Priceless Notes

By: Shannon Boatwright

So, I think recent times have been incredibly stressful for many of us. As a teacher, my life has been especially busy, stressful and overwhelming. Nothing I can’t handle. But between major teacher observations, preparing for my big honors drama production next week – taking on the role of not only teacher, but director, producer, costume/set/props master, stage manager, media relations, etc. – plus, teaching my regular classes, and fulfilling my regular duties, the ten to twelve hour work days start to weigh on ya. All the work responsibilities are of course on top of family needs and activities. And I won’t even bother to go into the stresses of the recent election.

priceless-notes-left-on-my-white-board-at-school-from-students

All that being said though, it’s the smallest, most random acts of kindness that can lift one’s heart and help get one through the busy and tough times. They say the smallest acts of kindness make the biggest differences in a person’s life. Like a sweet smile, a genuine compliment, or someone taking the time to open the door for you and greet you; a kind note can light up a person’s world.

This has been the case for me lately. I don’t know if God and the universe whispered the need to those around me, but I have been blessed with random, precious notes of kindness in the past month that have warmed my heart, brought me to tears and given me the strength to keep moving forward, knowing I’m appreciated and loved. No lavish gifts necessary. It’s the little things in life. These tokens of gratitude and love, these lovely little findings that bring the biggest smiles and instill a positive energy in me that helps to remind me of why I do what I do.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-9-03-18-pm

Over the past month, I have gotten to school super early, before most teachers show, to get work done and prepare for my classes or rehearsals, and I’ll go to update my whiteboard and find these fabulous notes that my students have left on my board. And though some teachers may get aggravated that their board was messed up, I positively adore these notes they leave me. It is never easy for me to erase them when I have to. So, I always make sure to take a picture of their heartwarming notes, to forever cherish and to look at in those moments when I’m struggling.   

Just last week, two of my students from one of the fun academies at my school, called Random Acts of Kindness, busted into my Zumba fun academy while I was teaching. They had papers in their hands and smiles on their faces that truly lit up the room. With giddy excitement, they left these precious notes for me to read when I was done teaching. Their notes said that they were thankful for me, stating that I make them excited to come to school and that my class always puts a smile on their face and is the best part of their day. To read those words, written by a middle school student….whew, brings tears to my eyes. It’s what we live for as a good teacher. To know that I’m making a positive difference in someone’s life. To know that I’m inspiring someone and that someone appreciates what I do….it’s truly priceless!

priceless-note-from-the-hubby-on-my-mirror

I’ve also had the joy of coming across unexpected notes from my incredible family. Waking up to a note on the bathroom mirror written in lipstick by my sweet husband, finding a lovely note from my pre-teen daughter, hidden under her bed covers, because she knew I’d find it when I went to wash her bed linens, super cute handwritten notes from my son, letting me know he loves me… just seeing their handwriting and knowing that they’re thinking of me and love me – truly priceless. My daughter even left a random sweet note on my iPhone charger and I absolutely love it. My amazing Mama dropping by unexpectedly with an awesome gift and card, for no special reason, just to say she loves me! I’ve even gotten random texts from family members and dear friends saying hello, they love me and are thinking me. Those kinds of texts that make you respond out loud with a drawn out, “Awe….” and make you sit there wondering how in the world they ever knew you needed that sweet message in that moment. It’s all absolutely PRICELESS. Priceless treasures that fill my heart and soul.

screen-shot-2016-11-16-at-9-05-21-pm

Not only do these random notes of love and kindness fill me with positive vibes, replenishing me with faith and encouragement, but they also remind me of the power of random acts of kindness and they serve as a lovely reminder of the strength a simple positive message to another individual. They remind me to pay it forward and to make a conscious effort to spread the positivity, taking the time to recognize someone else’s hard work or voice my love and adoration for someone else. Spreading the joy… it works wonders, in so many wonderful ways!

