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:
Note: This is the first blog post of a three-part series, which will continue through the week (identified as “Believe It” – Blog Post #1, “Share It” – Blog Post #2, “Wear It” – Blog Post #3) Please check back for the two other posts detailing the company (Little Words Project) and my experiences with them.
Little Words Project “Believe It” – Blog Post #1
Since childhood, jewelry has always stood out to me. Not only is jewelry something to adorn myself with, but it is of much personal meaning. In my early childhood years, I can recall accumulating shoeboxes and shoeboxes full of costume jewelry, filling my arms with charm bracelets, character necklaces, and beyond. More importantly, the jewelry I wear and choose has evolved through the years as a means of communication and self-expression. Some of the jewelry I own can take me back to poignant moments in my life, such as my graduation from college, my first professional job, and my sister’s wedding. Therefore, one frigid afternoon this past Winter, I unexpectedly received a special delivery in the mail which proved to impact me on levels beyond my expectations.
It was a day this past Winter season filled with much sadness and reflection. The job where I’d been employed for several months dramatically came to an abrupt end. With that being said, I was left feeling at a loss, contemplating and wondering where my life path would take me. Lacking confidence and courage at that moment, I heard a knock at the door and reluctantly made my way to open it. A small brown box sat outside my doorstep, with my name imprinted on the front. Unsure as to what it was, given I was not expecting a delivery, I carefully opened it and revealed a surprise gift from one of my favorite cosmetic companies, IT Cosmetics and another small box with a beautiful, sparkling bracelet, which read: Confidence in block letters. A couple weeks prior, I’d entered a contest, not anticipating a win, and hadn’t received a winner notification. Therefore, that afternoon, the delivery came as a surprise, a much-needed and appreciated gift at that moment, when life felt particularly difficult and near impossible to navigate. Though I was excited to have won a small jar of an IT Cosmetics cream, I was more intrigued by the bracelet and interpreted it as a sign. For me, confidence has always been a trait to aspire to. So often, I criticize and chastise myself for everything I believe I’m not and cannot do, rather than celebrating and owning all I can do. Seeing the word confidence on a bracelet with a band of sparkling crystals was all the sign I needed to know that maybe life truly was going to be okay. Perhaps this was merely a stumble in the road or my path to where I truly should be and that really, all I needed to move forward was this very word, now covering my wrist – Confidence.
A small gold medallion dangled from the bracelet with a name imprinted on one side and a code on the other. Curious as to what it read and eager to learn of the company behind this intriguing bracelet, I closely examined the medallion and read – Little Words Project. Immediately, I headed to my phone to research the company and was enthralled with all I read. From that moment on, I knew Little Words Project was both a company and initiative I’d wholeheartedly support and come to be quite fond of.
By now, you might be wondering, what exactly is Little Words Project? Without further adieu, here is a brief synopsis of not only a jewelry company, but a movement of many calibers, uniting women of all ages and beyond:
Website Information: The official website; littlewordsproject.com provides extensive information regarding company history, product information, and host of other resources.
Little Words Project (LWP) Origin (via littlewordsproject.com): Started by Adriana Botti, the idea which later became LWP began as a project initially conjured during her high school years to provide her with positive reminders as inspiration and reassurance. As the unfortunate subject of bullying through the years since the 4th grade, Adriana realized much of the cruelty persisted even through later years as young women and adults and made the choice to join a sorority. Through joining the sorority, Adriana credits her experience of learning the meaning friendships and bonds. As a result, Little Words Project was born during Adriana’s sophomore year, as bracelets with encouraging and supportive words, such as “Be Fearless,” “Smile,” “Strength” and “Be Happy.” Seeing the bracelets immediate popularity within her sorority, upon graduating, she officially launched Little Words Project as what Ariana hopes will “inspire a culture of kindness among women young and old.”
LWP Mission: As described on the official LWP website, their mission exists as a means to, “Unite women of all ages in one common goal: to be a go-to company for jewelry that’s uplifting, to be shared with yourself, your loved ones or anyone who could use some extra kindness.
LWP Bracelets: At the heart of LWP are the bracelets available in a vast array of bands, words and symbols, each with their own unique color, style, meaning and number as means of identification and tracking.
- When purchasing a LWP bracelet, you’ll receive much more than the Swarovski crystal-constructed bracelet with an inspirational word. Though beautiful and delicately crafted in itself, its mission and culture only adds to its beauty.
