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Sunday, November 16, 2014

PB & U


Journeyer, so much to report from this past week!
The work issue still stinks and two different law firms have said that, though what my supervisor did wasn’t legal, there’s not really anything they can do to help…
So, guess what I decided to do?
I’m going back to my union for their recommendation, which will likely entail a meeting with our superintendent to apprise administration of what’s going on, and then I’m going to LET. IT. GO.
I refuse to let the smarmy ways of another person dictate my mood; besides, the reason my boss blocked me from going anywhere was because my building is very happy with my work and according to them “they don’t want to lose me.”
Not exactly my kind of pat on the back, but, hey, it IS a sort of feather in my cap, now isn’t it?
I realized midweek that my morning ritual was consumed with a steady stream of the discussions I’ve had on this subject and that the chatter was making me tense and uptight.
Here’s what I did to combat that negative energy.

I put this sticker on my steering wheel, because that idle time driving seems to be when the mind stuff surfaces the most.
“BP” stands for Book Proposal, the very document I’m super excited about and have been working on to submit to the Hay House contest opportunity that came with the workshop I attended.
In other happy news, I had another appointment with the Spiritual Guru of last week’s Hypnotic Happy, this time for my first ever Reiki session.

This postal box at the elevator on the bottom floor caught my attention.

But realizing that the drop tube ran the entire length of this eight-story historic building made me feel downright nostalgic and curious about the occupants of long ago.

This time I also took a picture of that magnificent artwork I wrote about.

I honestly believe that these two sessions with her are playing a big part in letting go of the tension and angst surrounding this work stuff.
The timing of this more relaxed mood was brilliant, too, because Beauty came home for a few days and I was able to enjoy every nanosecond of our time together.

Those of U with children who've flown the nest and all you total empty nesters can appreciate the heartwarming feeling of finding your not-so-little-anymore child partaking in a little respite on your sofa.
Continuing backward through the week, I met with my chiropractor who took care of a sticking vertebrae and put my neck, spine, and hips back into proper alignment.

Warren and I had a busy therapy session, one that exposed some other areas that we can work toward bringing a little more parallel.
And though I’ve noticed this poster every time we entered the office, the images seemed most poignant.

That is one of the qualities that unite Warren and me: we both recognize the importance of being able to simply be one’s self.
Our area had its first dusting of snow and I was thankful that I had my long leather coat cleaned and conditioned during the summer months.
As I was taking the photo of the pumpkin, a flock of geese in the midst of changing formation flew overhead.

I smiled as I thought about the teamwork that goes into the long treks these birds make twice a year. Taking care of each other always makes me smile.
I had a nice long chat with Fave, who is going to sponsor the delivery of the #BestTeachersGifts award going to Charlotte! Shortly into our conversation, my boy said, “Hey, I’ll have to call ya right back.” Usually that means he’s receiving a call from someone else. But this time, when he phoned back he said, “Sorry, I’m cooking dinner and the smoke alarm went off. It’s happened several times and I had to shut it off before the people came.”
“Like mother, like son, huh?” I said, which caused both of us to chuckle.
U see, when the kids were little, I was notorious for setting off the alarm in our kitchen. Three hungry kids would always come running downstairs, “Is dinner ready?” This happened so frequently that we deemed the smoke detector, “the dinner bell.”

I captured this glorious sunrise at a stoplight one morning and half a mile past this intersection saw a deer and two fawns meandering through a stream that reflected back the sky’s colors and the natural beauty of wildlife and flora.

I had the most fabulous hair cut with a new stylist; two-and-a-half hours kind of magnificent. I met him at a recent TEDx event and thoroughly enjoyed hearing a little more of his story.
While I was there, I purchased some curling cream, which came in this bag.

Put together the first letter of each word… PB…
That night we celebrated Warren’s birthday. We’ve been so incredibly busy that he suggested we have everyone meet us at one of his favorite Chinese restaurants so that we didn’t have to cook. He loves coconut crème pie and lemon meringue, which Beauty and/or I usually make from scratch for him. Since we were keeping it simple, I settled on this magnificent looking Italian crème cake from Sam’s Club.

