Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Gratitude – What is it good for?

Over the past year, I have given a lot of thought to Gratitude. That word seemed to be popping up all around me, and I have learned to pay attention when an idea or thought frequently emerges. I was hearing it in my business training seminars & coaching books. I heard it from Pastor when he challenged us to write down 100 things we were grateful for and to review the list daily. I heard it from a motivational CD series I listen to frequently. Repeated in what I was hearing was some version of, “Be grateful for what you have, if… you want more, you want peace, you want happiness, you want love….” I made a conscious decision, like so many of my mentors had, to embrace gratitude and thought maybe if I shared it with you, my results might encourage someone else.

I have so many examples that it’s hard to know where to begin, so I’ll just share one of the most significant. 1 year ago just before Thanksgiving, my husband lost his job (I know that so many people can relate to that.) 1 Stop Bead Shop had never been positioned to support my family, but now I was in the position as primary provider. There were so many reasons that we could have become depressed or negative about the situation – after all, we had to cut back on spending, make lifestyle changes, etc. It was a bit intimidating. But, I made a conscious decision to be grateful for what we had rather than focus on what we might have to give up. I am grateful that we have a home, a healthy family, the support of family & friends, a good business with great customers and employees that, as it turns out, can support us, and through it all the promise that, “All things work together for good for those that love the Lord & are calling according to His purpose.” We had no way of knowing that 1 year later, we would actually be grateful that he lost his job. Our entire family is closer and happier than ever. And, my husband, who had been living under a cloud of stress for years, is free of that cloud and has found a new career path that he’s really excited and motivated about for the first time in his life.

So why do you care? You may not. The nice thing about a blog, is that the writer gets to be a bit self-indulgent. But, I’m hopeful, not necessarily that you’ll celebrate with me, but that from my story you might take inspiration.

The more I “DO” gratitude the more things I find I have to be grateful for. And yes, I said, “DO” gratitude. I have found that being grateful takes a conscious decision and conscious thought – at least at first. I had to train my brain to think about what I was grateful for first thing in the morning when I got out of bed. I really like my bed, and would often rather chose to stay in it rather than get out. That has, over the years, set the stage for me to allow myself to get up grumpy, “I hate mornings,” rather than get up grateful. So, it was a conscious decision to say “Thank” when my first foot hits the floor, and “You” when my other foot hits the floor. “Thank you for this day, and the opportunities the day holds.” After that I have set aside time to say my thanksgivings for the day and really think about the things that I am thankful for. Some mornings that alone can take 20 minutes. There are big things to be thankful for like the sunshine to warm us and make us cheery, or the rain that waters my plants so I don’t have to pay for the water to water them – yep, I can be thankful for the weather either way. There are personal things to be thankful for, like that I was born with all my parts working correctly, that I can see, hear, smell, taste, touch, sense, or that I still have all my teeth. There are family things to be grateful for, like that my kids came home safely from school today. There are business things to be thankful for, like a staff that I truly enjoy spending time with every day and loyal customers who make it possible for me and my staff to do something for a living that we truly enjoy. There are mundane things to be grateful for, like air conditioning and hot running water – 2 amenities that make be grateful I was born in this century and not earlier. There are life things to be grateful for like being born in this country where I’m free and relatively safe, and where we’ve all got it pretty good compared to some places in the world. You can see where the gratitude process each day could take a very long time as I really start to list all the things I have to be grateful for each day.

Did you know you can even be grateful for your big toe because it allows you to balance and makes it possible for you to walk?

So what happens when you spend all this time being grateful? Many of the things that seemed worth complaining about seem insignificant or get forgotten altogether. Many of the things you thought were worth complaining about can actually be seen from a positive point of view, which in the long run makes you a more positive person. When you’re more positive, more people like you and want to be around you. And, when you start looking through eyes of gratitude you start seeing all the people around you differently too. Something happens – it’s almost like gratitude turns into love – which of course it does.

Okay, so enough guishiness (not a word – I made it up). I wouldn’t have bothered to share all this with you if I didn’t have a purpose. My hope for you, is that you’ll try it too. Imagine a world where more of us were grateful for ALL the blessings we have. What would that world look like? I imagine that it would be a world where everyone is nicer to each other, because we are all so grateful for our blessings that we can focus our positive energies on being kind and helpful to one another. I like that world. I hope you’ll come live in it with me. There’s an infinite amount of room in the world of gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Small Business Saturday

It seems the media machine is always creating some marketing craze or other. 1st they picked up a derogatory term used by employees of major retailers to describe their loathing of having to work the day after Thanksgiving, what with the crazy hours, jostling bodies, and hasseled & harried often grumpy customers, and turned it into a term that we shoppers readily embrace as "ok." During the boom, they started referring to the day after Black Friday as Saturday, where websites lured everyone to spend boocoupe bucks on sites we'd never even heard of before. Apparently there was some backlash, because this year, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is being referred to as Small Business Saturday.

Now here's a media driven incentive I can really get on board with. Well, obviously - I have a small business. More than that though, I really believe it benefits everybody in our community if we keep as many of our dollars as we can in the local economy. While our government is throwing out money faster than they can print it to anyone - be it business, citizen, non-citizen, or country - that puts their hand out, we do still have some control and say about where we choose to spend the little we have left after taxes. And I, for one, think it's high time we look out for each other, and our friends and neighbors who own the local businesses, who are supporting their families, putting their kids through school, volunteering at the PTO and Band Boosters, and paying wages that support other local families. For years the media has taught us to think globally, and meanwhile our local stores have come and gone and in many small towns have all but disappeared and been replaced with Antique Malls, which really puts a cap on it, doesn't it?