- Upon becoming a LWP bracelet-owner, you’ll enter the official Little Words family and as the LWP website states, “Being a member of this community connects you to women of all ages who have already engaged with our movement and have found comfort in our mission.”
LWP Buying and Selection Process: Intrigued yet? Here is a step-by-step process of how exactly making a Little Words Project purchase works:
- Choose from one of the many inspiring words, bands and colors available via the official LWP website (littlewordsproject.com) or one of the retailers supplying the bracelets as listed on the website.
- Upon purchasing a LWP bracelet, be sure to venture over to the “Register Your Little Word” section on the LWP website or app and register the unique number found on your gold tag (attached to the bracelet)
- Wear your bracelet for as long as you want.
- Upon meeting someone who might need the word on your bracelet, pass it on and advise her to register the bracelet for herself.
Follow along your bracelet’s journey by checking the tag’s status and witness the powerful impact your word (and purchase!) can make.
Social Media: As a company and initiative, LWP is extremely active and communicative on their various social media accounts and prides itself in being open and interactive with their followers and customers (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Instagram):
- Facebook = @littlewordsproject
- Twitter = @littlewordsproj
- Pinterest = @littlewordsp
- Tumblr = littlewordsproject.tumblr.com
- Instagram = @littlewordsproject
Official App: LWP even has their own app available for download in the App store with loads of information, the ability to register your LWP bracelet, interact with other Little Words owners, sales, news and much, much more! When downloading the app, you’ll receive not only pertinent information but also will become a member of the LWP community.
My Personal Reaction: Learning more and more about LWP as a company that very day upon receiving my first LWP bracelet, I knew they’d secured me as not only a customer, but as a true believer in their goals and initiatives. As someone who has personally battled through my own issues with self-esteem, harsh criticisms and poor body image, learning of a company like LWP who strives to support, encourage and advocate for women, is comforting and reassuring to me. To be able to look down on my arm and physically see an encouraging or supportive word reminding me of my strength, courage and capabilities, is a gift to me in more ways than one:
Second Blog Post (“Share It”): With this being said, it leads to me the topic of my second blog post. Later this week, join me for an insider look at how Little Words Project is truly giving back to women and society in more ways than one.
In this next post, learn more about the reasons why LWP resonates so deeply within me. Without disclosing the heart of this next post, prepare to be overcome with emotion when discovering a purchase of a LWP bracelet not only affords you with a beautiful piece of custom jewelry, but a means to grow and support organizations and people in need (“Little Words that Give Back“)
Good Morning from an east coast with an apparent winter storm fast approaching! Given the weather reports, it sounds like my fellow east coast neighbors (and possibly elsewhere within the U.S.) will be snowed in this impending weekend. Not the biggest fan of snow or inclement weather in general, I’m hoping it will end up being more on the milder side, versus the opposite. That being said, it’s been a rather tumultuous week, to say the least.
When it comes to my car, one that I purchased from a three-year-lease last year, I’m always checking to ensure it is working properly. Bringing it in regularly for service appointments, checks and constant self-monitoring is always key and something I do on a consistent basis. For the past couple weeks, when starting my car, I began to notice something didn’t seem or “feel” right. It wasn’t a feeling I could easily describe and had difficulty placing it into words and explaining it to my family. Given I don’t drive a significant amount, when I was outside of my car, I pushed aside my worries and concerns over it and let it slide, believing it was probably just my irrational fears getting the best of me.
All the same, when it came time for me to drive my car, the fears and worries would re-generate and I would ruminate about potential problems with my car, anticipating the worst. Still, it failed to convince me to bring to the mechanic or auto center and I tried my best to privately silence the thoughts in my mind. Then yesterday, it all changed without much warning and the choice was no longer mine.
Monday morning the call I was hoping for came in: an invitation for a second interview for a career opportunity. I was surprised, excited and nervous. The interview was to happen yesterday, at 10:15am. Since the opportunity is only about 10 minutes from home, it was something I could easily manage, despite the short notice. I readied myself for the interview, making it out to my car to briefly warm up it (or so I intended to) around 9:45am and pushed the start button in my car (note: my car is a push start). The engine churned and churned and then… nothing. Nothing at all. I sat in my frigid car, with the temperature registering barely in the teens, wondering what I had done to deserve this outcome. Of all the times, I was home, with nothing to do, or no plans for the day, my car was always fine and yet, when something of a rare occurrence, a job opportunity of this magnitude surfaces, my car decides to fail. It was easy for me to begin the blame game (thinking I should have followed through on my concerns, I shouldn’t have let it go, I should have told someone), but I couldn’t have really known when I really think about it. Sometimes, these things happen without warning and they are beyond our control. As a 2012 vehicle, the end of this month signals it’s fourth year. I try to rationalize and reason with myself, that the battery was reaching it’s retirement, as they often last about 4-5 years, I’m told.