Yum
After dinner we walked the mall, where we found this gift for our friends’ son’s birthday and discovered these shocking and funny ugly sweater contenders.


They actually have miniature lights sewn into the material…
Yesterday I found a note I’d written about possibly contacting Balboa Press, which is Hay House’s self publishing division…and those two letters stood out… BP
I’ve no idea what all of the symbolism of this alphabetic combination means, but I’m excited to see where it goes. Who knows, maybe one of U with those initials will end up contributing to the special project we’re wrapping up right now!
This I do know, however, PB & J go together like Sonny & Cher or Donny & Marie or Oreos & milk…
In that same regard, this #BestTeachersGifts project wouldn’t be nearly as grand without the U…the Chicken of the Sea U, the Stephanie Weaver of Recipe Renovator U, the U who nominated educators nationwide, the Staples and Walmart U’s, and U who will sponsor the delivery of one of the six remaining out-of-state deliveries. YEP! We had so much product we were able to help twelve teachers!!

I'm including a list of the mentors that will be surprised with nearly two-hundred dollars in school supplies. YEP! We were able to turn Chicken of the Sea’s $250 pay-it-forward award into $2,000 in supplies with the help of other U’s like Staples and Walmart.

We’ll be hand-delivering packages to these New York cities: Groton, Elmira, Spencer-VanEtten, and Brooklyn.

I hope U’ll consider choosing one from the list below and help us get the shipment out the door and the packages into the hands of these deserving mentors!
Elverta, CA -  4th grade teacher
Mabank, TX - First-year teacher! 4th grade & early elementary Reading/Writing
Gwinn, MI – High School English teacher
Walla Walla, WA – Special Education long-term substitute nominated by the regular teacher!
Hartland, WI – High School English teacher
Florence, SC – 4th grade teacher
Box weights range from about 30-55 pounds. If you or someone you know would like to sponsor a delivery, please contact us at The Five Facets.
AND, here’s hoping U paused briefly to reflect on or capture in some small way those fleeting moments that made U laugh or smile or brought U some measure of peace.
Until next time, yours in hope, healing, and happiness…
     ~AE

Oh…and there was music…always music… America’s Sister Golden Hair, John Legend’s raw and beautiful All of Me plus many, many others… J

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Katie, a Kid's Teacher Needs You!

Dear Katie,
Maya Angelou once said, “When you learn, teach. At our best, we’re all teachers.”

I say, “We can learn something new every day, if our minds are open to it.” That means that day in and day out we are all students and we are all teachers…
I woke at 6:30 this morning, made breakfast for my daughter and husband who were headed out for one of their annual bonding events, and then I began a very special project of my own.


Those piles of supplies in the photo above began with this blog post, which turned into a dream project: to help teachers distribute materials to students who do not have the means to provide their own.
My vision became a reality much faster than I’d imagined, thanks to a pay-it-forward spirit that begins with Chicken of the Sea and a blogger named Stephanie Weaver, and spreads out from there…
You can read about both those posts here and here.
My plan was simple: Begin a nationwide search for nominations. Pick ten lucky teachers whose needs match the supplies I have, pack and ship boxes of pay-it-forward love and joy.
Fortunately for me, my website didn’t crash due to thousands of submissions.
Why?
Because every entry moved me in some special way and I would have had an even harder time choosing...
Parents nominating teachers.
Teachers nominating other teachers.
Teachers nominating themselves.
One teacher’s poignant entry moved me beyond measure. You can read what she wrote here.
But the greatest and I do mean THE ABSOLUTE GREATEST submission came from a student, the very subject for which this dream began.
A STUDENT, Katie! I can’t say it enough and I just can’t stop thinking about that relevance to this entire pay-it-forward endeavor, and the sheer volumes that are spoken in this young adult’s letter.
The student wrote AN ENTIRE PAGE, AN ENTIRE PAGE that sums up what every loving teacher hopes to accomplish at least once in his or her career.
It just gives me goosebumps…
All of these educators will be surprised when their packages show up to school with their names on them. I'm contacting administrators in each of the buildings, in the hopes that they will be able to do some sort of public presentation and spread the power of the pay-of-forward phenomenon.
I’m going to personally deliver the five bundles selected from my state and am seeking people who are willing to sponsor the shipments to the five schools that are spread out across the country.
But I can’t stop thinking about this one teacher and the past-student who nominated her.
Firstly, this student didn’t identity his/herself, so I’m working with the school to see if they can somehow find this nominator. If at all possible, I’d like that person included in the surprise presentation. But I want it to be so much more. I’ll be looking into having local media on hand to recognize the work of this incredible teacher and the enthusiasm and gratitude of her scholar. We need to shine a spotlight on some of Maya Angelou’s lifelong “learners.”
Can you think of anything more positive to headline the news?
As I worked on sorting these materials this morning, I just couldn't stop thinking that this one needs to be even more special.
That’s where you come in, Katie!
You see, this winner lives halfway across the country from me and as much as I’d like to be there in person, I just don’t see how I can.


