With Gratitude…

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Hi Friends!

It was the perfect opportunity to practice being present, my ‘One Little Word’ for this year. While cruising under brilliant, blue skies, above the puffy, white clouds at 37,000 feet yesterday afternoon, I intentionally tuned out the other passengers, the movie, and my book. I felt completely present as I gazed down at the view from my window seat

As we left the Southwest,

I focused on the rugged mountains and long, winding rivers flowing in ribbons

through the sparse desert landscape.

(I intentionally resisted the urge to grab my camera so many times. Not an easy thing for me!)

Over the Great Plains,

I studied the patchwork of farmlands, stitched with an occasional narrow road,

creating a true American quilt

in the loveliest Autumn colors.

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As we approached the Midwest,

sunset saturated the sky with a perfectly blended,

inky palette of

seedless preserves, fired brick, and spiced marmalade.

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Moments later, the night sky revealed just one twinkling light below.

Soon more tiny lights shone from small towns,

and before long we admired the

sprawling, sparkling grid of of Chicago’s lights below us.

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Three hours spent just being

present

was such a powerful gift!

There was time to intentionally reflect on

each ‘One Little Word’ from years past, as well…

Breathe (2012), Grace (2013), and Blessings (2014).

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From my window seat yesterday,

I counted the blessings of freedom and liberty

as we flew over our land.

I thought about the price of our

freedom and liberty.

I thought about the sacrifice of so many heroes.

Those brave men and women

who sacrificed so much for our freedom.

I thought about the important lessons that I have learned

while volunteering to help our military families.

When one family member is serving in our Armed Forces,

the entire family makes a huge sacrifice

for our freedom.

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Today, on Veterans Day, we honor and thank

all of those brave heroes

who have served our country

in the past

and those who serve our country

today.

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We are so proud of the brave Army Veterans in our family…

my father-in-law who served in the South Pacific in World War II,

my father who served in Korea,

my uncle who served in Vietnam,

and our cousin who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a Marine.

We honor and thank them for their sacrifice!

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I am so grateful for the Veterans who came to visit my classroom

over the years.

Brave servicemen and women who taught us all

about sacrifice ~

time spent away from their families

to keep our families safe.

Heroes, one and all.

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We all hope for the day when brave men and women

around the globe

will no longer be sent into harm’s way.

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Until that day,

young men and women

will continue to make sacrifices

for our freedom.

Yesterday, seated with us in Row 27,

we met one of the newest members of our military.

Hunter

 was flying to ‘boot camp’

at Great Lakes Naval Base.

He was so excited

about the next four years of his life.

During ‘boot camp’ he will miss

his 19th birthday celebration,

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s with his family and friends.

These are just a few of the small sacrifices that

Hunter and his entire family

are making for our freedom.

With gratitude,

I shook his hand and said,

“Thank you so much for your service.”

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As a nation,

we have the opportunity to serve our Veterans,

by providing them with better healthcare benefits,

safe places to live, and more job opportunities.

Each one of us can share our gratitude

by thanking the Veterans we meet

every day!

☆☆

With much gratitude,

♡ Dawn

                                                             P.S. How do you honor our Veterans throughout the year?

Treasure Hunting

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Hi Friends!

September has been a month filled with treasure hunting here!  I’ve enjoyed early morning walks through our perennial gardens hunting for the prettiest blossoms to fill antique Mason jars and stoneware pitchers.  We have wandered through our favorite antique fair out in the country to find treasures. Yet the most important treasure hunting has happened right here, in our cozy, little bungalow. That’s where the real magic is happening…

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In the Springtime, I was so inspired as I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.  I couldn’t wait to follow her step-by-step plan to declutter our closets! The KonMari Method teaches us to discover the things in our home that truly ‘spark joy.’ Only these treasures should be saved. By the end of the Tidying Up celebration, a home will contain only those things that fill us with joy and happiness!

So, I marked my calendar to begin my own Tidying Up celebration in September, as the garden began to slow down. Rather than working room-by-room, KonMari teaches us to work category-by-category, beginning with clothing. It works like magic!

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After gathering all of my clothing in one place, I held each item, to discover whether or not it still ‘sparked joy’ in my life. This required being truly present, so that I could actually feel physical sensations of joy. KonMari advises working in a quiet space, rather than playing your favorite music, which might interfere as you are being mindful of your physical reaction to each item. Instead of looking for things to give away, the focus is on saving the treasures in your home. The KonMari Method is truly working!

Thankfully, no one was around to hear the conversations I had with each item that I released! 🙂

If you had be there, you might have heard…

“Thank you for bringing me so much happiness as I wore you on the first day of school for several years!” (as I held up my favorite blue, floral dress, with the big pockets)

“I had so much fun dancing when I wore you to Makenna’s wedding, and I hope someone else will feel the same joy when they wear you for a special occasion!” (as I held up a long dress filled with the most beautiful, old-fashioned flowers)

“What fun it was to wear you to school on cold, winter days. Hopefully, the next person who wears you will hear the same compliments about how pretty they look in this sweater!”

and so it went, as I carefully folded the items of clothing that no longer sparked joy.

The more clothing that I folded to donate to charity, the happier I felt!