The best I could do, was focus on what needed to be done (i.e. getting to the interview on time, or within a reasonable timeframe and then working on dealing with my car issues afterwards), though it was challenging and all near impossible to silence the concerns and upset circulating within my mind. I had little time to fret about my car; I needed to quickly mobilize and plan for the impending ten minutes I had left to spare before the interview was set to commence.
Life sometimes gives us blessings in little ways, for whatever reason. With every unfortunate event, there is always a silver lining, hidden somewhere, no matter how small or minuscule it can seem. Yesterday, I was afforded a blessing: my sister, my best friend, my confidante, coming to my rescue. With a call and quick explanation, within minutes, she arrived. Words can never truly begin to express the feelings surfacing within my heart and mind as I spotted her SUV making it’s way down my street into the parking lot, quickly stopping in back of my car; she was here and somehow, through the ways life has ways of somehow working, we made it to my interview at 10:15 on the dot, without a moment to spare and when I found myself inside of the building, seated in a chair listening to the interviewer, I could all but pinch myself, wondering how it was all possible and how it is evidence that truly every second can bring change, either positive or negative. Life constantly catches me off-guard and though it may often feel or seem monotonous, it has its moments that truly make me question everything I’ve ever believed.
My family and I (specifically my sister and I) have an often unspoken relationship and what I mean by that is we can easily understand each other with or without spoken words. All it takes is a facial expression, a gesture, or really anything, to trigger a question, an action or a decision. Instead of wallowing in the “why me” attitude and feeling sorry for myself, I chose to operate under the belief of gratefulness. How grateful I was for my sister, coming to my aide. Sometimes things happen to us that are unfortunate, but we are NOT what happens to us; we can make the choice to see the bright side, no matter how dim it may seem at the time. Yesterday, I worked through not only the sadness and regret in not investigating my initial concerns about my car, the fact that it happened to me right before an interview and trying to not reason that it was an “omen” of some sort, and also the guilt of tearing my sister away from her day, wreaking havoc on her morning and overall day.
Instead, I chose to focus on my intention, as I so often to. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve spoken fairly frequently on here, in previous posts, about my concept of intention and strong belief in it. When I start to doubt myself, my decisions and actions, I choose to focus on my intention. I ask myself, when the self-defeating thoughts start to mount: what is my intention? Was my intention to do no harm? Was my intention to help others, including myself? In this instance, was my intention to solely travel to my interview as quickly and calmly as possible on my own? YES. The fact of the matter was and is, my intention was to travel to the interview independently, as I did the first time. Sometimes though, life throws obstacles our way that causes us to have to ask for help. In this instance, help was the equivalent of one of the most important people in my life arriving in her trusty SUV, with minutes to spare and today, I’m looking back on yesterday, thankful to have gotten through it and grateful for the incredible family in my life who make each day all the more worthwhile.
Though words can never truly express it, I hope my family knows how truly grateful and fortunate I am for them, each and every day.
Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and relaxing one, thus far. A couple of days ago, I had every intention of posting this very post, but unfortunately, several unfortunate occurrences seemed to interfere.
Between the issues related to the wireless network/router and my laptop, to the minor settings issue with my iPhone, it was frustrating and difficult to feel as though it wasn’t my fault, or beyond my control. When I found myself becoming stressed and overwhelmed, I turned to what I most often do – quotes. For those who know me well, or have been reading my blog for even a brief time, quotes are something I highly value and feel it helps me keep situations and life, in general, in perspective. Needless to say, I managed to stumble across several quotes this past week (most were tweeted by one of my favorite TODAY Show anchors, Hoda Kotb) which I found to be inspiring, motivating and comforting. The last quote I found (which you’ll see pictured, below) is from a necklace I happened to spot while browsing at Kohl’s with my sister and niece. Initially, I spotted it a couple weeks ago and then several days ago, we visited Kohl’s again and since the quote had been on my mind since first seeing it, but I couldn’t recall the specifics of it, I was able to locate it and snap a quick photo to share.
Quotes of the Week:
- “And suddenly you know… It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
- “People grow when they are loved well. If you want to help others heal, love them without an agenda.”
