Give the hottest gift of the year: YOU!

At a time when most people are experiencing the “warm fuzzies” that are associated with Christmas and the holiday season, I’m troubled by the number of people that can’t “enjoy” Christmas because they don’t have money to buy gifts! Personally, I know way too many people who are unemployed, underemployed or overextended and have been for quite some time. Thankfully, some are easily putting things into perspective and taking the less traveled road called “I’m not going to let a dollar sign define me” while others are already withdrawing, getting grumpier by the minute, rejecting kind gestures from friends and family or downright refusing to participate in any holiday activities. Call it caring or nosey (either way, I don’t mind) but, for those who don’t seem to handling things well, I’ve made it my business to pose the questions “So how are you feeling about Christmas?” or “Tell me what you’re doing Christmas Day?” and, sadly, the majority of responses have started with some form of “I don’t know, I don’t have any money”!! Whaaat?!?! *in my my Minion, from Despicable Me, voice* Now, before I come across as mucho judgmental, please understand that I have been unemployed or downright broke during the holidays and, at times,I also fell victim to the fallacy that I HAD to have money to enjoy this time of the year so…been there, done that! Sadly, however, the year came when we lost two uncles, between mid-December and early January (less than thirty days apart) and that was all I needed to remind me that money and things will NEVER take the place of the moments we have with our loved ones.

Now, before y’all panic and think I’m being “anti-gift giving” or a true-life Scrooge, understand that I enjoy giving and receiving gifts but, in EVERY situation, it’s more important to me that we keep the giving in perspective and not let the commercialization of Christ’s birth take over! To give you a bit of background, know that my parents and grandparents taught me that we give gifts on Christmas to commemorate the gifts brought by the Wise Men on the night of Jesus’ birth. Again, although I lost sight of this at some points in my life, it’s this principle that has allowed me to get back to a place – spiritually, mentally and fiscally – where gift-giving is symbolic, simple and based on giving the recipient the most important gift of all: me and the talents God has placed in me! Returning to this mode of thinking has given me a freedom that I wish I could bottle and hand out on street corners or pipe into the air ducts at malls or, somehow, sprinkle it into our water system but, since I can’t, I’m verbally dishing it out and, well…blogging! So, without further ado, here are five non-material gift ideas I’m hoping you’ll find useful:

1. The Gift of Courage: Package up that courageous part of you and reach out to that person who’s struggling. We all know someone who’s hurting right now so, instead of saying “I don’t want to make them sad by bringing things up”, pick up the phone, touch their hand or whatever means you feel are appropriate and extend to them an invitation to be vulnerable or “not ok”. If you’re a person of prayer, pray with and for them, if not, go sit quietly with them while they cry, hang out on the couch and watch a movie, tell them jokes, look through photo albums, etc. The list of actions is limitless but, ultimately, giving someone the courage to face another difficult day is a priceless gift that will probably mean more than you’ll ever know!

2. The Gift of Service: Package up your talent and abilities and use them to serve others! Are you great with kids? If so, call the parents around you and offer free babysitting services! Can you cook? Stir up a pot of soup for a sick neighbor! Do you know how to swing a hammer? Then go down to Habitat for Humanity and help build a home! Just remember, every talent and ability you have is useful to someone, somewhere, so go find them and make a difference!

3. The Gift of Peace: Choose to give your family, friends and enemies the gift of peace! Is there someone you’ve been avoiding, fighting with or planning to “put in their place”? How about that co-worker that likes to push your buttons or that person in traffic that INSISTS on cutting in front of you? Anybody have an aunt that shows up every year and tries to make her “interesting” potato salad the highlight of the meal? At any rate, if we simply look around, we can see countless acts of disharmony, meanness and ugliness making this world more challenging by the day so why contribute? This year, no matter what, let’s choose to extend the olive branch, keep our mouths closed or be the bigger person in our homes and elsewhere…let’s spread peace, not discord!

4. The Gift of Time: Put a bow on yourself and give, give, give! Spend time reading to your children, listen to your grandmother tell the same story like it’s the first time you’ve heard it, stand at the curb and chat with your neighbor, don’t rush away from that stranger who wants to tell you ALL their business, have a picnic with your sweetheart and, all the while, listen and give them your undivided attention! In other words, give this gift solo, without assistance from that text message that you just HAVE to read right now, or that Facebook alert that can’t wait another five minutes or that phone call that you’ll die if you don’t take right away! The people who need you most need ALL of you so commit to giving them the priceless gift of yourself!

