Create a grateful heart

flower heartHalloween treats, stern Pilgrims, red-suited Santas and dewy-winged angels fought for shelf space recently as I stood in line at the grocery store. I shook my head to see these seasons blurred together. I realize this is the time of the year when the shoppers are out in full force looking for bargains. And the retailers are fighting fiercely to have us spend our dollars with them. I understand the economics, but I’m frustrated too.

I’d like to experience only one cherished holiday at a time. 

There is one season I will celebrate all year long  and that is the season of giving thanks. Being grateful for everyone and everything in my life…of course, my health, my family, being able to do work that I love and help the wonderful people in my life with my gifts. I’m privileged to have learned what is really important to me and I’m on a mission to encourage everyone I meet not to wait until they have a health crisis to take care of themselves. My health crisis certainly was my wake-up call. I don’t want you to have to wait until then to wake up to the glorious life you are not living!

 “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.” Meister Eckhart

I heartily agree with the sentiment of that quote. I invite you to have a grateful heart for the blue in the sky, the breath in your body, the smile of a child, the tea in your cup, the love in your life, the faith in your soul, and the dreams of yet to be.

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

My Family Story

Ross, Mary Tess, 11.84

November is the month we celebrate National Memoir Month along with National Adoption Month.  This post is a story of both memoir and adoption. Come along as this “slice of my life” memoir gives you a glimpse into when my husband and I embarked on our journey to parenthood over three decades ago.

As a little girl, I changed my doll, Baby Tears, diapers and dreamed of having a real baby of my own some day. I could never have imagined how our quest to have a family led to so many unanswered questions.

The why (unexplained infertility) became how (adoption interviews and reams of paperwork). Next, the waiting game. I chose to spend the time getting my college degree during that almost four-year period. Finally, our who, a 6-week-old bundle of joy with sparkling blue eyes and blond fuzz the same year I graduated from college.

Adoption Prayer

“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.”
— Fleur Conkling Heylinger

I believe parents and children are divinely matched heart-to-heart. As a result, they become a family. True, social workers had more to do with our “match” than DNA when it came to the agency’s process of creating our family. My daughter and I have a mole in the same spot on our left arms, a fact that I regard as Spirit’s kiss and proof to me of our special bond. Spooky coincidence? No, synchronicity at work I assure you.

Whether you argue Nature vs. Nurture or grace, gratitude and gumption in generous proportions determine the love, compassion, and empathy necessary to create a strong family bond, I’m forever grateful that we are a family.

Family holds our hearts and helps us cope with whatever comes tomorrow.

I invite to use everything you’ve got to connect with those who are waiting to hear your story. You never know what part of your story is exactly what they need to hear to know that YOU are the solution to their dilemma.

[Coaxing Creativity Tip] Here’s to pumpkin eaters

I don’t know about you, but all this talk about pumpkins has gotten me very hungry for my favorite kind of pumpkin treat…no, not pie. I love pumpkin bars. You know, the kind with thick cream cheese frosting. So, I went to my battered recipe file, pulled out the Here’s what’s cookin’ index card with my crisp 1973 secretarial handwriting, and looked over the list of ingredients to share the idea with you here.

When I look at my recipe box, it’s like a visit with family and friends. I cherish the pieces of paper with Grandma Emma’s handwritten instructions to make sure the bacon is crisp on her German potato salad. Or, to drain the doughnuts well before you sprinkle them with powdered sugar. I am grateful that I was able to learn so much about baking from her. She was so creative in the way she was always eager to try a new cake or bar recipe and then tweak it a little to make it her own. 

Pumpkin bars:

  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 cup canola oil
  • 1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ICING:
  • 1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons cream (half ‘n half)

Directions

  • In a bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin until well blended. Combine the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda and salt; gradually add to pumpkin mixture and mix well (as if you were making a cake). Pour into an ungreased 15-in. x 10-in. x 1-in. baking pan.
  • Bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes or until set. Cool completely.
  • For icing, beat the cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Add enough cream to achieve spreading consistency. Spread over bars. Store in the refrigerator. 

Enjoy!

[Friday Five-Minute Writing Prompt] I’m grateful for…

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13221972I’m grateful for…

Friday five-minute writing prompt.

Right this minute, without hesitation or careful consideration, write for five minutes about the first thing that pops into your head after you read the phrase:   I’m grateful for...

Take out a fresh sheet of paper. Natalie Goldberg uses a “fast-writing” pen. I suggest using your favorite writing instrument and an unlined piece of colored paper for fun. I use a fountain pen with purple ink. Some folks opt to use their computer. If that is your preferred method to write, then just open a new word document on your computer and go for it. The point is to keep your fingers moving for five minutes and not stop. I want you to experience how much writing can be accomplished in a short period of time.