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Bags quickly filled up and I felt so happy as I dropped them off at Goodwill.

(As the helpful worker unloaded my car, I smiled and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be back soon!) 🙂

Workout clothes in drawer, organized the KonMari way

My workout clothes are organized the KonMari way. Now it’s so easy to find what I need quickly!

The KonMari Method of organizing drawers is quite unique. Now I know a better way to fold socks! Folding clothing as she teaches, lets you see everything at a glance, prevents wrinkles, and respects your clothes for the work they do for you. It’s lovely! Sometimes I just open my drawers to take a peek… and smile!

Susan Branch book collection

Heartwarming treasures that truly ‘spark joy.’

Books were the next category to Tidy Up. Again it was necessary to hold each book, to determine if it still ‘sparked joy.’ When I held a Susan Branch book, a favorite gardening book, a Christmas book, a biography of Beatrix Potter, or a book filled with tea party traditions, I could feel the ‘joy’ warm my heart. These were the treasures that I would definitely save!

It was time to release many other books.

I knew they would be appreciated by other book lovers.

Once again, KonMari helped me practice the words I needed to say as I held each book…

“I loved reading this book, and now I hope another reader will enjoy it, too. If I want to read it again, I can find it at the library!”

“Thank you for the joy that my friend felt when they bought this book and wrapped it for me, and the joy I felt when I opened this gift. I was happy to read this book, and now I hope it will make someone else feel just as happy!”

“Someone recommended this book but it just wasn’t my ‘cup of tea,’ so I never finished it.  It’s time for someone else to enjoy this book now.”

and so it went as I made stacks and stacks of books to donate.

Stacking up books to donate

Stacking up books to donate

We took many big bags of books to our favorite used book store.

We decided to donate them to a place where avid readers might find them.

It felt really wonderful to give away so many books from our shelves!

Currently, I am working to declutter paper files. It is a much slower process than going through clothing or books, and will take some time to complete. Again treasures have appeared, as I came across special photos, old letters from dear friends, and a few paper Euros for future travels. The photos will be saved for a scrapbooking project and the letters are filling a basket to read one more time with a cup of hot tea, before I bid them farewell. My reward for going through paperwork is the whirring sounds of our paper shredder and new, open space in our files!

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Working category-by-category through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up

There is still a lot of magic ahead of me. KonMari teaches how to go through Komono (miscellaneous items) and sentimental items throughout a home. As a sentimental girl, I know that will be the most difficult part of Tidying Up. I often remind myself that I’m looking for treasures to save, rather than thinking about items that will be discarded.

As a scrapbooker, I’m NOT planning to discard photos as KonMari suggests. My photo albums, scrapbooks, and framed photos are true treasures! My dear husband has been carefully scanning them to preserve our precious memories. I’m looking forward to using these photos to document our lives and tell our story. Our stories truly do matter and will always ‘spark joy’ in our family!

After the careful discarding of items concludes, the KonMari Method teaches us about storage. She cautions against buying more storage units, which just leads to keeping more unnecessary items. KonMari explains that clutter develops when things don’t have a designated ‘home.’ It will be interesting to try her storage suggestions!

The Internet has been all abuzz about Tidying Up for several months now. The audio book has made its way to You Tube. So many people are sharing their Tidying Up photos on social media. It’s fun to see others documenting their journeys because I know just how wonderful it feels. Although the Tidying Up process takes time, it does feel like a real celebration!

I’m so grateful that friends have been sharing their journeys with me. I feel so blessed that a small group of nearby friends are getting together to share our discoveries, challenges, surprises, and funny stories about the Tidying Up process! We will be there to encourage one another to keep the Tidying Up celebration going! Do let us know if you live nearby and want to join in! 🙂

In January 2016, an illustrated, companion book, Spark Joy, by Marie Kondo will be released. It’s good to know that continued, expert guidance is on the way. There is a very good chance that I will still be treasure hunting into the new year!

It’s a wonderful mindfulness practice.

It feels so good…

 Positive, happy, celebrations of new beginnings have always been just my ‘cup of tea!’ 🙂

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Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up?

Are you curious about the KonMari approach to decluttering?

If you are Tidying Up at your house, please let us know how it is going!

Choose joy!

♡ Dawn

A Peaceful Walk…

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♪♪ (Please listen to the Mindfulness Bell here as you read. Allow the Bell to chime once at each photo.)

Hi, Friends!

 A peaceful walk,

on Saturday afternoon,

was a treasured

souvenir

of summer’s swan song.

We discovered a lovely

Peace Path

that wound through a magnificent prairie,

planted with native Illinois grasses and woodlands.

We walked slowly,

hand-in-hand,

between

Father Sky and Mother Earth,

mindful

of our

blessings,

feeling

present

and filled with

gratitude.

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Join us for a

walking meditation

along the Peace Path

as we pause

with intention

at each place along the path,

to ring

the meditation bells,

mindful of our powerful connection to nature.

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The Peace Path winds through

the grounds of the Tau Center.

Both indoors and outdoors,

this peaceful place

welcomes individuals and groups

of diverse spiritual traditions

to nourish

body, mind, and spirit.

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Breathe in a moment.

As one season slips into the next,

may your heart be filled with peace and gratitude.

Namaste.

♡Dawn