5. The Gift of Creativity: If you could, would you buy your mom the world? If you had the means, would you take your brother golfing at Pebble Beach? If money were no object, would you buy your woman an exquisite piece of jewelry? In most cases, questions like this are followed by an exuberant “yes” but we stop there. Since many of us don’t have the ability to do everything we’d like, let’s put our creative hats on and make magic happen! So you can’t give your mom the world but, if you have basic PowerPoint skills, you can make her a beautiful slide show of pictures from Spain, Australia or anywhere else she can only dream of, add some of her favorite music and give her that! Can’t take your brother to Pebble Beach? Why not take him miniature golfing and laugh your butts off instead?! Give your woman a candy necklace while telling her how priceless she is and, someday, if given the chance, you’ll replace each piece of candy with a kiss and a smile! Write a letter! Create a rap about your best friend! Break out the karaoke machine and serenade your kids! Dream it and do it!

Ultimately, take the opportunity to think outside the box the world has created around this blessed holiday and don’t let money, or a lack thereof, dictate how you commemorate December 25th. Remember, anybody can go to a store and buy the latest and greatest but only YOU can give of YOURSELF so get busy!

Lastly, for those of you who may be worried about people responding negatively to a non-material gift, refer to gift #3 then, with all your strength, smile and tell them to take their selfish behinds somewhere and SIT DOWN!😉

Until next time…

Natural Hair Tips: Eight Steps To Achieving Peace On The Journey To Healthy Hair

It’s been a loooong time since I posted but, in support of the many folks I know that recently embarked on their natural hair journey, I’m dusting off my keyboard and gettin down to business! Unfortunately, most of these folks seem to be stuck in common pitfalls or are frustrated by the very things I wish I would have known in the beginning. With that said, I’ll keep my intro fairly short and jump right into the eight “steps” I think are critical to achieving peace on the journey to healthy natural hair:

1. Be patient! Let me say that again, BE PATIENT! For many of us, we lived for years with hair that was relaxed, weaved or styled in a way that never even allowed us to know what our natural hair looked or felt like, let alone called for us to properly care for it. But, for many of us, just a few days into our transition or after our BC and we’re expecting our hair to do every trick under the sun. Slow down, take it one day at a time and know that hair is no different from us – it needs time to adjust to change.

2. Know yourself! And I mean really KNOW yourself and why you made the transition to natural hair. Being able to stay focused on your reason for being a natural beauty is key for those days when you feel challenged by your hair or one of those times when somebody makes some sideways comment about your hair. Hopefully those experiences will be few and far between but, if/when they do occur, it makes it a lot easier to keep it pushin if you can fall back on your original purpose.

3. Give yourself permission to make mistakes! You will make less than optimal choices for your hair, you’ll have a style that doesn’t come out right and you will get frustrated but just know that each day is an opportunity to learn something about yourself and your hair.

4. Keep it simple! Don’t over complicate things! Unfortunately, over the past 2-3 years, I’ve noticed more and more people thinking that it’s admirable or necessary to spend HOURS or even a whole day taking care of their natural hair. It also seems that people think the more products you use on one head the “healthier” the hair will be…NOT! Just keep it simple, simple, simple! If you want to know what “simple” looks like, check out this post by The Mane Source!

5. Don’t allow your hair inspirations to become your hair Gods! We ALL have vloggers, bloggers and the like that inspire us to do great things with our hair but, in the end, getting to know what grows from our own heads and how to nurture it is what’s important! Take the advice from others and use it to your advantage but understand that what worked for that person may not work for you and, sadly, every piece of advice out there isn’t always good. Research and common sense will always be great companions to the tips you receive from others.

6. Know your products! Never, ever, ever put something on your hair or scalp without knowing the ingredients and what they do! Again, just like every bit of advice isn’t good, every “natural” product isn’t made with the love and care that some would like you to think. Some products contain harmful chemicals, pore clogging ingredients and all sorts of things will NOT help you achieve healthy hair. If you ever have questions about an ingredient, you can always go to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Database for details.