I felt this topic was appropriate considering the time of year we’re about to enter. In sharing all this, as Thanksgiving is upon us, I hope that I can encourage others to remember that making the smallest effort of leaving a simple, sweet note for someone can make the biggest difference in their lives. Let others know you appreciate them, that you love them, and that you’re thankful for them.  Who could you leave a priceless note for? If you think someone rocks!, tell them. 😉 It’ll make you feel good, and I can guarantee it’ll make them feel good.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Here at the Every Woman Blog, we are thankful for you, our readers. Thank you for visiting the Every Woman Blog day after day, following our bloggers’ funny stories, momentous occasions, and reflections on life.

We hope you take time to reflect on all that you have to be thankful for. We wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving with those you love.

Thanksgiving
The year has turned its circle,
The seasons come and go.
The harvest all is gathered in
And chilly north winds blow.

Orchards have shared their treasures,
The fields, their yellow grain,
So open wide the doorway –
Thanksgiving comes again!

–Old Rhyme.

The Tree of Thanksgiving

 

By: Leah Prescott

Out of the entire year, the next few weeks may be my very favorite. The sugar high of Halloween is fading (the trick is: throw away just a few pieces of candy each day, so as not to arouse suspicion) and the full-on panic of the holidays has yet to fully descend. There is a peace and thoughtfulness in this season that I want to stretch out into the rest of my year. You see, I used to love November because it led up to December (and thus Christmas) but now I’m coming to appreciate it more for its own merit. As I grow a little older and (hopefully) a little wiser, I am finding connection to a depth of thankfulness I didn’t understand before. I’m realizing that gratitude isn’t about our circumstances or even despite of our circumstances. In fact, it has nothing to do with our circumstances at all!

As a Christian, I can give thanks for one reason alone: my God is King! (Psalm 95:2-3) That’s something that doesn’t change with my immediate surroundings or even with the turmoil of the world I live in. God is good, and worthy of thanksgiving! Just that knowledge alone lifts my heart and helps put everything else into perspective.

As I’m teaching multiplication and reading about the Renaissance with my little ones, I’m conscious that there are even more important lessons to be learned. I desperately want to give them the gift of gratitude and I welcome your suggestions. I want to share one way of doing so by creating a Thanksgiving Tree.

Thanksgiving Tree

This has been one of our favorite traditions that we have come to look forward to. We choose a few branches and display them in a vase. Throughout the next few weeks, we take turns hanging paper leaves on the tree with things we are thankful for written on each one. This is a simple but special tradition we look forward to, and it makes a beautiful centerpiece. At dinnertime, we read some of them and talk about all we have to be grateful for.

I hope your November is peaceful and full of gratitude!

Beyond the Thanksgiving Table

By: Katie Austin

In just a few short days, Thanksgiving will be here and we will be gathering around the family table to feast and reflect. This is by far one of my favorite holidays, not just because of the delicious food that will be savored, but more importantly because we will be with family and friends. We will each pause for a few minutes to answer a simple question: What are you thankful for?

Give thanks

A simple question with many possible answers. A question that is asked every year at this time when we gather around the holiday dinner table. What am I thankful for? My thoughts also include who I am thankful for.

As I sit here typing my next installment for the Every Woman Blog, I begin to ponder possible answers to this question. There is so much that I am thankful for! How do I sum it up into a few short sentences? Maybe the answer to the question is no one answer? The intent of the question is for you to reflect and let those close to you know how blessed you are to have them in your life.

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received.
Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling.
Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.”
– Henry Van Dyke

 Then, as I execute the next keystroke on my laptop, it hits me. I get it now. The question I should also be asking is not just “what” or “who” I am thankful for, but “when” am I thankful. It’s like I reached up and turned on the light bulb over my head! I understand now.

What about the other 364 days of the year?

Yes, we should each take time during the holiday season to be thankful, but this should extend past the Thanksgiving table. Gratitude is good for us. Feeling grateful every day is an attitude.

When you sit down with your loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner, be thankful for what and who you have been blessed with in your life. Cherish time spent together. Soak up the day and create new memories. Then, when the day is done, find ways to be grateful as a part of your daily routine.

