Christmas Reflections, Mimi's Messages

All They Want For Christmas Is YOU!

Christmas gift 12.17.18 logo

We pressure ourselves to get the best Christmas gifts for our children. We just want them to be excited and happy. Well, guess what? This teacher tells us that what has mattered most to her students is spending time with their parents. And as a retired teacher, I can vouch for her.

christmas words from a teacher

Kids want US! They want our attention. They want us to do fun things with them, simple things. Spending time. Cuddling while watching silly Christmas movies. Popping corn. Sledding. Going for a walk. Reading together. Just being together is so special. Without the phone and laptop between us!!

Make traditions of baking, reading special stories each year, playing board games, telling about their yearly ornaments, helping those in need as a family, remembering favorite happenings during the year, attending seasonal concerts, church services, dinners…. there are many ways to be with your children. If you are completely worn out from shopping, and cranky about spending too much money, you won’t even feel like spending time with them. And to our children, spending time together matters. And it doesn’t cost a thing.

Here’s to a Christmas season FULL of making memories and spending time together, connecting with each other, not the internet.

Lots of hugs and Merry Christmas!

  heartMimi

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Inspiration, Words To Help

The Grace Experiment

grace changes everything2

I’m thinking that we all could show ourselves some grace this time of year. I originally wrote this article for the August/September issue of Women2Women Michigan Magazine (I’m the editor and write a column). I believe it is quite timely for now, during a time when we are so stressed, and demanding of ourselves. Read it, take heart, breathe deeply, and try the “grace experiment”.

The Grace Experiment

She was done. She just couldn’t do it anymore. And the worst thing? She felt like a failure. Nagging self-criticism kept bombarding her brain: she’d not done enough, she should work harder, and she was so unworthy. She had tried. Oh how hard she had tried! But she had come to the end of herself. She could barely breathe, much less keep pushing herself to “get it all done” just to make everyone happy. She collapsed on the bed, tears dripping down her cheeks, and wondered how she’d gotten to this place. Utterly exhausted, hardly able to move, her brain overloaded with the many requirements and expectations from others, she wondered if she’d ever be happy again.

Do you recognize this woman? Have you seen her in your mirror?

Everyone gets exhausted and comes to the “end of their rope” at times during their lives. Unfortunately, with women it is often the result of our “super woman” mentality which believes we can be all things to everyone, do all things to please people, be the caregivers of the world, and completely dismiss our own needs. It’s a mindset that has been driven into us by our culture, our families, and by societal expectations. Often it is the result of believing there is no other way and our own driving need to prove ourselves.

Well Darlin’, if this is you, it’s time to bestow upon yourself goodwill, favor, and mercy, (grace) just as you would a best friend who was criticizing themselves for falling short. You would give her encouragement and tell her how accomplished she is. It’s time to do the same for yourself.

grace

 

 “If beating yourself up worked, you’d already be rich, skinny, and happy. Why not try loving yourself for a month and see what happens?”

My friend Stephanie Dalfonzo wrote these words on her Facebook page this week. I asked if I could use them because they fit so well with what I was writing.

Do you realize how powerful this suggestion is? Could you do it? It takes twenty-one days to change a habit, so how about instead of self-criticism you rejoiced in your accomplishments for thirty days? Do you understand how that could change your brain and your outlook on life?

Instead of thinking, “I’m a bad mom because my meals are not really healthy enough for my kids”, think, “I buy groceries (an accomplishment that deserves a medal in my book!) and provide food for family.” (SCORE!)

I am such a bad parent, missing my kids’ games (recitals, plays). However, I am working to provide a life for them, and there are others who love and encourage them.

Instead of, “Will my children be okay without me tonight? I feel so guilty!” Think, “I really need this time to laugh with friends so that I can be more content at home. They are just fine without me, and we all need a break from each other.” And you know, they really are just fine with someone else for a while.

And during those times when you just can’t seem to keep your head above water and the doubt and lies and guilt are attacking you? Start listing all the things you HAVE accomplished that day.  Perhaps you worked all day (which brings its own set of frustrations), did four loads of laundry,  bought groceries, read with a child, cleaned the toilet (does anyone else clean just one item a day like I often do?) spent 5 minutes outside, folded the laundry (ugh, 3 days later), put the devices aside and cuddled, cooked dinner (or collected drive-through), made the bed (ha!), talked to your mom, encouraged a friend, got out of bed this morning, or got into bed at a decent hour (you do know we desperately need 7-8 hours of sleep don’t you?). There are so many things that we do each day and we need to celebrate them. Others expect and take for granted. But you, my dear, need to begin seeing what a powerhouse you truly are!

