatment. The early activities of the day are blurry to me, but I remember arriving home and sitting at the kitchen table with my sister, as we so often did, but this day, the room was filled with silence instead of music radiating from MTV’s Total Request Live. It was a sunny day, the sky a pristine blue, with a gentle warmth in the air, but sadness and fear engulfed my family and I. I remember thinking it was strange, seeing my dad home during the afternoon, watching him sitting at the table, expressionless. We all sat there at the table for awhile, until out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a flash of golden fur from outside, catching it reflecting off the sliding door.

Dog Healing

Merely minutes later, I came to know his name was Darby, a young Yellow Labrador Retriever, owned by a young couple who were fairly new to the neighborhood and unbeknownst to us, living directly behind us.  Before meeting and becoming accustomed to Darby, I hadn’t known much about dogs, except the fact that I believed them to be cute and friendly. My extent of experience with dogs had been reading Clifford books or watching them on TV. In person, I’d never so much as played or pet any dogs – until this moment, that is. That particular day, I was filled with a sadness I’d never truly known, and was unsure how to silence it, or at least alleviate it. Seeing Darby, I asked both my parents, if it would be okay if Hope (my sister) and I went outside to play with him. With their approval, we made our way outside and asked his owners if it would be okay for us to play with him. Within minutes, Darby, Hope and I were running together through our respective backyards with frisbees, laughing and delighting in the cool breeze, our worries quickly slipping away. Sometimes, I’d stop to run my small fingers through his soft, golden mane, or to let him happily lick my arms and face. Seeing his happy, carefree smile filled me with a joy I’d never truly experienced before until that moment; the moment my love of dogs was cultivated. From that moment on, I knew I was meant to be a dog owner. Though I didn’t become one until my 14th birthday, Darby created for me, the ability to love another, canine and human, igniting a healing from a pain no 9-year-old child should ever have to experience.

Dog Quotes             Dog Quotes 2

Looking back, I owe Darby a lot for that day. While he might have only shown up, by doing so, he helped me heal and taught me the meaning of selflessness, of taking life one moment, one laugh and one smile at a time. I’m grateful for that day, because no matter how painful it was, it taught me that “We don’t always need advice. Sometimes all we need is a hand to hold, an ear to listen, and a heart that understands. Sometimes all we need is a dog.”

Paw Prints Heart

 

Enough As You Are

Good Thursday morning, to you! As I’ve mentioned in the past, I follow several journalists and TV anchors who often post motivational or inspirational quotes, many of which deeply resonate with me, more often than not. Today, no exception:

This morning, I awakened to a quote posted by one of my favorite journalists/TV anchor’s, Hoda Kotb, which reads:

“You are enough, not because you did or said or thought or bought or became or created something special, but because you always were.”

This quote resonated with me, because so often I find myself questioning my worth: Did do enough? Did I contribute enough? Did I help in the way I should have? Could I have done more? What am I doing to help others? These thoughts often ruminate inside my mind, but this quote places these worries into perspective: just by being here, we are enough. We’ll never know the magnitude we might have on someone or on their life. It can be solely by our presence, a hug, a squeeze of the hand, a loving smile, a laugh, an acknowledgement in some way, no matter how small. Sometimes, we can comfort others simply by our ability to sit quietly beside someone who might be hurting, or other times, a simple hello or how are you, can brighten someone’s day.

So, if you ever find yourself questioning: am I enough? Always remember, the answer is yes, because even if you might not always see your worth, you are needed and MORE than enough.

You Are Enough

Wearable Words: The LWP Collection

Good afternoon, to you! We’re approaching the end of the week and in conjunction, the third and final blog post in The Little Word Project series I’ve been detailing this week! As promised, this blog post will fully detail the vast collections and products LWP offers. Though I’ve exclusively discussed their bracelets, which is the heart of their company, they also offer several other pieces, which are important to note and share. Also, as I stated in my last post, I’ll be sharing with you today the second LWP bracelet I own and how I came to receive it! Therefore, without further adieu, let’s take a deep “breath” (you’ll see what I mean in the next paragraph) and dive into that very bracelet!

My Second LWP Bracelet – “Breathe”

Given my intrigue and interest in The Little Words Project as a company after first receiving the Confidence bracelet in the prize package I won, I was overjoyed to receive a bracelet from the Beaded White collection with the word – Breathe.

LWP Believe          LWP Bag

The band, as you can see, is encased in Swarovski crystals with pink undertones. To me, the word Breathe was fitting, as I recall years ago while in college taking vocal lessons, my voice teacher informed me of my inconsistent breathing. While observing me sing, he often noted my lack of taking in deep breaths and came to understand that when under stress or when anxious, I tend to breathe inconsistently and can often walk around feeling even greater stress, as a result. Breathing deeply and often, without needing much explanation is crucial to all aspects of our lives, especially when under stress. People often remind each other in these times to remember to breathe. We can often become upset to the point, where our breathing is labored, clouding our ability to effectively communicate. Since receiving this bracelet, I often find myself glancing down at it during my times of stress as a constant, friendly and welcome reminder to do just that – breathe. At times, when stressed or anxious, I can forget to do something so seemingly simple – breathe. During those times when I can feel incapable of doing much else, there is always one thing I can do and that is to take in a deep breath and begin again. Now that I have this bracelet as a constant reminder, it’s a comfort to me. Many, many thanks to the wonderful team at The Little Words Project for their generosity in gifting me this bracelet.