7.  Don’t  feel pressured to break the bank! Healthy hair care does NOT require going into debt! There are definitely products on the market worth spending money on but, for the most part, with a little research, time and effort, a trip to the kitchen or the grocery store will provide just what your hair needs. However, if you would rather support the natural hair community by purchasing products from someone else, make sure you’re getting what you pay for and, don’t forget, do your research!😉

8.  Learn to love the person in the mirror! Once you truly accept and love yourself for who you are, bad hair days and frustrations will roll off your back instead of taking root or getting you off track.

Until next time…Peace and Blessings!

Pura Body Naturals: Goodness for hair and skin!

As you all may know, the Product Junkie (PJ) in me finds it hard to turn down a chance to try something new, especially when it’s truly an all natural product! So, a few weeks ago, I jumped at the opportunity to try out Pura Body Naturals, as one of the Beauty Ambassadors for Nappturalite Radio!

For the past 2-3 weeks, I’ve been using Pura Body Naturals MuruMuru Moisture Milk, Sapote Hair Lotion, Cupuacu Hair Butter and the Amazon Hair & Body Butter and, let me tell you, these products definitely made my hair and skin smile! To give you a clearer picture, I’ll break each product down by how I used them, their pros & cons and, finally, an overall “grade” for the entire group!

MuruMuru Moisture Milk: According to the information that came with the products, the Moisture Milk can be as a daily moisturizer or “just when your strands need a little more hydration”.  How I used it: Prior to the first use, I made sure my hair was pre-pooed, freshly washed (so there was no build-up or interaction with other products), detangled and spritzed with hair tea. I then applied a generous amount of the product to each section of my hair and combed it through with my fingers then sealed it with the Cupuacu Hair Butter (more on that in a sec).  The Pros : This product is very rich/thick and, as a result, doesn’t take a lot to cover my thick hair. It has a very pleasant (almost nutty) fragrance, isn’t greasy and, despite me not expecting it, gave my coils/curls really nice definition. The Cons: It took my hair a little while to fully absorb the product. I thought I was just being heavy-handed in the beginning but, even though I’ve been using the Moisture Milk for a while now, I still find that it takes me a while of “massaging” it into my hair before it’s no longer white (lazy girl confession: most days I just leave it and let it disappear as I’m getting dressed).

Sapote Hair Lotion: Pura Body Naturals says this product is “formulated to be a leave-in conditioner that can be used daily” and that some users also like it as a moisturizer. In addition, it can be used as a skin lotion!  How I used it: Again, on freshly cleansed, detangled and spritzed with hair tea kinks/coils, I applied this product in sections and combed it through with my fingers (some days with a wide-tooth comb) and, on most occasions, sealed it with the Hair Butter but, a few times, I’ve tried it as a stand-alone moisturizer/sealant. I also used it as a lotion for my hands and feet, before bed. The Pros: Again, another deliciously thick/rich product that doesn’t take a large amount to get the job done! This formula has a scent that, to me, is a lot like oatmeal – nutty but not sweet or overpowering – , isn’t greasy or oily and leaves my hair and skin super soft and touchable! The Cons: Like the Moisture Milk, it takes longer than I’m used to for this product to absorb into my hair.

Cupuacu Hair Butter: A 100% natural blend of butters that can be used on wet or dry hair to “seal in moisture and provide maximum softness”. Pura Body Naturals also says that, when used on wet hair, this product helps promote moisture retention. How I used it: As I mentioned earlier, I used this product as a sealant, from root to tip, after using either the MuruMuru Moisture Milk or the Sapote Hair Lotion. The Pros: This is a rich, creamy butter that easily melts in my hands and glides onto my hair and almost instantly disappears. It gives my hair a soft, natural sheen and truly does seal in moisture without leaving my hair greasy or oily! The Cons: The nutty scent can be overwhelming when first applied but dies down pretty quickly.

Amazon Hair and Body Butter: Another 100% natural blend of oils/butters that can be used on wet or dry hair to promote moisture retention and softness or on the skin to moisturize and soften. How I used it: On my hair, I also used this, as a sealant, after the MuruMuru Moisture Milk or Sapote Hair Lotion. On my skin, I mainly used it on my hands but did try it as an all over body butter. The Pros: A super rich butter that’s creamier than most I’ve seen. It melts into hair and skin very easily and a little goes a long way. Great for moisturizing my skin and keeping away the dryness that I normally get during the day (I work in health care so I was my hands more time that I can count)!  The Cons: For some reason, my hair just didn’t take this like it did the Cupuacu Butter. It sealed well but didn’t give me the sheen or softness I got from the other butter.