If you get stuck, just repeat the writing prompt – I’m grateful for… Or any other phrase that is comfortable for you. Do not stop to edit, correct spelling, look up a better word, or rearrange a sentence. Do not question what comes up in the five minutes:  this doesn’t make sense, where did that come from, or what a crazy notion. This is a timed writing exercise so be sure to set the timer on your watch, phone, microwave, computer, or kitchen stove. Whether you use an egg timer, a No. 2 pencil and spiral notebook, your iPad, or even your iPhone, the theory is the same. Keep your hand and/or fingers moving and have fun taking dictation from your unconscious self. Make a list, hum a tune, write a poem, or create a short, short story. This is your time to explore and experiment. 

Let the words flow!

Photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

A Story of Family

Ross, Mary Tess, 11.84Adoption Prayer

“Not flesh of my flesh, nor bone of my bone,

But still miraculously my own.

Never forget for a single minute,

You didn’t grow under my heart – but in it.”
— Fleur Conkling Heylinger

November is the month we celebrate National Memoir Month along with National Adoption Month.  This post is a story of both memoir  and adoption. Come along as this “slice of my life” memoir gives you a glimpse into  when my husband and I embarked on our journey to parenthood over three decades ago.

As a little girl I changed my doll, Baby Tears, diapers and dreamed of having a real baby of my own some day. I never could have imagined how our quest to have a family led to so many unanswered questions.

The  why (unexplained infertility) was replaced with how (adoption interviews and reams of paperwork). We were advised it could take some time to find the best placement for us. I choose to spend the time getting my college degree while waiting for our child. We were introduced to our who, a 6-week-old bundle of joy with sparkling blue eyes and blond fuzz the same year I graduated from college.

I believe we are matched, parents and children, with who is destined to become our family. True, social workers had more to do with our “match” than DNA when it came to the agency’s process of creating our family. My daughter and I have a mole in the exact same spot on our left arms, a fact that has always been Spirit’s kiss and proof to me of our special bond. Spooky coincidence? No, serendipity I think.

Whether you argue Nature vs. Nurture,  or grace, gratitude and gumption in generous proportions determines the love, compassion and empathy necessary to create a strong family bond. I’m forever grateful that we have been given the opportunity to become a family.

Family holds our hearts and helps us cope with whatever comes tomorrow.

May you and yours enjoy a blessed holiday season.

Show November Your Grace, Gratitude & Gumption

 

Happy woman with stretched arms in flower fieldAs we enter November our thoughts may turn to time spent with family and friends gathered for a festive affair, or the first inkling of overwhelm in anticipation of daily To-Do lists to ensure everyone in our life has a wonderful holiday. Now is the time for you to put a new plan into motion to assure that this year will bring you tidings of comfort and joy along with comfy slippers and new PJ’s. Ask for grace, express gratitude and show your gumption by taking care of yourself in the midst of all the holiday happenings. When you are making your list remember to include Hot Chocolate breaks on your errand runs, schedule a Christmas classic movie marathon while wrapping gifts, and observe silent nights while watching the evening sky for one special bright shining star.

Gratitude journal by mary.e.knippelWriting…in your journal not just on that To Do list…is a great way to diffuse that holiday stress before you come to the end of your fuse.

The act of saying thank you has great power in it, whether it is to the Universe, a Diety, your spouse, sibling, child, friend, co-worker, or writing it in your Gratitude Journal acknowledging what you are grateful for, and blessing everyone and everything involved. 

I am grateful for the support of all of you like-minded women who are helping me build this community…a community of  women ready to Live a Life Unleashed. 

I am grateful for...YOU!Hop over to my Facebook page and tell me what you are grateful for.

Thank you for sharing!

[Friday Five-Minute Writing Prompt] My mentors taught me…

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13221972

Five-Minute Writing Prompt from Mary E. Knippel, author

My mentors taught me…

Friday five-minute writing prompt

Take out a fresh sheet of paper. Natalie Goldberg uses a “fast-writing” pen. I suggest using your favorite writing instrument and an unlined piece of colored paper for fun. I use a fountain pen with purple ink. Some folks opt to use their computer. If that is your preferred method to write, then just open a new word document on your computer and go for it. The point is to keep your fingers moving for five minutes and not stop. I want you to experience how much writing can be accomplished in a short period of time.

If you get stuck, just repeat the writing prompt – My mentors taught me… or any other phrase that is comfortable for you. Do not stop to edit, correct spelling, look up a better word, or rearrange a sentence. Do not question what comes up in the five minutes: this doesn’t make sense, where did that come from, or what a crazy notion. This is a timed writing exercise so be sure to set the timer on your watch, phone, microwave, computer, or kitchen stove. Whether you use an egg timer, a No. 2 pencil and spiral notebook, your iPad, or even your iPhone, the theory is the same. Keep your hand and/or fingers moving and have fun taking dictation from your unconscious self. Make a list, hum a tune, write a poem, or create a short, short story. This is your time to explore and experiment.

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

[Friday Five-Minute Writing Prompt] I am grateful for…

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image13221972

Five-Minute Writing Prompt from Mary E. Knippel, author

I am grateful for…

Friday five-minute writing prompt

Take out a fresh sheet of paper. Natalie Goldberg uses a “fast-writing” pen. I suggest using your favorite writing instrument and an unlined piece of colored paper for fun. I use a fountain pen with purple ink. Some folks opt to use their computer. If that is your preferred method to write, then just open a new word document on your computer and go for it. The point is to keep your fingers moving for five minutes and not stop. I want you to experience how much writing can be accomplished in a short period of time.