But you can, Katie. You and your staff and your World 3.0 teams have the means to move those proverbial mountains, and to get there. You have the tools and the resources to capture the very essence of what teaching represents, to document a bond between student and teacher that will never be broken.
This student’s one page letter represents a link that will forever weave what education represents at its very core: threads that become imbedded into our hopes and dreams and desires and into our very purpose, those things that entwine student and teacher and education into a spark of passion that forever lies somewhere within us.
You are all about recognizing people who are changing the world through ideas. This teacher, an English teacher, changed the life of this one student with just that: Ideas.
Her ideas sparked in one child a love for learning and a desire to be the best self one can possibly be.
I would be honored if you’d partner with Stephanie Weaver, Chicken of the Sea, Staples, and The Five Facets to help us continue this pay-it-forward program!
Journeyer, YOU, no matter your name, are the missing link to bring this endeavor to a close and to help us bring a little Christmas cheer and some of the absolute best teacher’s gifts to five lucky mentors…
If you’d like to sponsor the delivery of one of these packages, or if you know someone who can, or if you have an way to make these presentations even more special, please reach out and let us know! Please send your interest and request to The Five Facets.
We have five packages to ship from central New York, going to CA, MI, WA, WI, and NC!
And thank you, Journeyer, thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart for being here and for anything you might be able to do to help!!
Until next time, yours in healing, hope, and happiness…

    ~AE

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Hypnotic Happy


Journeyer, I had the most amazing experience this past week…
Most of us are no stranger to stress, and I am definitely no exception.
With life already a bit crazy busy and a mounting saga at work, I knew I had to do something…
So I phoned a friend.
That statement alone makes me smile and tickles my happy organ!
I recently found out that a young woman I’ve known for years, peripherally through Fave, does hypnosis work.
I reached out.
She was as surprised to hear of the work I do with The Five Facets Philosophy on healing—learning to live our best life, even in the face of adversity—as I was to learn of her work both in the mental health and metaphysical realms.
Even better?
She and her partner have already put together one speaker event and she wants to include me in future events they are arranging!
Journeyer…that is what I like to call “the space between luck and misfortune!” Find that video here.
We’d communicated a few things prior to the session, which allowed her to tailor a script to my style and my needs.
On the wall was the most captivating painting that almost appeared to be in 3-D.
There was a glorious and elaborate rod-iron gate in the middle of nature, its doors slightly parted, an invitation to each passerby to enter the portal and embark upon a magical journey…
Of course I chose to focus on the artwork when she asked me to focus on a spot in the room.
And then…
She asked me to go some place where I felt calm and relaxed.
I chose the end of a pier, radiant sun overhead shimmered off the water, while vibrant vegetation swayed in the distance.
As I stood at the end of the dock, she said, “Imagine a white, puffy cloud coming toward you. It stops overhead. Place your stresses, one by one, on top of that cloud…”
I gently placed my supervisor on the cloud, and then a trying student I haven’t yet been able to reach, and then another…
A tenderness replaced tension, and a happy, joyous, send-off wave filled my imagination as Christy directed that cloud to float away with much of my angst aboard.
The cloud drifted off and I wave good-by like I did all those years ago when my grandparents pulled out of our drive after a visit from their home several hundred miles away.
And the even greater part yet?
I can return to that scene and send off my troubles any time I feel like it.
It’s what she called an anchor.
The other hypnotic suggestion was for me to form the okay symbol with my left hand and to hear the words, “It’s going to be okay.”
For my nearby friends, now you know why I’ve been spontaneously bringing my thumb and forefinger together. ;)
Guess what, Journeyer, you can do this at home!
Self-hypnosis.
Many, many years ago my racing mind prevented me from falling asleep for hours.
When sleep deprivation began hindering everything I did, I knew I had to do something.
Here’s what I did, and you can do, too!
Think of a place that brings you great relaxation.
I went to the beach.

