All you need is…

I had a discussion the other day about how Valentine’s Day is (or is not) a greeting-card-and-candy-company holiday. I mean, it’s named for the feast day of St. Valentine, right? So how did it go from a day honoring a couple of martyrs to a day about love, flowers, and chocolate?


St valentine

For some interesting details about Valentine’s day, check out this NPR article:

Before it was a saint’s day, this time of year was the beginning of the fertility festivals in many warmer climates. While more northern climes don’t turn toward fertility festivals until closer to Easter, Lupercalia was celebrated by the Romans and Galatin’s Day by the Normans around this time of year. Yes, a couple of guys named Valentine were martyred around this time, and at least one of those Valentines sainted was killed because he was marrying people without permission. But really, it’s all about more babies.


But so many people who love and celebrate the day aren’t all about babies. It’s easy to say that this is a greeting-card-and-chocolate-company holiday, but it can be about so much more than just that. I spent a few quality hours creating valentines for family members with my kids, as did my mother-in-law. My 4-year-old sat still at the table for at least an hour, carefully writing her name on 22 valentines for her dance friends and she was truly distressed when she came home with extras, worried that not everyone had gotten one. She really wanted to tell everyone at her dance class that she was happy to be their friend.

This was my daughter excited to show love to her friends and family. This was my 2 1/2-year-old making something to give to her family and remembering them when they weren’t actively in her view or immediate future. It’s hard for adults to look outside of our own heads to show affection for one another, how about we teach our children how to do it?

It’s easy to be cynical about ‘lesser’ holidays like Valentinethis one. I would like to argue that having a holiday that emphasizes caring for one another and that kids love is certainly worth valuing. Yes, people have used this holiday to sell things and other people have used this holiday to make us feel bad about ourselves, but there is so much good in this holiday. To simply write off the positive that can be done with this holiday is short-sighted in my opinion.

If we can pass on the positive of this holiday to our children, it is definitely worth the effort.


New Year, Old Me

Another time of year that encourages reflection (Or maybe it’s just me?). New Year’s Resolutions are abundant and often forgotten or ignored as February nears. By the time we’re getting our tax papers, they’re not even given a thought.

The impetus to start over again, to try something new that we haven’t tried before is

He looks just as confused as I feel! From

encouraged in our society as a way to make our lives exciting or interesting again. It’s certainly not a new concept – The Babylonians were making New Year’s resolutions 4,000 years ago. The idea of New Year, New Start, New You is perpetuated in every corner of popular culture and especially in advertising and media.


I feel a little guilted into making resolutions every year. I am generally happy with who I am until the advertisements start with, “Are you tired of saggy, baggy eyes?” or “Lose those twenty pounds once and for all!” that are encouraging us to make resolutions to ‘make ourselves better’ — or at least buy their products in an attempt to make ourselves better.

But it’s hard not to see a new year full of possibilities and make ourselves a few promises. I’ll try not to yell at my kids so much this year. I want to feed my family better this year — I’ll try to cook at least a couple times a week. I’ll sit down an write at least some more. These promises made to ourselves or our families or the universe are resolutions to take those possibilities and make everything better in our immediate surroundings.



Don’t forget to be awesome!

For me, I seem to make the same resolution every year, because if I can continue to accomplish this one thing, it will hopefully make everything better in my life and therefore in my family’s life, my work life, etc. That one, ongoing resolution is this: to connect to myself and connect myself to all of the pieces of my life. I feel like if I can accomplish this on an ongoing basis, my work life, my home life, my external life, and my internal life will all find balance and work better together. There are some more specifics that crop up every now and then (a recommitment to yoga tends to come up often), but the overall goal is the same every year, every resolution, every time I remember that I need it. Not to find a new me, but to support and sustain the old me as best as I can.


Thank You Day

Full disclosure: I have not been paid by anyone to promote anything, I just really like this idea and want to give full credit to the amazing writers who created it.

I have always loved the holiday of Thanksgiving. The meaning of Thanksgiving, appreciating what you have in life, has always been an important theme for me. This appreciation has kept me going when things were hard and brought me out of more than one depressive episode. I am SO lucky. I appreciate what I have. The family and friends getting together to share their lives and what is important to them is also amazing, not to mention the food.


DTiger's Thank You Day Book

There is also a book on the same subject! Links at the bottom.

But it’s always been a sort of ephemeral ‘Thanks.’ Traditionally, families join hands and pray, saying ‘Thanks’ to (Insert Favorite Diety) for their family, friends lives, shelter, and food, and maybe some of the younger members have been thankful for specific things and toys that they have been given. While I appreciate this appreciation, and I think it is something that we should do EVERY day, there seemed to be something missing.



Then I watched Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood with my two small daughters. At 2 and 4, both of my girls are obsessed with this new version of The Land of Make-Beleive from Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, and I am happy to have them watch that rather than something more violent or rude or even something that isn’t teaching them anything.