The Little Words Project Collections: As previously noted, the LWP offerings are vast and include the following:

  • Beaded White or Gold

LWP beaded gold     LWP Beaded white

  • And Symbol

LWP and 2

  • Love Symbol

LWP love

  • Leather White or Gold

LWP Leather

  • Woven

LWP woven

  • The Sorority Collection

LWP sorority

  • Bridal Collection

LWP bridal

  • Little Extras (i.e. t-shirts, gift cards, gift wrapping, inspirational booklets, a mystery bracelet, & chokers)

LWP ChokerLWP tshirtLWP booklets

  • Bracelets That Give Back (25% of proceeds donated to designated charities/nonprofit organizations)

LWP Purple Elephant

  • Last Chance (in limited quantities)

LWP last chanc

Note: Choose the color of your bracelet beads, leather/woven/bead material, then choose your word(s).

Words to Chose From: Here are some of the many words you can choose from for your bracelet:

  • Dream
  • Believe
  • Breathe
  • Hope
  • Strength
  • Courage
  • Brave
  • Inspire
  • Fearless
  • Sparkle
  • Smile
  • Good Vibes
  • Blessed
  • Faith
  • My Person
  • Fierce
  • My Family
  • Be Happy
  • Laugh
  • Sister
  • Wanderlust
  • Free Spirit
  • Live
  • Namaste
  • Be Kind
  • Pray
  • Dance
  • Let Go
  • Love
  • Friend

My Favorites: Now that you’re familiar with the overall collections and offerings of LWP, I thought I’d conclude the three-part series by revealing some of my favorites from the product line-up:

We Rise By Lifting Others

Bracelets That Give Back: As I discussed at length in my second post, the Bracelets That Give Back collection deeply resonates with me for more reasons than one. An avid volunteer, firm believer in giving back to others and with a personal connection to one or more of the organizations benefiting from this initiative, this collection affords customers with not only a beautiful bracelet, but also serves as a donation to a worthy cause.

Spread Kindness Quote

Love Symbol Collection: This collection also stands out to me for a variety of reasons. True, genuine, romantic love is something I aspire to. I’ve noted several times on my blog, I have yet to experience it for myself, and for me, love whether romantic, platonic or through family, is a source of contentment and fulfillment. To know, feel, receive and experience love is the greatest gift.

Love Quote

The Words: Many, if not close to all of the words to choose from speaks volumes to me. As someone who has struggled with self-esteem, body-image and self-image issues my entire life, being able to see and wear words such as believe, brave, strength, breathe and courage on my arm, provides me with awareness and comfort. It also serves as a constant, visual reminder of my self-worth and bravery and that I am truly deserving of happiness and achieving my dreams.

Also, I think it is important to note my sister’s name is Hope; which is coincidentally, one of the words as an option for a LWP bracelet. Since birth, Hope has been not only a sister, but my best friend. She and I always say, “Sisters by chance, best friends by choice.”

Hope and I at her wedding:

0309

Well, there you have it! To whomever may be reading, thanks so much for following along with me on this journey as I detailed The Little Words Project! My sincere gratitude goes out to The Little Words Project for their generosity and kindness.

Kind Quote

 

 

“Share It”: Buy a Bracelet, Share the Love

Good Afternoon and welcome back to the second post in the “A Wristful of Words,” series partnering with Little Words Project (LWP). To whomever might be reading, thanks so much for following along on this journey as I profile LWP, a unique, philanthropic jewelry company changing lives one bracelet (and word!) at a time.

LWP logo

In today’s post, I’ll be focusing on just that – philanthropy and specifically how it relates to Little Words Project. Upon first receiving my LWP Confidence bracelet in the mail as a gift from entering the IT Cosmetics contest, I immediately began researching LWP and became enthralled and intrigued with all I discovered. Since my freshman year in high school, I’ve identified myself as an avid volunteer, taking part in many walks, tutoring young students, serving meals and babysitting young children in shelters, as well as host of other activities. To me, serving others and advocating wherever and whenever I can is of the utmost importance to me. To know I may have made a difference in someone’s life, no matter how small, is the ultimate gift and symbol of care.

It Cosmetics

Therefore, one aspect of LWP as a company, which immediately stood out to me is their “Bracelets That Give Back,” where altruism is at the heart of this collection. As detailed on the LWP website (littlewordsproject.com), every other month, LWP highlights a new organization geared towards helping women in various capacities. The chosen organization creates their own exclusive Little Word (such as “Be Strong”, “Confidence“, “Wish“, etc) which is then sold on the LWP website and select retailers (check littlewordsproject.com for a retailer nearest you!). At the end of the partnership year, 25% of total profits are donated to the organizations! Each year, up to 6 organizations are featured, with every bracelet purchase making an impact, no matter the size.