- “With the right music, you either forget everything or you remember everything.”
- “You’re the wish my heart made.”
Last night, as I typically do, I had the TV turned to ABC’s World News Tonight hosted by David Muir as I prepared and then ate dinner. Sometimes, I find it is merely background noise, something to fill the house with the sound, but occasionally, there will be a story on air that truly speaks to me. Little did I know, however, how much it would impact me in particular, last night. At first, I was barely listening, watching the TV screen, but not actually absorbing what was airing, until the image of a small child named Bella and a large, 131-pound Great Dane, named George graced the screen. At first glance, what a pair they were, walking side by side, albeit the same height, but a significant difference in weight and body shape. Though, as the story continued to air, I quickly realized how significant of a relationship they actually have; well beyond that of a traditional pet.
For those of you who might have missed the story last night, here is a link to the video: http://abcnews.go.com/WNT/video/special-bond-young-girl-rare-genetic-disorder-service-34980708
For Bella, George is not only her dog, but her constant support, teacher and guide. Born with a rare genetic disorder and diagnosed at age 2, she was unable to walk and potentially confined to a wheelchair. However, enter George, a Great Dane service dog, who has been by her side now for years, aiding her in walking, serving as her constant companion from the moment she wakes until she sleeps, with George still by her side, providing comfort, guidance and a watchful eye. As I watched Bella and George’s story on TV, I was overcome with emotion, true, raw emotion. Sitting beside my mom as I watched, tears filled my eyes and then down my face, as the bond of Bella and George was one evoking an emotional reaction behind words. As a dog owner myself, for over 13 and a half years, I know firsthand of the bond between a human and their dog. The journey of Bella and George is an incredible story of how dogs can truly change lives, not only as companions, but as a true guide and helper. Each day, George is beside Bella, aiding her in mobility and the everyday activities of living. He helps her live her life as a child her age should be able to live – with the freedom of movement and the ability to explore. Watching them walk beside each other, with George in step with her every move, brought not only tears to my eyes, but also a smile, so proud to see dogs being honored and embraced in this way, giving them the spotlight, they deserve.
It’s now late afternoon and almost Halloween eve. For those of you who are fans of Halloween or will be celebrating in some way, I wish you lots of fun and excitement! Before we head into the weekend, I felt I needed to share an article I stumbled across merely moments ago. One of my favorite authors, Amy Hatvany, shared an article on Facebook this afternoon and also posted a quote from the article, which ultimately lead me to click over to read it in its entirety. What I read left me nearly speechless and stunned. The author said many of the words and thoughts that are difficult and painful to verbalize, but he did so in such a way that made sense and commanded my attention and thought.
In the article, (http://www.timjlawrence.com/blog/2015/10/19/everything-doesnt-happen-for-a-reason), the author states that everything doesn’t always happen for a reason, contrary to the phrase people so often utter. This thought in itself was intriguing and prompted me to question the times I, myself, have personally said it. His rationale behind it was unique and I more or less do agree with him. However, the most intriguing and eloquent aspect of the article for me, came towards the end, and I’d like to share the specific passage:
“When a person is devastated by grief, the last thing they need is advice. Their world has been shattered. This means that the act of inviting someone—anyone—into their world is an act of great risk. To try and fix or rationalize or wash away their pain only deepens their terror.
Instead, the most powerful thing you can do is acknowledge. Literally say the words:
I acknowledge your pain. I am here with you.
Note that I said with you, not for you. For implies that you’re going to do something. That is not for you to enact. But to stand with your loved one, to suffer with them, to listen to them, to do everything but something is incredibly powerful.
There is no greater act than acknowledgment. And acknowledgment requires no training, no special skills, no expertise. It only requires the willingness to be present with a wounded soul, and to stay present, as long as is necessary.
Be there. Only be there. Do not leave when you feel uncomfortable or when you feel like you’re not doing anything. In fact, it is when you feel uncomfortable and like you’re not doing anything that you must stay.
Because it is in those places—in the shadows of horror we rarely allow ourselves to enter—where the beginnings of healing are found. This healing is found when we have others who are willing to enter that space alongside us. Every grieving person on earth needs these people.”
