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, 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

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

Summer Delights

Happy July! This summer is going so quickly that I make certain to enjoy the little things that fill it up. 

I posted these on my Instagram, so this may be a repeat to some of you. 

These beautiful, dark red cherries in the little pink vintage bowl on this old wooden stool……

summer delights

This amazingly large strawberry heart…..

summer delights2

This incredible display of violet on my Lacecap Hydrangea…..

summer delights3

These “yard gatherings” bouquets….
Every day I go out to gather new blossoms from my beautiful yard. I am so blessed! 

summer delights8

These lacy, white beauties in a vintage vase….

summer delights7

and a heart message from my sister who’s in heaven, appearing on a fresh nectarine….

nectarine heart

By taking the time to enjoy the small, special gifts of summer, I am able to slow it down a little bit. 

I hope yours is full of delights also!

Love and hugs, 
Passionista Mimi

Mimi's Messages

Do You Love Your Child “Every Single Bit”?

I designed this card to express how I feel about my children. How about saying these words to your own children? Help them feel like precious treasures. Because when children know that they are amazing and wonderful and CHERISHED, they have a healthy foundation for self-love and courage, and know that they have a safe place supporting them. 

 

On the other hand, please don’t let your child hear that they were a surprise, or a mistake, or an “oopsie”. Those words can damage for life. If you were blessed with a child, however that happened, they are a treasure to be cherished. 

 

Am I always diligent about letting my children know I love them, every single bit? No, of course not! I make mistakes, lose my temper, say things I shouldn’t. But I really try. I want them to know the gift they are to me.

 

Side note: Does that mean always sacrificing MY needs for theirs? No. I believe that always making them a priority, even over my own needs, teaches entitlement and expectation that the world will revolve around them, which we all know is not true. I model healthy self-love by taking time for myself and doing things that help replenish my spirit and restore my brain so I CAN take care of them better. 

 

So, my friends, won’t you join with me in telling your children that you love them, “every single bit”?

 

(You can buy this card in my Etsy shop or click on the image to go directly.)

Have a great day, folks!!

Hugs and sparkles, Mimi

Hi there! It's Me, Mimi

This Exciting Thing Happened!

Last month I was interviewed by HerIdeaBlog.com. They feature creative women each week and I was very excited to participate in this. I have put my interview below, but be sure to go to the website to read about more amazing women!

How would you describe yourself?

In describing myself, I’ll borrow from one of my cards that says, “Live Loud”. I believe that we should live our life with intention and grab it with both hands, living with gusto. I call myself “The Queen of Sparkle and Shine” because I’m passionate about sharing truth, encouragement, shining my light, and giving big sparkle hugs. I’m often seen wearing a tiara (I’m Queen after all).

I’m a retired elementary school teacher and I’ve already enjoyed a lot of living in my years. Currently I am the only parent of two teens, I teach reading to kindergartners who were ill-prepared to enter school, I’m writing my first book, I’m a blogger and Instagram “encourager” shining my light and truth to uplift others, I’m a bi-monthly contributor to the Women2Women Michigan magazine, and the owner/designer of Empowordment Cards by Mimi.

I’m also an inspirational speaker. My business is called Passionista At Large, which is the “umbrella” for all my other interests. “Passionista” describes my zest for living and my intense desire to share with  individuals how they can rise above negative beliefs to be empowered for making positive choices in their lives. The “at large” part is a way of poking fun at myself, as I am 5’10” tall. When I was teaching I’d refer to myself as large and in charge. But it also means that I’m on the prowl to Inform, Inspire, and Ignite. Everything I learned on my journey to self-empowerment I long to share with others.

Tell us a little bit about your Etsy shop.

Words are absolutely powerful–whether spoken, written, read, or heard in our minds. I have found that having a visual reminder of truth helps us to focus on that truth. And that is how my EmPOWordment Cards began. I wanted cards that would uplift and build self-esteem by providing affirmations and positive words to live by.

Two years ago when I started designing cards, I knew nothing about Etsy and Instagram or all the quotes that are so prevalent now, so was completely pulling from my own creativity and experiences.

Memes had just become popular, and I’d been designing them for my blog posts. My sister commented that I should make them into cards to sell. I wasn’t really sure about that idea, but because I wanted something to take to speaking engagements, and give out to others, I began to design cards to empower and build self-esteem—with words—thus the name EmpoWORDment.

I was a novice designer, using PicMonkey to create backgrounds and designs to showcase the all-important words. Many of my cards reflect my own journey. For example, “Don’t Let Anyone Ever Dull Your Sparkle” is very meaningful to me because for most of my life I allowed others to control and dim me. “I Was Born To Shine” is something I realized only a few years ago, and now I purposely tell everyone that we all have a unique light to shine in this world. I had just designed “Queen of Courage” when my sister was diagnosed with cancer. I dedicated that card to her. Every card has a personal meaning (and story) for me.

I truly love designing, and soon branched out into mugs, journals, note cards, a cute card deck that can be made into a garland, and this year I created a Sparkle & Shine calendar. It has monthly affirmations that are to be repeated every day of the month. Doing so will change your thoughts and help to create positive energy in your life.

My designs are colorful and sometimes quirky. They capture attention. They provide others with encouragement, self-esteem boosters, empowering words, and positivity. They often create emotion, because words ARE powerful!