In season 2, the writers of this excellent show chose to do an entire episode about gratitude and created ‘Thank You Day’ in Daniel’s Neighborhood. On this day, everyone gets together for a celebration, much like our Thanksgiving celebrations here in the U.S., but there is an additional element that we haven’t incorporated traditionally. Everyone in Daniel’s neighborhood makes cards to give to each other that thank that person for something specific. The cards are given to the recipient, then the cards go onto a ‘Thank You Day’ tree where everyone can look at the beauty that they made together.



And Thank You Internet for providing another amazing image!

I love this adaptation. While we often say ‘Thank You’ to the ones we love every day, this practice would highlight for everyone that what they do for each other is important and to keep it up. Creating a decorated tree together would help cement that we are a community and we need to work together to make something amazing. As a person who is terrible at thank-you cards after receiving stuff, I like the idea of thank-you cards for being who you are a lot better.


So I think we’re going to have a new tradition, one that allows us to make amazing memories and to really appreciate everyone around us. If you want to join in with this new tradition, let me know! I’ll try to post a picture of our ‘Thank You Tree’ before the end of the month.

Link to the show on Amazon:
Link to the episode guide:
Link to the book on Amazon:



“It’s the subtleties that draw the eye…”

Everything is Brown. Unless it’s Grey. Or black. The world has turned monochrome around us. The Autumn has burned itself out and left behind husks, ashes, and leaf piles that are quickly turning into compost every time it rains.

LudPkLight11-11-08 NOV (2)

November. Yeah, it’s kinda like that.

We’re past the flash and burn of the fall. All of the plants have dropped those leaves like a lit match to conserve their energy for fighting off the driving cold that is coming in a few weeks. The leaves and the trees say goodbye to each other in a spectacular color party, then separate to leave the tree to nurture all life on earth including a new batch of leaves next spring. But all of the raucous celebration is over now and winter’s hush is starting to settle in.

This time of year it is easy to mourn the bright days of summer, the striking colors of fall, or even to eagerly anticipate the coming snow. It’s easy to look around at the lack of color and warmth and feel the heavy blanket of short days and bitter chill suck the energy right out of you.

I used to hate this time of year. Especially after the amazing show that we get in early fall, this drab, colorless world around us right now is even more tired and promising long cold nights ahead. I used to look around and see nothing but darkness and cold. Even rainy days wouldn’t help feed my spirit and creativity, they only compared to the warm rains of July or the snow that was stubbornly refusing to make an entrance.



..But November can also be kinda like this.

I’m not sure what changed, but at a certain point, I could see the color differences between the browns and greys and black. I could appreciate the contrast between the occasional stunningly blue sky and the dark stillness below. I am still amazed when I’m looking at a completely empty meadow that suddenly bursts to life with a startled flock of brown birds.


This season forces the observer to look closer to find beauty everywhere, hidden in plain sight. I hope to teach my daughters that there is always more to see, that the surface isn’t going to teach you anything. Sure, Spring, Summer, and even Winter have an amazing facade that doesn’t require much delving, but this part of the autumn rewards the careful explorer more with surprise nuggets of beauty.

So just look a little closer and I’m sure you’ll find something worth looking for.


We Wish you a Happy Halloween, We Wish…

There is a distinct lack of great, singable Halloween songs. That’s not to say that there haven’t been plenty of people who have tried to remedy that. Mostly rock artists. Mostly in the 60’s.


Happy Halloween YouTube

YouTube background to celebrate the season.

But for some reason, no one just bursts out with “Monster Mash,” in the middle of May, remembering all of the lyrics while the whole room follows along and sings loudly and off-key on the chorus. Yet this happens all the time with Christmas songs, or even “Here comes Peter Cottontail.” Heck, even Valentines day has songs associated with it, and half the population HATES that holiday.


It’s not for lack of interest. The only reason that we’re not inundated with Christmas toys, decorations, and music this time of year is that stores can still get an awful lot of money from folks who wait all year for October. My husband is one of those people. He started decorations for our Halloween party a month and a half ago. The party is not for another two weeks. He keeps a close eye on our mall this time of year to see when the Halloween Store opens.


Now, I enjoy Halloween a great deal, not the least of reasons being that it’s perfectly legitimate to eat a whole giant bag of chocolates in a week. Until I married Corey, I would usually find out about someone’s Halloween party a week or two early, then throw together some half-assed costume, usually out of things I have in my own closet supplemented by what I could find at Goodwill. I would also wear that costume to work if I happened to be working ON Halloween, but that might be the extent of my participation. Aside from aforementioned chocolate consumption, that is.




The closest thing to Halloween Music that you can find:


But now I have husband, kids, and party to prepare for. It’s a big deal in this house. But it’s sadly quiet around here with only a handful of songs that we can claim as Halloween Carols. “5 Little Pumpkins,” and “3 Little Witches” and some half-remembered parody of a kids song about ghosts (probably with a number associated with it, too) are not enough for us to burst into song while we’re getting ready. I guess as a writer and musician that means it falls to me to remedy the situation, but I think I’ve found the reasons why:



It is not easy to write a kids Halloween song. It can’t be too gory, it can’t be too scary, and if you veer too far the other way, it ends up being too cheesy for the adults to sing, therefore no one sings it.

Oh, well, maybe once the flurry of activity is over and before the next Holiday comes up, I’ll crank out a few carols for next year.


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