After reading the author’s writing, I felt relieved and understood. So often, I have experienced situations where a loved one or close friend has experienced something tragic, overwhelming or upsetting and I’ve been torn with what I should say or how to convey them how much I care and want to be there to support them. I’ve often wondered if I’ve conveyed this in a way that makes them feel supported and cared for, or if I’ve simply sounded foolish. The way the author describes how to support someone, is eye-opening for me. It makes me recall all those times I’ve wondered what to say or do and lets me know that just by being there and sitting through those painful silences, maybe my support is known. It’s also comforting to know that by writing this article, I am aware that I am not alone in the sentiments I’ve felt.
Anyhow, I felt it was necessary for me to post this today, because I know if I hadn’t stumbled across my favorite author’s post, I might never have come across it, so I thought if it offered me a perspective, it might prove to do so for others, as well. With that said, Have a great Halloween weekend and take time to enjoy the Fall foliage!
Good Morning! I hope your weekend has been a pleasant and relaxing one, thus far! On Friday, the temperatures ended up being extremely oppressive and uncomfortable with the humidity soaring, making it nearly impossible to be outside for more than a short period of time. Also, I made the poor decision of leaving my flip flops in a closed, sweltering car, which almost melted them! Lesson learned, for sure. Thankfully, they were able to be salvaged after taking some time to cool off in my air-conditioned house!
Anyhow, given I follow several local television news stations in the area, I recently noticed my local ABC News affiliate, 6ABC Action News of Philadelphia, shared an article via social media (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) and since having stumbled across it on Thursday evening, it’s been on my mind. It’s not the first time I’ve heard of animals, in particular dogs, assisting in the most unique ways and providing a source of comfort, encouragement and companionship to people, even those they just met; (To preview the article/story I’m speaking of, here is a link, if you’d like to check it out: http://6abc.com/pets/newest-court-employee-dog-providing-comfort-to-kids-on-the-stand/778441/)
In the city of Poughkeepsie, NY, specially-trained service dogs, will now be a permanent presence in the courthouse with the ability to provide children with support and comfort, as they take the stand, a task which can be anxiety-ridden and overwhelming for anyone, let alone children. Dogs such as Bosch, the canine featured in the article, will be trained by nonprofit organizations, such as the East Coast Assistance Dogs (ECAD), which, according to the article, has trained over 250 canines thus far and has been able to assist in an array of situations for over 20 years.
Employees of ECAD stated that the dogs provide children with the feeling that they can “tell their stories in a safe way.” The dogs are trained to sense anxiety and stress and perhaps already harbor an innate sense of recognizing these signs of distress. I was more than intrigued after reading this article and seeing how helpful and significant a dog’s presence can truly be. It’s not the first time I’ve read about an initiative such as this and in fact, I have experienced something relatively similar myself.
Years ago and fairly recently, as well, while waiting in my local hospital’s emergency room (both for myself and family members, at one point), a man walked through with a golden retriever on a leash. Instantly, I noticed the faces on many of the people’s faces light up. They were instantly taken with the sight of the friendly dog, who casually and happily walked over to many of them, greeting them and sending friendly and relaxed vibes through the otherwise, tense room. It was hard to be sad when in the presence of this dog and for a short while, he provided the room (and most definitely, me) with a pleasant distraction.
In another instance, I also learned of a program where children read to dogs, as a form of therapy, comfort and a source of reassurance. One organization in particular, Therapy Dogs International (http://www.tdi-dog.org/OurPrograms.aspx?Page=Children+Reading+to+Dogs), state that their mission in providing the program is:
“To provide a relaxed and “dog-friendly” atmosphere, which allows students to practice the skill of reading. Many of the children chosen for this program have difficulties reading and as a result have developed self-esteem issues. They are often self-conscious when reading aloud in front of other classmates.
By sitting down next to a dog and reading to the dog, all threats of being judged are put aside. The child relaxes, pats the attentive dog, and focuses on the reading. Reading improves because the child is practicing the skill of reading, building self-esteem, and associating reading with something pleasant.”
Ever since I was first made abreast of this program, it’s always been on my mind and I am in full support of it. Having worked with a vast array of children in school settings throughout the course of my life and having weathered through a host of self-esteem issues myself, there is nothing better than providing children with an alternative way to foster a love of reading and a boost of confidence.
My reason for this post today, is my desire to share with you, whomever may be reading, of the many ways dogs can often offer us something well-beyond what traditional therapies and “scientifically” proven methodologies can. It is proof that sometimes, the only “medicine” or “treatment” a child, or anyone, for that matter, truly needs, is unconditional love and unwavering support. A supportive presence, helping hand (or paw) and listening ear can make all the difference.