LWP Instructions

Current Organizations (Bracelets That Give Back collection):

LWP Give back

Purple Elephant (“Be Strong”): A non-profit organization changing the way young people think about Alzheimer’s Disease by helping to provide in-home caregiving relief to families whose lives have been impacted while caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s.

LWP Purple Elephant

Look Good Feel Better (“Confidence”): “a free program dedicated to helping cancer patients regain their sense of control, self-esteem and confidence.”

LWP Confidence 2

Power Play (“Girl Power”): “a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the lives of girls in NYC by helping them grow physically, emotionally, and academically stronger.”

LWP power play

She Should Run (“Trailblazer”): “a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the talent pool of future elected female leaders by inspiring women and girls to aspire towards public leadership.”

LWP She Should Run

She’s The First (“Unstoppable”): “a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to educating girls in low-income countries.”

LWP she's the first

Project Glimmer (“Wish”): a nonprofit organization that provides a little piece of hope in the form of a gift to at-risk girls and women.

Project Glimmer

My Personal Account:

In reading the several Little Words chosen by the organizations, you may have noticed I mentioned Confidence, as being one of them, which also happens to be my first LWP bracelet, sent to me by chance. Upon learning about my Confidence bracelet belonging to the Bracelets That Give Back collection, I took it as a sign, realizing that the organization it benefits is of personal meaning to me. The Confidence bracelet benefits Look Good Feel Better, “a free program dedicated to helping cancer patients regain their sense of control, self-esteem and confidence.” It was late October 1996, in the days leading to Halloween. Instead of fixating on the Halloween costume I would wear and candy I would receive and indulge in, my family huddled together as we struggled to take in the reality of my grandmother’s diagnosis. In those days, I remember first hearing the word, Leukemia, as an 8-year-old. To me, it sounded like something foreign, something unwelcome and something I definitely did not want my grandmother to have. Ever since the very early years of my life, I strove to resemble my maternal grandmother, a perfectly coiffed woman with her hair frosted, crimson lips and always in a dress and heels. No matter the situation, she was always dressed in a pristine fashion, ready to take on the day. Seeing her in a vulnerable state, laying in a hospital bed, with the chemotherapy dripping into her arm, the light and smile evaporated from her face. Then one day, my sister, Hope and I decided we would become her “impromptu makeup artists”, helping her embrace her new image, the one who was on the road to recovery. With her new, styled wig (frosted, just as she liked it!), painted nails, and light lipstick, she smiled as we gathered around her, delighting in her new look. Though my grandmother (whose birthday, coincidentally was yesterday, August 20!) passed away a few weeks following my 9th birthday, I’ll never forget the moments she, my sister and I shared, during those days by her bedside in the hospital. Therefore, knowing the very bracelet (Confidence) I received is apart of the Bracelets That Give Back collection and specifically, profiting the Look Good Feel Better organization is a gift in itself and deeply resonates with me.

The Next Blog Post: “Wear It

LWP Offerings

The final post in this three-part series (“Wear It“) will be an insider look at the numerous LWP bracelet collections, plus a few special extras! Check back to discover what my second LWP bracelet is, in addition to learning about all the vast LWP offerings!

Believing in Better Tomorrows

Wherever you might be today, I hope your day is going well and if it’s not, I hope you see the hope and promise of tomorrow, as I try to do on particularly challenging days. As you might know if you’ve read my blog previously, I’m constantly searching for inspiration, even in the most unlikely places. Though, most often, I tend to find inspiring quotes and food for thought on mediums such as Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook and in magazines/books. Relatively often, I noticed fellow “friends” on Facebook and Twitter posting or sharing the quotes and thoughts of SimpleReminders.com. Perhaps you’re already familiar with them and are aware of their consistent posts throughout each day, but if you’re not, they are one site I’ve taken quite a liking to. About two days ago, I took the time to scroll through their Twitter feed, easily becoming enthralled with all they shared.

With that being said, I felt compelled to share it with others, such as fellow readers who might not have seen their posts, and it is my hope that someone might feel as inspired as me after reading some of them (NOTE: Not all are from SimpleReminders.com, but many are):

“The cost of not following your heart, is spending the rest of your life wishing you had.”

“Life is a mural that you create. Every action you take is another brush stroke. Make yours beautiful.”

“True friends are those rare people who come to find you in dark places and lead you back into the light.”

“Be the girl/guy who decided to go for it.”

“Courage starts with showing up and letting ourselves be seen.”

“Flowers grow back, even after they are stepped on. So will I. Resilience.”

“Not everything faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

“Use your eyes to see the needs, and use your talents to meet them.”

“Love is not what you say. Love is what you do.”

Garden Quote

 

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 (mantraband.com). 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:

Mantraband

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.