giving

The Gifts that Keep on Giving

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Since we’ve been at home more in recent days (following social distancing and stay-at-home guidelines), passing the time has presented challenges. Yup, to put it bluntly, at times we are just plain bored.

My daughter had been asking to go shopping for painting supplies for about a month, well before the virus hit our home state. Then, like many other families, we went from extremely busy to having very little to do, but unable to go out and get much of anything that isn’t truly necessary.

So, I started rummaging.

And out came…watercolor paints (metallic, matte, at least 4 sets!), watercolor pads (in 2 sizes!), paintbrushes, pastels.  Voila! Art is possible.

Where did it all come from? When my kids were younger, in addition to the toys and candy-stuffed eggs, I would always put an art supply or two in their Easter baskets. Who knows why?  Just to balance things out.  Most of these art supplies were left on the living room floor along with the torn candy wrappers and cracked plastic eggs.  I’d eventually tuck the artsy stuff in a drawer along with the ones from the year before and all the other art supplies I’d collected through years of teaching, student-ing, and projects galore. Now, it’s all coming out to play.

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In these times of slower pace and waiting, many people are taking up old-fashioned pleasures.

Friends are asking, too…the group chat question about sidewalk chalk…so many people are chalking messages of encouragement or just drawing on the driveway with extra time.  And, lo and behold, of course I have a shiny unopened box of 48 Crayola sidewalk chalks! (I’ve probably had it for 5 years!) Sure, I will share them! Don’t thank me, thank the Easter bunny! (and, okay, my hoarding tendencies…which this whole situation does not help, by the way. But that’s a different post.)

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(Seriously, that big box of sidewalk chalk is in this Easter photo from 2011. Yes, 2011!  Over a decade ago!  Yikes!!!)

Add in a long-ago purchased rolling table from Ikea that I never set up and presto, it’s our own little mobile art station.  And we’re using the portion of the chalk we kept to cheer up outside.

Making stuff and sharing art and time are doing our hearts and minds good.  When I think of Easter coming in a couple of weeks, I am not sure what it will look like.  But for now, we are celebrating and sharing with creativity, with gifts from Easters past that are suddenly gifts all over again.

How are you passing any idle time, in old ways or new? Board games, card games?  Share in the comments!

 

 

 

 

 

dare to be different, giving, inspire

Making Local a Priority

This year I decided to make a goal to spend money with local small businesses. I actually track my spends and make a firm commitment to choose local and small even if it costs more for a particular item. I’m not going cold turkey on Amazon Prime by any means. Just making a percentage of my spend hit the local economy.

So far so good. I am excited about these choices. I am excited about helping a small business live another day.

I went to a local restaurant with friends. It had a good vibe and allowed pets in its outdoorsy environment. I decided I’d buy a t-shirt and gift card. Each was given to a different person to build the hype. Hopefully they will buy something and share their experience with a friend. It’s that simple to stimulate the local economy.

A friend works at a pet store, locally owned and operated. I have pets. I bought some special treats. Those treat make my pets happy but also helps my friend have a job.

My car needs an oil change. I can go to the corporate dealership but I like going to the local shop down the street. The service is good and I get to talk to the mechanic. I can’t get that attention at the dealership. I can even see the work getting done in the bay vs. sitting in a lobby with the TV or internet. Check out my photo above for a view of my mechanic’s shop where I happened to drop by when this sweet car was in for a little tune up. Not sure the year but it sure did have a pretty paint job.

It’s crazy what you can observe if you just slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of you. At the holidays many shop online to avoid the crowds. I get that, but then we miss the human interaction with the workers. We miss the smiles exchanged. We miss the crazy customer who gets mad when they can’t find something. Isn’t there a value in shopping in the muck of it all?

I am going to enjoy my community a little more this year by opening my eyes to what’s right in front of me.

Having a small business is hard work and when you read about one closing, you immediately think what went wrong? Well many things could go wrong but at the end of the day if I never went in to that storefront and bought their cup of coffee or their dog biscuits then I didn’t really help them have a fighting chance.

Big companies have strong leaders making key decisions and a boat load of funding. A small business is a family behind the scene. It means a kid getting to play little league or getting new shoes when mom or dad finally takes a paycheck. It means that business lives another day.

This month a local coffee house shut down as in went out of business. Is it a coincidence that Starb**** opened up next door inside Kroger’s grocery store? Probably not as folks may find it easier to get their latte while they shop vs walking a few doors down. Convenience is good but once a week visiting the local independent coffee shop could make the difference in the owner making their rent payment that month. Just food for thought.

This post could go on and on but the simple point is take a little bit of your monthly spend and divert to a local small business. It could be a hair salon, a nail salon, a restaurant, a bike shop, etc. it may not be the cheapest but I bet the owner is passionate about what they provide to the community.