Need to start saving? Celebrate the five dollars you were able to tuck away this week or how you resisted buying that really unnecessary item (maybe at Hobby Lobby or Target? Stay away from those places!).

Want to lose weight? Celebrate that you didn’t eat the whole bag of chips even though you really, really wanted to. Perhaps you signed up with a therapist to help you understand the underlying reasons behind overeating, or that you have partnered with a friend to support each other. Or that you did not buy the three-pack of chocolate chip cookies at McDonald’s (do they stare you in the face too?).

Need to lose weight and save money? Celebrate that you have weaned yourself from that sugary Starbuck’s on the way to work or that you brought your lunch to work and walked for ten minutes.

Did you take the stairs today instead of the elevator? Did you call a friend to encourage her? Did you turn up the music and dance with your kids? Did you clean the house—or even one room? Girl! You need to celebrate!!

This list can go on and on. If you have trouble remembering your accomplishments by the end of the day, jot notes to yourself. Perhaps carry a little journal with you. Many people carry “gratitude” journals, and being conscious of all they have to be grateful for has changed their outlook on life. I believe the act of recognizing all you accomplish during your day will change your life drastically. You will begin to see that you are not lacking in any way.

And take a bit of time for you each day: read, sit outside, meditate, take a bubble bath, or do yoga, and breathe. You are completely worth it—and until you believe that of yourself, it will be hard for others to believe it either.

self care is love 2

 

I realize I am focusing more on doing rather than being, which is not my usual approach.  But I feel it’s important for women to learn to give themselves grace rather than beat themselves up for not doing all they think they should (which usually turns into feelings of not being enough—something I struggled with most of my life). I really do hope you will try the “Grace Experiment”. And please let me know how it changes your life! Email me at mimi@w2wmichigan.com. I can’t wait to hear from you!

 

Much love and really big sparkle hugs,

heartPassionista Mimi

Inspiration

He Will Heal The Brokenhearted

A friend of mine is going through a heartbreaking time. I made this for her today, and thought I’d post for anyone else who needs to hear it. The “He” in this quote is God, and the words are from the Bible.

Several years ago, when I was enduring the same kind of emotional devastation she is, knowing this promise kept me sane. I reminded God often that He said He would heal my broken heart, and that He promised He wouldn’t break me (by allowing more than I could bear, or by making me walk through it alone).

On the other side of it now, I will testify that God indeed healed my heart and has given me joy. He walked with me through every difficult decision and day of weeping. And today, He used me to encourage another sister who is where I was. He is there for you, too.

I haven’t posted in quite a while, so someone needs this, or I wouldn’t have put it here today. 

for Katee

If it speaks to you, feel free to print it off and put it where you will see it as a reminder. God will see you through.

Much love and hugs, Mimi

 

Living With Gusto

First Love Yourself

 

3 FLY

Happy March! (This is from my “Wings & Dreams” calendar. You can still purchase one on sale in my shop.)

As Lucille Ball said, ” Love yourself first, and all the rest falls into line.”
It’s pretty difficult to accomplish what your heart desires if you don’t feel as if you are worth it. 
It’s tough to offer love to others if you feel really cruddy about yourself.
It’s almost impossible to be confident and positive if you really don’t like yourself.
What can you do today to nurture your soul? As women we nurture everyone else, but not ourselves.
Speak up for your right to take time to do something that nurtures YOU. (Convince yourself you are worthy of it. It will make you a better person, dissolve resentment, and empower you!)
Tell me below what you are going to do for yourself today. Me? I just got my heart rate up for 15 minutes. Go me! Now let’s see if I keep with it! Cheer me on.

Inspiration, Living With Gusto

Comparison is Distracting

comparison

Do you get distracted when you look at others, their posts, their accomplishments? Are you comparing? I sure do, at times. Then I remind myself that we all have different callings, abilities, lights to shine. It’s really destructive to compare because we will not “measure up”. So, keep on pursuing your own purpose. And don’t get distracted by comparison.