Overall Grade: Overall, I give the products I’m using from Pura Body Naturals an A!

What sets this products apart from others? The purity and quality of ingredients are definitely worth celebrating! These butters, oils, etc. go way beyond the typical shea butter mixture (not that there’s anything wrong with those…they just don’t do much for my hair)! In addition, now ya’ll don’t faint on this part, but I’ve actually rocked SECOND DAY HAIR since I’ve been using these products! Now, for some naturals, that aint nowhere close to being a big deal but, for this “I can’t live without co-washing and using a wash-n-go as my #1 style” girl, actually NOT doing a wash-n-go and, instead, just spritzing my hair with hair tea and applying a little bit more Sapote Hair Lotion or MuruMuru Moisture Milk and hitting the streets is HUGE!! I’m not sure what it is about these products but my hair looks even thicker, healthier, shinier and fierce the second day and doesn’t even require a second application of butter to stay super moisturized and cotton candy soft!

What’s next for me and these products? I’m going to use every drop of the samples and see how my hair responds as the cooler weather and higher humidity fully take over southern Cali! I also plan to place an order (something I’ve done with only 1 other product I’ve won or being asked to review over the last few months) and keep this nappy party going! *thumbs up*

Poetisa’s Palette: Heaven in a package!

For my FIRST product review, I’m very excited to tell you all about Poetisa’s Palette Skin Care! I was fortunate enough to try these products as a Beauty Ambassador for Nappturalite Radio and, let me tell ya’ll, I’m definitely glad that I was among the chosen!

Handmade, yes handmade, by Chicago’s own Paula Wills, products from Poetisa’s Palette are created with quality in mind and, according to Paula, choosing quality over quantity is why each product contains the highest quality herbs, butters and oils. Well, as someone who constantly fights her inner PJ (Product Junkie), I have a linen closet over flowing with products that also claimed to contain “high quality” ingredients but, unfortunately, were epic failures! However, in this case, these products made a believer out of me with ingredients like goat’s milk , Mowrah Butter, raw honey, Cranberry Seed Oil and many others!

Ok, so let’s get to the real business: a breakdown of each product.  For this “assignment”, I received four products –  Of the Earth Hair Moisturizer,  Sunday Morning Butter, Mocha Latte Scrub and a Massage Candle – all of which can be found in Poetisa’s Palette online shop. Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try the Massage Candle but I’ve used the other products for almost two weeks and it seems like they keep getting better as time goes on.

Described as product “for those of you with super dry hair…”, Of the Earth Hair Moisturizer is a rich, buttery moisturizer with a delicious smell!  Although this product would probably be outstanding as a moisturizer/sealer for protective styles, I used it on my wash-n-go, in place of my usual styling gel, and experienced soft, moist coils all day!

Used to exfoliate the skin, the Mocha Latte Foaming Scrub almost had me running to the shower every morning! This scrub contains ground coffee (yes, actual coffee grounds), coffee butter, raw honey, goat’s milk and jojoba oil – a combination that left my skin silky smooth and scented just enough to make me want to go back for more!

After my morning showers, I lavished my body with the Sunday Morning Butter, a  rich, creamy concoction that definitely stands up to the honor of being called a butter!  Although very thick and a heavier than products I’m usually drawn to, my skin absorbed the rich oils in this butter and I found that, even after frequent hand washing (I work in health care), I didn’t end up with the ashy, dry, thirsty skin!

Lastly, as I said before, I haven’t had the opportunity to use the Massage Candle but, in the not too distant future, I’m planning to use it for my own version of a paraffin wax on my hands and feet and I will definitely let ya’ll know how it turns out!

5 stars, 2 thumbs up, a ^5 and more for Paula Wills and Poetisa’s Palette Skin Care!

If loving Henna is wrong, my kinks/coils/curls don’t wanna be right!

Ok, it’s official, I’m a HENNA HEAD! As of yesterday, I took the plunge and completed my 1st Henna treatment and decided to share my experience with you guys! So that I don’t forget anything, I’m going to share my experience in the form of questions that I think others may have, here goes:

What is Henna?

Lawsonia Inermis, also known as Henna, is a flowering plant  that’s native to tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, southern Asia, and northern Australasia. However, when we think of Henna, most of us are referring to the dye commonly used in the ritual art of skin painting, known as Mehndi, or for temporary tattooing.  Well, quiet as its kept, Henna is also used by many people as an organic hair dye or an all natural way to add protein and mega strength to the hair.