Set a cue word, such as beach.
When you find your mind wondering or fretting, speak that word in your mind and then picture yourself there.
Repeat…
Repeat…
Repeat…
I likely repeated this several thousand times over the course of several months.
Each time we do this, we are able to imagine our surroundings a little clearer, we can see the sand and the water rolling in and ebbing back out…
Eventually you can bury your feet in the sand…feel its warmth on your feet, the sun on your face…
You can hear the sounds of the sea and feel the brush of that ever-present breeze…
And like those waters, you drift off into another time and place…to a peaceful slumber…
I once told this to a friend going through a divorce, and immediately she said she was going to her deck, one of her most cherished places.
Where will you go, Journeyer?
To some romantic spot abroad?
Nestle between the looming stalks in a cornfield?
Rest against a century old tree in the woods?
Float in a pool?
Lounge on your sofa?
Sit in a cemetery? (You might be surprised how comforting and quiet a cemetery is!)
In other words, where does your hypnotic happy take you?
Speaking of happiness, my other bright spots included a dinner out with Big Guy and Warren to support this year’s Project Graduation fundraiser.
My boy enjoyed a big, fat, juicy steak.

Warren had boneless wings.

I had a delicious Philly chicken quesadilla.

I attended another TEDx event where I not only caught up with creative friends and acquaintances, I listened to some amazing speakers with equally moving thought and talent, including a drag queen that told his story for the very first time and an eight-year old dancer who literally moved me to tears.

Afterward, Warren and I met for a dinner date out at a restaurant and brewery, where we shared this pumpkin beer…

Warren had a barbecue sandwich that came with chips and salsa, another family memory that always makes us smile.

I’m not usually an adventurous eater, but I have always loved every single morsel off their menu, so each time we go I try something different.
This time I had Fish tacos…a beautifully flaky Mahi covered in corn, a Jalapeno slaw (for flavor only…thank you, Chef!) and a homemade cream sauce…

Yum…
We enjoyed a lazy stroll through this town that glistened from the trees adorned with lights.
And I couldn’t help but pause to feel a little childhood giddiness when I saw this toy store display window.

Afterward we met up with a few friends at a local volunteer fire department’s turkey raffle and then came home for a long soak in the hot tub.
This morning, as I prepared breakfast for our little party of three, I found my kitchen filling with all of my family who showed up in that proverbial spirit…

You see, the griddle is a gift from my mom.

The bacon press a present from my step mother which reminds me of her and Fave, who always lights up when I’m cooking bacon, and who loves the press I gifted to him a few years back.
As I whipped up pancake batter I couldn’t help but think of Beauty, whose culinary flapjack creations are to die for!
She once made me carrot cake pancakes with homemade cream cheese syrup-butter-spread…
Is your mouth watering?
Happy happens in mysterious and delicious ways, doesn’t it, Journeyer?
What about you? What Moment(s) wafted or danced into your week? We’d love for you to share a morsel or two!
And, speaking of sharing, I’m not one who likes to ask for help, especially from people I don’t really know…but I could use a little help from my friends right now, and that includes you, my magical cyber friends.
If you have any knowledge of employment law, or know anyone that does, can you please e-mail me at thefivefacets @ aol (dot) com and let me know if it is legal for an employer to deliberately block an employee from obtaining other, gainful employment in one’s profession, when there is no non-compete clause in effect? Or to tell workers the only way they can secure another job in their chosen field is to quit the job they already have?
As I close this post, this song is running through my mind… “We get by with a little help from our friends…”
What a beautiful way to round out the week, don’t you think, Journeyer?