Big sparkle hugs! Mimi

 

 

Living With Gusto

We Are Not Alone

“Christmas is a reminder that we are not alone.” My aunt shared this quote with me and it resonated within me.
God touched humanity with Jesus—the greatest gift of all. Love came down at His birth. He provided a way to live with HOPE in the midst of despair. To have a FRIEND when everyone turns away. To have STRENGTH in the midst of fear. To have LOVE in the midst of hate. To have FAITH in the midst of turmoil.
HE alone is my Rock, the One who has sustained me through some really, really rough times. He has anchored me when I’ve been adrift and floundering.
I am forever grateful for this Savior who came humbly to walk among us and make a way for us to have lives of fullness and joy, regardless of our circumstances. My heart belong to the One who loves me.


May you be blessed this Christmas

and the year to come. 

Love and big hugs, Mimi

Nature

Come See My Garden

My yard gives me such pleasure!

It’s a retreat for me, it gives me visual delight,

it’s a place of wonder and curiosity.

My favorite color is pink! The pink flowers here are Lantana. The bottom picture shows them in a toolbox of my uncle’s who was a house painter.

 

Many of these plants were moved multiple times and they really like it here!

Pink Martha Washington geraniums give the most bang for your buck! Bottom left shows Limelight Hydrangea with Black Lace bush behind it. Of course, Black-eyed Susans always complete a garden.

 

In the last four years they have grown, multiplied, intermingled, and I love it!

I LOVE hydrangeas!! These are all from the Limelight and I’m drying them. I also LOVE anything galvanized. Can you tell?

 

I realize I am quite fortunate.

My yard is awesome, my flowers grow like crazy, and it’s a feast for my eyes.

That crazy green leafy vine hanging from the red headboard is a Sweet Potato Vine. Beside it is a Sedum of some kind. It goes crazy too! Below is the sweet little memorial for my sister, the garden stone was given to me by a friend. The broken crock made a great planter.

 

I also realize that most of this is not my doing but that of God’s blessing.

And I am deeply thankful.

Baby finches abound right now! They are everywhere, learning to fly and chattering constantly. They are a thirsty lot. Those bright flowers on the bottom are zinnias! I never knew until this year that they came in a short, shrub-like version.

 

Thanks for taking a little tour of my front yard gardens.

I hate to see them go, but soon frost will come.

Oh well, it’s always fun to see everything come up in the spring.

What about you?

Do any of you love growing things?

Tell me about your gardens!

 

Until next time,

Big hugs, Passionista Mimi

Living With Gusto

Wings and Dreams

Is there a goal or dream niggling at your heart?

Do you have big plans on the back burner that you have only shared with your trusted friend?

Perhaps you are just a leetle bit afraid to dream BIG for fear of disappointment.

I understand that. I’ve been there!

But you know what?

This 2018 calendar is one of my dreams,

and although it’s very scary putting it out here

for the public to scrutinize and evaluate,

I do it because it’s important to me.

I hope you find value in this calendar.

I hope you will be encouraged by the pages,

and decide to take the leap toward

your dreams too.

I, like you, walk the journey

not knowing if my dreams will succeed.

And they all may not.

But I’m taking steps to bring encouragement and empowerment into your lives.

If I accomplish that, I’ll be overflowing with JOY!!

Because, you see, bringing encouragement into your lives is one of my DREAMS!

It’s my calling.

And this calendar is one of the ways

I’m able to live MY dream.

And that makes me really, really happy!

 

If you’d like one of these calendars, you may purchase it here.

 

I haven’t told y’all lately how amazing

and wonderful you are!

I hope you know that. Thank you for being YOU!

I’d hate to have to live without you in my life.

And thank you for your support. It means so much to me!!

Lotsa love and big sparkle hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Living With Gusto

Are You Wearing Your True Colors?

when I am an old woman I shall wear purple

 

Today is my birthday!! I thought it quite appropriate to post this today, since I am entering a “milestone” birthday this year–that of receiving Medicare. Yes, this lady right here is turning 65 years old today!! I can’t believe it. Because I am waaaay too young at heart to be 65!! Right? That’s what living with gusto and passion will do fer ya!! Ha!

 

The above picture is an excerpt from a poem written by Jenny Joseph in 1961 when she was 29 years old. You really should read it all. This poem became Jenny’s most popular one even though she wrote all her life and won several awards and published numerous poetry books.