While you are at it, give a local company shout out on the web. So many people read reviews. Make sure to note it’s a local favorite to build trust. Today I made my Saturday a small business Saturday and hit a locally owned place I adore called Pat’s Eatery. A place where you can sip coffee with friends for an extended period of time and the owner is cooking up a storm on his Saturday morning. The server is a long-time employee who must love her job because she is as permanent as the sign on the exterior of the building. It’s always a pleasure when she serves you. Smiles and conversations are a must.

Have fun experiencing your local community. Put your own special twist on this. Visit a farmers market. Buy from a local artist. Have a sales meeting a local coffee shop. Make a difference in community with the money you are going to spend anyway.

giving

Joy multiplies

Summer heat has arrived in Georgia. It’s zinnia season.

Fun fact about me:  I cannot grow anything.  I have been known to kill “maintenance-free” plants.

Everyone else in my family can grow things, though. So we have gardens in our yard sprouting flowers and food much of the year.

Zinnias are some of my favorite flowers. We’ve had small patches of them in the front and back for a while now. This year, without planting or any effort, a huge patch of them sprouted up in our front yard.

When we first got zinnias growing at home, I mainly wanted to watch them in the yard.  I never picked too many. I’d just enjoy them growing there for as long as I could.

After trying that for a while, here’s the cool thing I learned about zinnias:

The more you cut the blooms, the more blooms will grow.

So I try to cut all the new blooms a few times a week. I cut them just above where the stem splits.  These turn into a flood of endless bouquets that spread to friends from life, work, school, family, the gym, and so on.  And the more I cut them, the more blossoms appear and multiply.

It’s like the zinnias know you appreciate them, so they give you more of what you like.

When I think about it, many people are like that.  If you show appreciation for what they offer, they give you more of it. Gratitude matters.

With the zinnias, I also get to see smiles from friends who get a small gift of beauty and knowing they are treasured. Perhaps they, in turn, pass a bit of beauty or kindness along in their own way.

It really does not take much effort to brighten a day.  Joy multiplies and spreads.  Share some of what you have with others. Flowers, treats, even just a simple note can change a mood, an outlook, or make a challenging road more beautiful.

 

 

 

 

friendship, giving

Ordering for the Table

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“Can we get saganaki for the table?”

I said it, almost happily. And out loud even, not just in my head. I am usually not the person who orders for the table. Is it a confidence thing? Or just not knowing, second guessing what people might want?  Or someone else beats me to the punch, and takes that chance before me?  Or because right now I am watching what I eat and many times those appetizers are the friedest, sauciest, dippingest, most delectable nibbles that I know I struggle to resist?

The other day, as we celebrated a joyful event in the life of my amazing friend Milagros, we ended up around a table at a Greek restaurant.  Several people had never eaten Greek food.  There were menu questions, unfamiliar words, all kinds of questions and opportunities. (And yes, now I have learned that saganaki is a Greek-American invention, like fortune cookies, etc.)

Saganaki is a guilty pleasure for me. Cheese is a weakness in general.  I remembered when I did keto for a while last year I so enjoyed the saganaki at this restaurant (with no pita.) I figured, why not share this deliciousness with people who have never had it before?

So I did it, people shared it, and tried something new.  Some people thought it was just ok, others found it the same remarkable experience as I do. All of that is wonderful.

So, thinking back over the list above, what was my hangup before?  Probably some of all of them, but mostly lack of confidence gets in my way.  I worry what others might think or want, when really I just need to be bold and order and share what I enjoy with others.  They can try it or not.  In the past, when I haven’t taken the initiative to share, I’ve always felt like it was a missed opportunity to be generous.  Those missed chances I wished I had taken leave me feeling smaller.

I want to be the kind of person who orders for the table, at least sometimes.  And not to show off or be flashy.  I just want to be confident enough to share what I enjoy and stop second guessing myself.  I have no problem with the sharing part, and the confidence part is coming along a little more naturally these days.

Now I am wondering…What are some of the things you share with others that may expand their horizons, make shared memories, become new traditions? Not just food…reading, games, media, activities, and more? What are some new ways I can invite others to share life with me? On the flip side, am I open to trying what people want to share with me?  What do we have to lose?

No matter what, I am so grateful for celebrations and friends to share them with.  Enjoying events and company is so much of what makes life worthwhile.

And cheese makes all of that even better.

 

balance, giving, perspective

Holiday Smoliday

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This holiday season has looked a bit different than years past and different than I planned in my mind, but peaceful all at the same time.

This month I spent time on gratitude. I wrote hand written notes to those who made an impact on me. I shared some sweet Starbucks treats as an added bonus and it made me feel so happy to see the smiles for those who didn’t know they were coming.

I received as well. I met some girlfriends for an annual exchange event. It was a blast and I received some treasured keepsakes. A pickle ornament. Random but special. A notebook. A super secret notebook to pencil my ideas and visions. A bracelet. An intention bracelet that reminds me to love others unconditionally.  Stickers. Seems simple enough but they were motivating stickers. Power stickers to use as momentary reminders to take action. The infamous tank top. A bold statement given on a shirt to see if I have the brass to wear it in public. The answer is yes! My gal pals know me so well. They are also part of my inspiration. I continue to evolve as they support my goals and dreams.