Until next time, yours in hope, healing, and happiness.

     ~AE

Monday, November 3, 2014

Tricks & Treats


Well, Journeyer,
This past week has been a big fat blur!
I’ve spent more time than I’d care trying to figure out the best way to handle a tough work situation…
I’ve been buried alive in business bookwork…
…designing project graduation fundraising flyers and typing minutes…
…assembling this donation—a child’s birthday party in a basket…

…and finishing the sorting of the entries for the #BestTeachersGifts pay-it-forward giveaway!
Accomplishing everything we have to do sometimes feels like we must have a few tricks up our sleeves to accomplish it all, doesn’t it?
In the midst of all that monotony were these deliciously happy moments…
Decorating for the annual Halloween party we host for Big Guy and his friends.


Though I stress little about the empty nest, I did feel a bit of melancholy set in as I watched them form the dinner line!
“This makes be sad,” I said to the boys, “our last Halloween party. Then, again, we can fix that, can’t we? You guys will just have to come home from college every Halloween so I can throw you a party.”

I can’t tell you how much I have enjoyed the many, many years watching these lads grow into fabulous young men.
I borrowed an awesome pirate costume from a coworker, one that came complete with a parrot and a treasure chest to fill with goodies!
Can you believe I didn’t take a photo of any of those things?!
Warren must have taken this rear-view when we were preparing to take the group photo. It’s not my best side, but hey, it is the season for the scary, right? ;)

Good relationships always feed our happy, don’t they?
Despite our crazy buys schedules, Warren and I continue to make the best of our time together.
Since I convinced him a few years ago to watch The Voice with me, he has grown rather fond of the show himself, and our recently purchased DVR system makes it all the more enjoyable for him as he doesn’t have to sit through commercials. Lol
We took advantage of one of these cooler nights and spent a good long soak in the hot tub and then we hung out with friends at two different community events.
At a local ELKS fundraiser, Warren and I both put tickets in this fishing basket for Beauty as she loves to fish and has won many fishing derbies and a number of tackle raffle baskets herself.
It's the only item we won!
Following that event, we caught up with a few more friends and hung out for a few more hours of fun and friendship!

I ended the week by volunteering at our school’s annual craft fair, where I was able to catch up with many people I often see only once or twice a year, like one of the nurses who cared for me after the delivery of all four of my children.
She still recalls the room I was when I was so sick during my pregnancy with Fave…
Though my first experience with her and the other nurse who was with her is that of Gavin’s death and the many days I spent recovering in the hospital, there are so many fond memories…
Like the excitement of the delivery floor staff when Fave was delivered without problems…
And the treat gift and balloons they put together for us to celebrate our son’s birth…
That is the beauty of joy, Journeyer, it nudges its way into every nook and cranny and encounter of our lives...and there it sits and waits for us to notice it, to give it credence…
It’s a bit like this cartoon my sis sent me on Friday.

Happiness often comes in the form of a surprise, random and unexpected and a purely serendipitous treat…
What about you, Journeyer, what Moment(s) fed your happy this week and provided you a treat or two alongside any tricks you might have experienced? We’d love to have you share them with us!
Until next time, yours in hope, healing, and happiness...



    ~AE

Monday, October 27, 2014

It's a Happy, Golden Day


One of my favorite toddler videos was one where they sang this sing-along:
It’s a happy, golden day;
come along let’s sing and play;
Singing makes us feel just great,
Sing a song that’s happy and bright…
too-do-doo-do...