 

Perhaps it gained popularity because it speaks of women doing what suits them instead of what others expect of them. A freeing thought to women of the 60s and continues to be even now.

Our clothing standards for “older” women (whatever that means) have loosened some in the last decades, but conquering societal expectations on women is still a struggle. So here is my take on this idea of what to wear:

I’m older—I guess—and I enjoy wearing purple and many other colors. But how I most want to clothe myself is by wearing the honest, true version of my own essence. Not someone’s idea of who I am, not anyone’s opinion of how I should behave, and certainly not another person’s idea of what I should be. Who’s with me?

 

Age has given me perspective and wisdom. Navigating through difficult times—suffering because of wrong choices, persevering through grief, loss, and change—as well as experiencing wonderful and joyful things like parenthood and being loved, will do that for you.

 

Age has given me guts. Guts to break free and throw out all that isn’t truly my authentic self. Age has liberated me. I finally got tired enough to call it quits. I couldn’t take care of everyone else any more. I couldn’t be what “they” wanted and demanded. And good Lord, why should I be? How does allowing someone else to frame my character, personality, and behaviors honor myself or my Creator?

 

As with most of us, the reduction and dismissal of my true self started at an early age when I began believing lies about myself. Experiences in my young life caused me to feel “less than” and that was the filter I used to interpret what people said about me. I heard words and perceived behaviors that convinced me I was, indeed, less than I should be.

 

For the record, when we hear something, we must accept it and agree with it before it can become truth to us. How we feel about ourselves, often determined early in our lives, affects that.

 

As I got older and began to dismiss other’s opinions and expectations, and tasted the freedom of determining my authentic self, I’ve discovered lots of treasures in my character. I’m not really those awful things people said about me. I know that they were lies. And I’m fervently hoping that you, too, will make the same discovery of truth.

 

So what about that purple? Please wear whatever colors make you feel alive and vibrant! But, most importantly, clothe yourself in the dazzling radiance of your perfectly true self.

And, darling, won’t we SHINE!!

 

 

I wrote this for the Women2Women Michigan Magazine. You might really enjoy reading the whole magazine online, as it is FULL of great articles for and about and by women! Here is the link to read the free magazine: W2WMichigan Magazine

Love and hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

 

 

 

Living With Gusto

This Is Your Mission Should You Choose To Accept It

 

picture 1 05.02.2016

It’s my firm belief that our society could use a lot more attention. Not the “hey, look at me” kind of attention, but the kind that notices others. Attention to others: kindness, caring, listening, looking, touching, smiling, and sharing.

 

Of course, in order for this to happen we’d need to lift our faces from our device screens. If you know that I am someone who sits in front of a computer many hours a day, this statement could seem hypocritical. However, I make my beyond-the-screen moments really count. Balance. That is what’s needed. I’m a relationship-builder and I notice people. It’s not that hard, really, to actually look at folks. Study them. Listen. But also, respond.

 

It seems that so much of our society has “acquired self-centeredness”, to coin a phrase for my purposes here. Though most of us are not typically wired from birth to be self-absorbed for all of our lives (usually humans reach an age where they outgrow this for the most part), it seems to have become an increasingly consistent trait through adulthood.

 

Which is truly sad. Think back. I know you can remember a time when someone’s smile, touch on the arm, or hug reached your hurting heart for a moment. You were strengthened by having someone connect with you and share your burden.

 

Why is it often the norm to step back from other’s emotional journeys, whether good or bad?  Is it because we feel that our own journey stinks so badly that we want no part of more emotionality? But isn’t it possible that when we reach out to someone they could actually help share our journey too? Ahhh, but we must become vulnerable and make the first move. Whew, not many of us like that word! Nope, not us. We want our backs covered. Better yet, let’s stand in a corner with our shield in front of us and our helmet on so no one can penetrate.

 

But this is not living fully! And how, may I ask, are we going to have a fulfilling job with people, satisfying relationships with loved ones, or success in building a life if we choose not to relate wholeheartedly with others? How, if instead we cocoon ourselves away from interactions, connections, and reaching out with our hearts in compassion? Because, remember, we need that just as badly.