What does empowerment mean to you?

Empowerment to me means living fully as your authentic self, free from self-limiting beliefs that control your behavior and hold you back. Empowerment can be a huge deal like the women’s march, or small, personal steps toward freedom.

My own empowerment began when I realized I’d believed lies about myself all my life. I believed that I was too emotional, not very smart, not worthy of love, was broken and unlovely, to name a few.  One day, in an act of courage and boldness, I finally told the lies in my head to “shut up!” and began purposely replacing them with what I call truths. If you care to read about that, go to https://particularpassions.me/2016/04/05/the-lies-that-bind-us/. The truths I began saying to myself are universal: I am enough, I am creative, I am amazing, I am powerful and strong, I deserve good things in life, and I am loveable. Our brains are quite amazing, and even if we don’t believe these words at first, when repeated often, our brain will begin to store them as part of our belief system. And that’s what happened to me! It sounds very simple, but it took me several years to get there.

All of my life I’ve been in love with words. A person can create visual images, emotions, and life and death, with words. The lies I’d been allowing to blow through my brain had been creating death to who I was created to be. When I began believing and acting upon the new truths, I became a powerful force to be reckoned with! I can now shine my light with purpose. And I know that I am “Amazing With A Side of Sprinkles”!

What is a quote that has inspired you lately and why?

Asking me, someone whose business is designed around quotes, to pick out a favorite quote is pretty tough. But I will tell you the one that has guided me for these last six years.
“Don’t tell me the sky is the limit when there are footprints on the moon!” by Buzz Aldrin, one of the first astronauts on the moon.

This speaks to me about not being limited. About doing those things I might think are impossible or out of my reach. And it says that there are amazing opportunities that I don’t see yet, just waiting for me.

 

If you could spend a day with any creative woman, who would you choose and why?

If I could spend a day with any creative woman in history we’d need a conference!! There are so many, many women that I
respect for their abilities, their hearts, and their authenticity. Sue Monk Kidd, a favorite author, wrote a book that transformed my life. Maya Angelou inspires me with her guts, strength, passion, and incredible ability with words. Meryl Streep continues to amaze me with her acting ability, her humor, her ability to embrace aging, and her love and compassion. Carole King began my journey of poetry set to music and she continues strong. See? There are so many. And what a conference THAT would be!!

What are some of your other creative interests?

I enjoy many other creative activities besides designing and writing. I love gardening and creating beautiful flowerbeds from which I can make “yard gatherings” bouquets. I write poetry. I sing. I paint on rocks. I sew. I have created a lovely home. I create memories for my children, through camping especially, and travel.

 

What do you enjoy most about being a creative woman?

What I enjoy most about being a creative woman is that days are never, ever boring! There is always something new to learn and try. I feel resourceful and I’m very grateful for the abilities that are mine. I try not to take them for granted, but use my gifts for the betterment of others. And I suppose that is one of the things I love most about being creative—I can help others see truth and become empowered. And I pray that as the creative force flows through me it will pour out onto others in a way that positively affects their lives.

 

 

 

Most of the cards shown above are available in my Etsy shop. The link is below.

Connect with me:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/EmPOWordmentCards (Etsy shop)

https://www.facebook.com/EmPOWordmentCardsbyMimi/  (Facebook)

https://www.instagram.com/mimimatthews.empowordmentcard/ (Instagram)

https://particularpassions.me/ (blog)

http://www.passionistaatlarge.org/ (website)

Inspiration, Living With Gusto

Life Ain’t Always Sunshine and Roses

So here’s the deal.

It’s NOT always sparkle and shine in my life.

There are days like this week when I am burdened for a precious friend and feel helpless in the situation. When I am a bit tired of working, parenting alone, being this age with kids, being indoors, wanting something fun, loneliness, just the keeping on keeping on.

And there are some days when the only prayer I can form is, “Oh God, oh God, oh God!”

That is the real truth, folks. I get in those places too.

I thought maybe you should know.

I never want you to feel as if I downplay your pain. Or suggest that your difficult situation can just go away “poof”.

But I post the positive things I do because SOMEONE needs to read them.

And in my inner spirit those things are ME. They are what I do to keep doing.

I smile, I pray, I spend time being thankful, I reach out to others, I help others if at all possible….

All these things help to center me and bring the “yuck” back into perspective.

I do know that when we fill our brains with positive thoughts,

we attract more positive energy to ourselves.

And that is what being thankful is about.

That is what “speaking to the mountain” (see previous post) is about.

We actually DO have a choice in how we spend our focus/energy.

And when I’m in a funk, I choose to spend mine by rejoicing in all the good I see around me.

Being thankful for the many, many good things in my life.

And realizing that these funks don’t last forever.

Two things I know–God is always faithful, and the sun will eventually shine!

Living With Gusto

Does It Seem Impossible?

Fear can keep you

from attaining something you want.

 

Whether you think it’s possible or not

depends on the way you see yourself.

 

Believe that you are capable of anything

and you will be.

 

Some days it feels like just getting through the day is impossible!

But don’t ya know? I make it every time, and then ta daaaa!!

It WAS possible.

 

Whatever hard task lies before you, take it one step at a time, and you will make it.

 

You can DO it!!

 

I believe in you, because I know you have the good stuff in you. You are glorious.

 

Here’s to moving forward.

Love and sparkle hugs, Mimi