Here are a few easy ways to work gratitude into your daily life:

  1. Spend time with family and friends. Schedule time to spend with those you love not just during the holidays but as often as you can. If family and friends live out of town, plan time to catch up over the phone, by texting, on Facebook, on Skype, or any other method that works. Life can change in an instant, so be grateful for time spent with those you care about.
  1. Volunteer. There is no greater gift you can give than by lending a hand. I look for volunteer opportunities once each quarter. This way, I am involved in my community at least 4 times a year. The community is grateful for your time and you will be thankful for the opportunity.
  1. Empower yourself. Instead of expecting the worst from life, expect the best! Take charge of your own destiny. Be thankful for every day you open your eyes and have the opportunity to do something wonderful!

Wishing each of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and I am so thankful to be a part of the Every Woman Blog family!

Give Thanks for Leggings and Salsa (And Some Other Important Stuff)

By: Lara Winburn

Thick-and-Chunky-Salsa1I am very blessed, and I am thankful every day for my life’s many gifts. I am thankful for the best friend and partner that I am married to, the precious babies that call me “mommy,” a best friend that keeps me sane, a good job with good people, a roof over my head, and many sweet friends strung around the world that keep me updated with their many “statuses.”

But there are a few things that I am thankful for that are a little less traditional. Maybe they’re even a little trivial, but worth giving thanks for all the same.

In the World of Fashion

I am thankful…

…for the wedge. I am 5’4 and have no tolerance for uncomfortable stilettos.

… that leggings and tunics are still on trend (not just skinny jeans). I am especially thankful for those this Thursday around 3 p.m.

…for the long and flowing maxi dresses (see craft beer and chips & salsa below).

In My Mommy World

I am thankful for…

…that time between 8:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. when both kids are asleep and truly look like cherubs.

…the “sleep sheep” (though I will never understand, nor be able to explain, why that sheep can make a whale sound).

…more modern technology: DVD’s in the backseat on long road trips.

In Some Space and Time

I am thankful for…

…when I can visit the restroom alone, not necessarily for any particular reason, just to grab a moment to be alone.

…the ride from daycare to work when I am quiet and optimistic that today will be the day that I am organized, thoughtful, and full of grace….before reality sets in as I realize I have on different shoes or forgot to sign a permission slip.

In the Kitchen

I am thankful for…

…chips and salsa, salty enough to make my hands swell.

…caffeine to help with the less-than-cherub times – normally between 2 a.m.- 4 a.m. –with my one-year-old. Sometimes he hates sleep and me.

…the emergence of craft beer (see forgiving fashion trends above).

…the occasional cold Diet Coke, so fizzy it burns. Please do not tell me how bad they are for me; it falls on deaf ears and the damage is done.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with all of the big things: love, family, and time together. I also wish you a side of quiet time with long naps, stretchy sorta-pants, and a craft beer –  or at the very least, a quiet trip to the bathroom and enough caffeine to keep you going.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Clean Eating Thanksgiving Tradition

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

cranberry sauce

Since I’ve only been really cooking a few years, I have yet to build a huge arsenal of clean holiday foods. This recipe for Lemon Cranberry Sauce is the exception to that rule. I found the recipe in Clean Eating, and I’ve made it for at least the last three Thanksgivings. I’m making it again this year for both my work and my family Thanksgiving. I found Sucanat at Whole Foods, but I’m sure it’s available in other healthy food stores.

LEMON CRANBERRY SAUCE

Serves: 10

Hands-on time: 5 minutes

Total time: 20 minutes (plus chilling time)

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 3/4 cup Sucanat
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

Using a vegetable peeler, remove zest from half of the lemon. (NOTE: Remove colored part only, avoid the white pith.) Cut peel crosswire into thin slices. Save remaining lemon for another use.