I made my annual donations at Goodwill, coats to the homeless, books to kids and made some other charitable donations to warm my soul. Giving will always be part of my holiday season.

I spent some time rekindling with family and friends near and far. Sometimes when you only have the ability to make a call it’s still is better than no call at all. Technology offers the flexibility of FaceTime or Skype as well.

I cleared some clutter on the home front. Shifted some furniture and mindsets. I made some shifts personally and professionally to be aligned for the new year and all the crazy that 2019 has waiting for me.  Put up a new vision board to help focus on moving forward with vim and vigor. As part of this process I took some time to invest in myself as well. Nothing major, just aligning of key resources to support what’s ahead.

In order to be a strong leader, one must take slivers of time when they present themselves as opportunities to recharge your batteries. This could be in the form of pampering, it could be in the form of extra rest, some time alone, some time thinking, or maybe even a shopping spree. I won’t tell all my secrets here but I will stress the importance of self care. Self care is often overlooked and can cause stress for some.

I also emphasize the ability to give up control to gain control. Sometimes you battle so hard without seeing results, requiring you to let go in order forge ahead. This could be translated to business, personal or even relationships. Letting go can be hard but can be a necessity to reach the ultimate outcome you want or need.

The above leads me to risk. Every day one is faced with risk taking. Some take a cautious approach while others stare it down with optimism. I look at risk with ambition and optimism. I trust the process. I look ahead knowing what the worst could be, but smile at the thought of what can be.

As 2019 approaches for you, be fearless. Connect or reconnect with a loved one. Try something new that you have been putting off for whatever reason. Step out of your comfort zone and invest in YOU. The power of YOU is something you control!

I leave you with one of my cards from a vision board I use. It may help with any ups and downs you face in 2019.

More rants and blurbs to come in 2019 along with cool new projects on the horizon. #kt247

 

giving

Paying it Forward, Chick 2 Style

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Travel is such an important part of life. It’s a great way to spread your wings. I learn something new wherever I go.

This summer, I’ve had opportunities to visit a number of different cities.  I traveled to family celebrations as well as chased my daughters as they pursue their passion for lacrosse.

Whenever the schedule allows, we try to take time to enjoy the cities we visit.  Sure, we hit the famous spots and that is always fun.  On a recent trip to Nashville, we loved walking in the evenings, listening to lively music spill from the honky tonk windows and rooftops onto Broadway.  We spent time on the beach at a tournament in Lakewood Ranch, Florida, and rode roller coasters for a day at Cedar Point while visiting Cleveland, Ohio.

In addition to the major attractions, there are a few other things I try to do to get a closer sense of a place.  If I can, I shop a local market like Cleveland’s Westside Market. I try to get out into nature by visiting a park. Finally, I make an effort to have a cup of coffee at a local coffee shop.

We just returned from a few days adventuring in Nashville.  During my time there, I stumbled across Caliber Coffee Company.  I liked it so much, I went there two days in a row. Although the coffee was excellent, it was the friendly employees and energy that brought me back for the second time.

As you get to know our brand, you’ll see that the 2 Chicks are serious about giving.  We have given our books to kids in hospitals, food pantries, and low-income schools.  We’ve had support from generous readers and corporate sponsors.  This is just the beginning! We are always looking for new and inventive ways to give.  So, when I saw this board at Caliber and read that it was a way to pay it forward, I had to ask for details.

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Every sleeve clipped to the front and back of this ‘Shot of Grace’ board is a cup of coffee that was bought as a gift that day.  Some sleeves have names of local people on them. You can call or text the person you’re treating and let them know they have a coffee waiting.

But it was the other gifts that interested me even more. These sleeves are less specific. Instead of a certain person, they are made out to someone in need…a single mom…a freshman at the local community college…a newcomer to town…a daycare employee…a first responder…a step parent…a fireman…someone having a bad day. I imagined the smiles these tiny bits of thoughtfulness would bring to someone who needs a lift.

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I immediately thought of the 2 Chicks and our passion for giving. My imagination started spinning…who could I connect with using this opportunity? It didn’t take me long to decide.

I couldn’t resist the chance to encourage someone who may be thinking of telling their story.  The Chicks have found such amazing power in storytelling.  Although I don’t know where it ended up, I hope the coffee brightened someone’s day and encouraged them to share whatever unique and powerful story they have to tell.

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It also made me start to wonder again about new ways the 2 Chicks might connect and share.  I can easily get bogged down in details and logistics, but maybe giving doesn’t have to be as complicated as I think. As I was reminded again only yesterday, paying it forward isn’t only about the the news stories we see about the drive-thru at Chick-fil-a. Even more importantly, it’s the small, sincere acts of caring that are never noticed by the cameras but have an enormous impact nonetheless.

What are some of your favorite ways to pay it forward in your life?  What random acts of kindness bring you the most satisfaction? Let us know in the comments, readers!  Cheers!

-Beth, (aka Chick 2)

#2CHX  #2ChicksGiving #Payitforward #travel #lifelessons #reflection