 

“No man is an island, entire of itself.” John Donne

 

If you spend some time becoming acquainted with people who have long-term, successful marriages/relationships, or who are making an impact on their world, or are top entrepreneurs, or leaders in their companies, you will most likely find they have two common characteristics:

picture 2 05.02.2016

 

Brenѐ Brown, in her book Rising Strong, says that

“hiding out, pretending, and armoring up against vulnerability are killing us: killing our spirits, our hopes, our potential, our creativity, our ability to lead, our love, our faith, and our joy.”

And then what is left of our lives?

 

 When we brace ourselves against reaching out to fellow humans, or fail to look into people’s eyes and actually talk with them, we are killing our own spirits. By our actions, or lack thereof, we are sending the message that other people are not worthy of our time or valuable enough to be noticed and we are way more important than anyone else in our sphere. Is this the impression we want to give? Is that really how we want to live our lives?

 

Every time I choose to become vulnerable and speak with people—online, in person, or to a group—and share the stories of my personal experiences of loss and then living, of how I broke free of a life driven by other people’s opinions and expectations, of my own rising above setbacks and circumstances, I am amazed. I am encouraged and heartened by the lives touched, hope that is received and embraced, and the new paths chosen. That is what happens when we connect, when we tell our stories in order to lift another, when we reach out with our hearts to let someone know that we see their pain, understand a little, or share how we survived. And every time I do, my own life gets stronger through lifting their burden during that poignant encounter.

 

We are placed on earth for others—to share journeys side by side. We are not created to be self-contained, excluding others. Thus, when we extend beyond ourselves, touching hearts and sharing burdens, our own hearts grow stronger.

 

“Go out and make a difference in your community. You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty minutes and watch your heart start beating.” Barbara Sher

 

Hopefully my own bold choices will affect and inspire others to step out, risk, and make brave choices too. But what about the ways YOU have been courageous? The fact you are human means you have survived difficult circumstances, walked through grief and loss, suffered betrayal, endured your share of heartbreak, and yet have been brave, valiant, and bold (if not you wouldn’t be reading this). So tell your story, and shine your light for others.

Picture 3 05.02.2016

 

Do you realize that you already make a difference in the lives of people every single day? It’s your choice whether you are adding value or not.

Will you smile and warm the eyes of that person you squeeze past in your rush to accomplish your errand?

Will you hug, hold, or touch the person who is alone and hasn’t felt human warmth in many weeks?

Will you visit the one who is physically trapped inside a home, longing to see the sunshine and feel the breeze, and to hear another person’s voice?

Will you listen with stillness, full intention, and focus as someone, with stuttering breath, reveals their story of need?

Will you sit, in the moment, with grief and pain, and breathe alongside another to divide the burden?

Will you whirl and dance in steps of celebration of another’s blessing without asking “why not me, when’s my turn”?

Will you hold the young child of a friend who needs to go, do, be “not-a-mommy” for a bit?

Will you take the time to write and mail a note expressing gratitude toward someone who has given their time and heart? There are many, many unsung heroes in our lives.

Will you share from your bounty, or maybe from your just-enough, to lighten the despair of another who is hungry and afraid, unable to feed her child?

Will you share from your buy-a-coffee-on-the-way stash in order to diminish the lack of another?

Will you call someone and personally voice your desire to help, so they hear the warmth of your humanness instead of just reading a text?

Add value to other’s lives.

 

“The question is not ‘Can you make a difference?’ You already do make a difference. It’s just a matter of what kind of difference you want to make during your life on this planet.” Julia Butterfly Hill

 

As mentioned, the word “WHOLEHEARTED” has gained attention because of Brenѐ Brown’s books The Gifts of Imperfection, Daring Greatly, and Rising Strong. She so wonderfully voices for us the need to live with our whole hearts in a sincere, unreserved, and unconditional way. Why? Because those who do choose to live wholeheartedly experience longer-lasting relationships, more success in their work, and the highest satisfaction with their lives.

 

When we connect with another person through acts that add value to their lives, we live wholeheartedly. You do become vulnerable when you live like that, and must be brave to choose it. However,

It’s impossible to add value to someone’s life without also adding value to your own.

 

This is your mission. Will you choose to accept it?

picture 4 05.02.2016

 

And more power to you!!

Love and hugs,

Passionista Mimi

 

Update: the above quote is by Ram Dass not Rumi. I did research it but somehow got misleading information. I apologize for posting the wrong credit.