It was a rare occasion that my children were cranky, ornery, or downright obstinate (though Big Guy has always flirted with those latter boundaries!), but every once in a while some form of bickering or irritability would rear its head.
When things seemed tense or strained, I’d break out into that song, which always managed to cause one of two things: laughter or eye rolling, though usually the former.
Humor is one of our greatest allies, especially when we are overworked, over-stimulated, and feeling under-appreciated.
These past months have seemed to fit that bill on more than one occasion, so I was rather appreciative that this past weekend didn’t require all of us being in different places at the same time.
As a matter of fact, Warren and Big Guy and I were all able to make the two-hour trek to see Beauty’s soccer team play one of their final games.
We set Sunday aside as a day for fishing and family camaraderie.
Warren made hotel reservations for Saturday evening, which was an even greater delight for me because I am usually the one to make all travel arrangements.
Though I love the outdoors, I have never been one to share the same enthusiasm that the rest of my family has for hunting and fishing.
That said, I wanted to be involved, so Warren took me for outfitting of a new pair of hip waders, which, accompanied by a favorite Body by Victoria bra and a few squirts of Allure helped keep me comfy and feeling cozy as we trudged along Trout Brook and Salmon River.

This video reflects thirty seconds of the soothing sounds and the glorious, golden views that stretched out before me all the day long…


video

I loved watching the excitement on my family’s faces as they landed their catches of the day…


This friendly chicken who followed fisherman down the road turned out to be equally entertaining!

A young Beauty once told me quite emphatically that we did not live on a farm because we didn’t own any chickens or goats.
When I told her there were different types of farms and she was referring to an animal farm, she informed me that SHE was going to have one of them one day.
This cuddly little fella, who belonged to the farmer across the street from the stream’s entrance and must certainly be a pet, rekindled her joyous desire!



This sky captured both mine and Warren’s attention as we left the grocery store one night!


I attended the opening week of a friend's toy store and found a few old fashioned games that I'm sure the kids will enjoy at our upcoming annual Halloween party!
Missing from the photo are a box of jacks (the REAL metal ones) & Tiddlywinks!

The photo on this Ronald McDonald House collection container reminded me how valuable we are to one another and made me smile as I thought about The Five Facets' motto: "We are neighbors in grief and allies in healing."

Healing truly does happen together!

One of my greatest happy experiences this past week came in the form of reviewing all of the entries that came in for The Five Facets' #BestTeachersGifts pay-it-forward giveaway!
So many of the nominations moved me in different ways, but this is one of two entries that drew me in and reminded me that this cause truly does mean what I’d always hoped it would mean…
I’d like to share with you what this teacher wrote.
When my boys prepared to start school each fall, we'd make our annual trip to a multitude of stores to purchase the needed school supplies. It was a time of great anticipation-- a brand new year, shiny supplies in hand, backpacks full, and the obligatory first day picture on the front porch-- they were ready. Sent off with love and excitement, my children landed their first day ready for the game, prepared for anything the grade might throw at them. It would be a great year. How I wish that every student in my classroom had such a start. Each year, more and more children arrive in my room without even a pencil. I have supplies to lend, but it is not the same. I simply cannot afford to keep up with the demand. I would be very grateful to be able to give these kids crayons and colored pencils to keep, folders to keep them organized and journals to keep track learning. Supplies kids could put their names on. Supplies of their very own-- and at the end of the year, they could take them home-- along with the picture I took of them on the very first day of fourth grade. Thank you for this opportunity. I hope to hear from you."
I’m narrowing down the entries, Journeyers! I’m hoping to begin sorting and boxing this week and aim to have these school supplies in the recipients’ hands sometime next week!
That makes me ever so happy!
What about you, Journeyer, what Moment(s) made you laugh or smile or simply created a golden nugget within your day? Would love to have you share one or more here! We never know how something so simple to one can be so profoundly significant for another…
Ready…Set… Share!
Until we meet again, yours in healing, hope, and happiness…

    ~AE