If you get stuck, just repeat the writing prompt – I am grateful for… or any other phrase that is comfortable for you. Do not stop to edit, correct spelling, look up a better word, or rearrange a sentence. Do not question what comes up in the five minutes: this doesn’t make sense, where did that come from, or what a crazy notion. This is a timed writing exercise so be sure to set the timer on your watch, phone, microwave, computer, or kitchen stove. Whether you use an egg timer, a No. 2 pencil and spiral notebook, your iPad, or even your iPhone, the theory is the same. Keep your hand and/or fingers moving and have fun taking dictation from your unconscious self. Make a list, hum a tune, write a poem, or create a short, short story. This is your time to explore and experiment.

photo credit:  Dreamstime.com

We salute you…

To all the Armed Forces, past and present, for all you have done and continue to do…with our love and gratitude!

George H. Prescott, WWII

George H. Prescott, WWII

[Coaxing Creativity Tuesday Tip] How do you express gratitude?

What does gratitude look like? 

 I think it has many forms:

  •  a box of candy
  • a bunch of daisies from your garden
  • an arrangement of flowers delivered in a vase
  • a green plant 
  • a batch of fresh baked cookies
  • a cup of tea 
  • a hande-made card
  • a note of appreciation
  • a wink
  • a nod
  • a tip of a hat
  • a smile of gratitude
  • a warm hug
  • attending an art show/reading/open house or gathering honorning a friend or colleague
  • spending time with someone hungry for company
  • being available to listen to a friend who just needs to know someone cares
  • showing a kindness for a fellow human being
  • showing compassion for someone in need of acceptance and understanding
Yes, it is wonderful when it is a tangible form we can consume or admire, but it is also a state of mind and an attitude.
 
When we were little, it meant that every gesture we received…whether it was a compliment on our pretty blue eyes, or a sugar cookie…we said thank you. If we wanted something, we said please. A very good lesson to learn. Common courtesy seems to be a forgotten gesture sometimes. Handicap and elderly seats on public transportation are routinely taken up by those who are clearly not handicapped nor elderly. Handicap parking spots are often used by those who just wanted to run in for a quick second and needed to have a close spot to get in and out fast. “How rude,” as a sit-com character on a television show my daughter used to watch would say and I agree.
 
When did this society lose our manners?
 
Where did they go?
 

How do you express gratitude?

 

 

[Friday five-minute writing prompt] What are you grateful for?

Friday five-minute writing prompt – What are you grateful for?

Take out a fresh sheet of paper. Natalie Goldberg uses a “fast-writing” pen. I suggest using your favorite writing instrument and an unlined piece of colored paper for fun. I use a fountain pen with purple ink. Some folks opt to use their computer. If that is your preferred method to write, then just open a new word document on your computer and go for it. The point is to keep your fingers moving for five minutes and not stop. I want you to experience how much writing can be accomplished in a short period of time.

If you get stuck, just repeat the writing prompt – What are you grateful for? or any other phrase that is comfortable for you. Do not stop to edit, correct spelling, look up a better word, or rearrange a sentence. Do not question what comes up in the five minutes: this doesn’t make sense, where did that come from, or what a crazy notion. This is a timed writing exercise so be sure to set the timer on your watch, phone, microwave, computer, or kitchen stove. Whether you use an egg timer, a No. 2 pencil and spiral notebook, your iPad, or even your iPhone, the theory is the same. Keep your hand and/or fingers moving and have fun taking dictation from your unconscious self. Make a list, write a poem, or create a short, short story. This is your time to explore and experiment. Enjoy!

The business of creating a grateful heart

Halloween treats, stern Pilgrims, red-suited Santas and dewy-winged angels fought for shelf space as I stood in line at the drug store recently. I shook my head to see these seasons blurred together. I realize this is the time of the year when the shoppers are out in full force looking for bargains. And the retailers are fighting fiercely to have us spend our dollars with them. I understand the economics, but I’m frustrated too.

I’d like to experience only one cherished holiday at a time. 

There is one season I will celebrate all year long  and that is the season of giving thanks. Being grateful for everyone and everything in my life…of course, my health, my family, being able to do work that I love and help the wonderful people in my life with my gifts. I’m privileged to have learned what is really important to me and I’m on a mission to encourage everyone I meet not to wait until they have a health crisis to take care of themselves. My health crisis certainly was my wake-up call. I don’t want you to have to wait until then to wake-up to the glorious life you are not living!

The title of this blog post has a double meaning. I refer to how we communicate and establish relationships in business. More importantly, I refer to how we communicate and maintain relationships in LIFE…with others and yourself.

 I agree with  Meister Eckhart who said,  “If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough.”

I’d like you to have a grateful heart for the blue in the sky, the breath in your body, the smile of a child, the tea in your cup, the love in your life, the faith in your soul, and the dreams of yet to be.