Being raised by a father who was in retail, I was always taught that you did business with your friends & family first. He had a friend that owned a hair dressing studio 45 minutes away. Guess how far we traveled to get our hair done? Good thing gas was only $.60 a gallon. Over the years I continued to practice the friends and family thing whenever it was possible, but I never really thought about local community owned businesses until I was shopping for a Halloween costume for my daughter 3 years ago.

We had been in and out of several of those pop-up (non-locally owned) Halloween stores looking for something (can't recall exactly - had to be something that suited the little girl) and comparing prices. We needed to go to Costume Holiday House (LOCALLY OWNED) anyway because they had rentals for the costume party we were attending. I was really pleased to see that they had just as good of a selection and competitive prices. As I chatted w/ the owner that evening, I had an eye opening experience. She shared w/ me that those pop-up stores were costing her business in excess of $200K a year and were really challenging her ability to support her family and stay in business. Costume Holiday House is one of, if not the only, costume store that rents to local school theaters and churches for their VBS. If they go out of business, where do we get those costumes and stage make-up? That's when I realized that "Buy from friends & family" should be expanded to "Buy from locally owned businesses first!"

This year, 1 Stop Bead Shop is pleased to participate in Small Business Saturday. Visit our website, our Facebook page, and read our newsletter next week for updates and specials.

Then after you visit our store, stop by some of our other local favorites for great gift ideas:
Generation Green
Cup Cakery in Dublin
Ha'Penny Bridge in Old Dublin - your local source for all things Irish
Then grab a bite to eat at Biddies Coach House in Dublin for some of the best home cooked food in Dublin - owned & operated by Diane Hammons - my son's former grade school principal (the friends/family/community connections never end!)

Got any great local Columbus area businesses that you love? Please share them with everyone in the comments box below! The more we share, the more we all benefit! Happy Shopping!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Quilting Bee

In the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries every community had it's quilt bees and most followed a similar pattern. Women spent long winter months piecing tops and over the summer months called on their friends and neighbors to help quilt them. No one wanted to miss a quilting as this was a major social occasion and chance for gossip, if you weren't there yours could be among the names bandied about over the frame! (or frames, often more than one quilt was worked on at a bee in the summer, when the quilting was outdoors). Children were called upon to keep the needles threaded and less skilled quilters and young ladies were often relegated to KP duty, it paid to polish your quilting stitch! Perhaps the most festive Quilting Bees were held to quilt a brides quilt. Traditionally this quilt would be the thirteenth quilt a young girl had made, and displayed her finest work. The time between engagement and wedding was a flurry of quiltings as none of the thirteen quilts were quilted before the engagement. The most expensive part of a quilt was the backing and batting and this investment was not made until it was certain the quilts would be needed to set up housekeeping. The quilt bee was a party as much if not more than a working occasion and a lady made every effort to put on her best for her friends and neighbors. At the end of the day the men joined the ladies for a festive supper and perhaps a barn dance. These events were particularly cherished by the women of the great plains and western states as it was a rare opportunity for them to see other women, they spent most of their days with their own families and chores and might only see others every few months and not at all in the winter. It might be a four or five hour or more journey to the nearest neighbor, a truly perilous trip in winter. Some women were very fussy as to who was invited to a quilting, wanting only the most skilled to work on her quilts. Occasionally the stitches of a less skilled quilter were removed after the bee and redone by the quilts owner. Pride was taken in ones stitches! Quilt Bees still take place today though they are more likely to take the form of a church or charity organization which quilts to raise funds for well deserving causes than as the social occasion which also resulted in the completion of a necessary but tedious task. (Article drawn from “Quilt History” by Christina {no last name found})

Much was lost when the tradition of the quilting bee died out in the early 20th century. Ready-made textiles became the rage and quilts came to be viewed as a “country item," not a quality textile. Not only did we loose a uniquely American wedding tradition that had been passed from generation to generation, and the tradition of teaching the next generation how to sew, we lost one of the great social outlets for women. Beginning in the early decades of the 20th century, women started to go to work in factories, as domestics, or as secretaries outside the home, and time to get together became more limited. Over the decades, we women lost the close social contact that the quilting bee had provided. Today there are very few outlets for groups of women to get together, just be social and form casual friendships born of kindred activities.

The first month I opened 1 Stop Bead Shop, I instituted Club Bead – 1 Stop Bead Shop’s Girls’ Night Out. I didn’t have quilting bees in mind at the time, but just saw it as a great chance for fellow beaders to get together once a month, do their craft, chat & share ideas. Our first Club Bead was very small – just me and 3 other women – Dena, Lori & Jennifer – but it grew each month as beaders started to look forward to their beading time together and invited their friends. Many friendships have grown and blossomed into friendships that go far beyond the walls of 1 Stop Bead Shop.

If you enjoy beading and like the idea of hanging out with others who are as passionate about it as you are, why don’t you consider joining us for our version of the Quilting Bee – 1 Stop Bead Shop’s Club Bead - this Friday, 11-11-11 from 7:00-10:00? It’s a great way to make new friends and get great feedback & ideas. Just $15 pays for an entire year through Dec 2012! See you Friday!