Set aside 1/2 tsp lemon peel. In a medium saucepan on medium, combine remaining lemon peel, cranberries, Sucanat, 3/4 cup water and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until most cranberries have burst, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a resealable container or serving dish and set aside to cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator. Serve chilled. Before serving, garnish with reserved 1/2 tsp lemon peel.

Nutrients per serving (3 tbsp Lemon Cranberry Sauce): Calories: 73, Total Fat: 0 g, Sat. Fat: 0 g, Carbs: 18 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugars: 16 g, Protein: 1 g, Sodium: 57 mg, Cholesterol: 0 mg

Thanksgiving Traditions

With Thanksgiving only two days away, we wanted to hear how you, our readers, celebrate Thanksgiving. We asked the Every Woman Bloggers about their favorite way to celebrate the holiday. Check out what they had to say and then tell us about your own special traditions. Do you cook a special recipe every year? Play football before the big meal? Simply enjoy connecting with your family? We want to hear!

Thanksgiving

Katie Austin

Our Thanksgiving tradition is to get the family together for dinner and take our turn telling each other what we are thankful for. Beside the scrumptious food, that is my absolute favorite part about Thanksgiving. Then, after we have eaten dinner, we gather around to watch football or play a board game. At the end of our Thanksgiving gathering, I find myself taking in all the wonderful moments that make our family special.

Brady Evans

Our family doesn’t have any long-standing traditions. A part of me always wanted something concrete to depend on like getting the Christmas tree, watching the parade, or visiting with a specific group of relatives.  We, however, drift around on Thanksgiving, visiting different arms of the family each year in no set pattern. Meals vary from being catered to being eaten in a restaurant to being eaten at home and though the Macy’s parade is always on in the background, no one pays close attention. So I guess the tradition has become just spending time with our loved ones, whomever they may be.

Crissie Miller Kirby

Our tradition varies from year to year. We alternate Thanksgivings, spending one year with my family, and the following year with my in-laws. Regardless of where we are, the day is about being with family, catching up and just being together; something we all need to do a better job of.

We continue the Thanksgiving holiday by traveling to Monetta, SC and choosing a live Christmas tree from Tom Sawyer’s Christmas Trees. If we are in the Midlands for Thanksgiving, we get our tree that day. If we are on the coast for Thanksgiving, then we typically go out before Thanksgiving, tag our tree and go back when we return to actually cut it down and take it home.

Mary Pat Baldauf

For years, my family celebrated with my grandparents and extended family members at my grandparents’ house. Perhaps one of the most cherished traditions was the “kids’ table,” a card table with mismatched chairs where the grandkids ate. Over the years, the grandkids grew up, but we still always ate at the “kids’ table.” One year, we mixed things up and some of the kids got to sit at the “big table.” You know what we found out? The kids’ table was a lot more fun. We have sadly lost my grandparents, and we now celebrate Thanksgiving with family friends. They, too, have a kids’ table, and each year, I rediscover its magic as I take my seat there, a forty-seven year old “kid.”

Elizabeth Webber Akre

I’m not sure exactly when this started, but I think it was sometime in the 80’s. One year my Aunt Jennie made a sweet potato in which she mashed the potatoes with some orange juice concentrate, topped them with a sweet pecan topping and baked them. From the first time these showed up, it became THE ONLY sweet potato dish accepted by any of us. Aunt Jennie always gets this bashful look on her face because she says it was just some recipe she picked up one day and made. But, like it or not, they have become well-known to many, even to those outside of our family, as simply “Aunt Jennie’s Sweet Potatoes.” 

My Aunt Jennie’s sweet potatoes have become the end-all, be-all sweet potato dish. In 1988, I spent my fall semester living with a family in Rennes, France. On my Thanksgiving phone call home, I learned that my mom had offered to make the sweet potatoes that year, AND SHE DIDN’T MAKE AUNT JENNIE’S RECIPE. Seriously, I heard about it from my sister, each cousin who got on the phone and, most emphatically, from my Uncle Tommy (married to Aunt Jennie). Yes, everyone was most displeased. Lesson learned. I think the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”