Why did I decide to use Henna?

For the past year, I’ve been hearing so many naturals talk about the strengthening property of Henna and how they love the results they get from an application but, since I also heard others say they ended up with dry, “straw-like” hair after using it, I would raise on eyebrow then let the thought pass. However, given my goal of having a head of natural hair so big that I block people’s view at the movies or in church, I began to take another look at ways to retain the length/fullness of my kinks and, after weeks of reading blogs, scientific information, reviews, etc., I decided that my hair could actually benefit from an occasional protein treatment, however, since I don’t like the ingredients in most of those on the commercial market, Henna was my final choice.

What Henna did I use and how did I prepare it?

If you research using Henna on the hair, you’ll find so much information that I promise your head will spin! But, luckily, I ran across  Henna for Hair and Curly Nikki – two sites that have just about all the information you need, in the form of one-stop-shopping! After reading through both sites about the many versions/brands of Henna that are out there, I decided to buy the Jamila brand, however, given my latest commitment to being more fiscally responsible and not spending money on things that I can find cheaper elsewhere, I decided to trek to a local Indian market and see what they had on hand and I ran across the Reshma brand.

I remembered seeing many people mention using this same brand and I was so excited that it was only $3.99 for a 2oog box, while the Jamila brand was $7.98 for a 100g box online, plus shipping and handling! Anywho, since I wasn’t sure how I would like the whole process, I fought the PJ in me and only allowed myself to buy one box and it turned out to be more than enough for me to cover my shoulder length (when stretched) napps PLUS my sisters hair (hers is pretty much to the scalp – she has a BOMB caesar). Ok, so here’s my recipe:

1 box (200g) Reshma Henna

1.5 – 2 cups distilled water, at boiling temp

Honey (didn’t measure)

So, I dumped the entire package of Henna into a large, plastic bowl then begin to add water – mix – add water – mix until I had a smooth, almost Play Dough consistency. I then put the top on the container, hopped in the shower, did a quick co-wash with V05 and finger combed. Once outta the shower, I added enough honey to the Henna and mixed it until it was a creamy, pudding or frosting consistency then begin to apply it to my hair, in sections. You’ll find that the Henna is very mud-like and can be heavy so, instead of applying it by pulling it through the hair, its best to “smoosh” it through until all the hair is covered then, when finished, pile the hair onto the top of your head and cover with at least 1 plastic cap. After that, I started the clock and watched football, tweeted and trolled around FB!

Four hours later, I begin the tedious process of rinsing the Henna out and here’s where the honey really helps! After four hours, the “mud” was definitely set but it wasn’t brick hard and I didn’t have to put unnecessary stress on my hair to get the Henna out. What I did was rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse, rinse and rinse (get the picture?) then I begin to co-wash, again with V05, paying careful attention to my scalp, and do another long rinse in between. I repeated the co-wash – long rinse cycle probably 5 times before the water ran completely clear then I applied my favorite homemade DC (a mix of avocado, banana and honey), let that sit under a plastic cap for about 30 minutes, rinsed that out and applied some oil to seal and, voila, my first Henna treatment was done!

What are my results?

Prior to the treatment, I wasn’t really plagued with dry or hard hair but I was so amazed to find that my hair came out even SOFTER and more thick and lush than before!! I can definitely tell that my hair was in need of a deep, protein treatment because it’s responded by sitting up, reaching towards the heavens (even more than before) and issuing a great big, thank you! Now, the surprise that I wasn’t expecting?!! THE COLOR!! I now have  coppery yet still dark chocolate coils that I’ve lovingly renamed “Cajun Chocolate”!! Although I’m very, very surprised that I got a color change after only FOUR hours, I’m so pleased because I think that was the little change/shakeup/umph I could use in my life and, guess what?! I was able to do it through ALL NATURAL, ORGANIC means that didn’t put any harmful chemicals into my body/scalp…YEAH!

What did I learn?

Well, so far, I’ve learned that Henna is a great conditioning treatment for my hair but I’ve also learned that it’s not true that dark haired folks can’t get a color change when using this! So many people, via blogs, etc., said that Henna WILL NOT lighten or color black, dark brown or other darker shades of hair, even if left on over night but I’m glad I went with my heart and decided to try it for a shorter time, at least in the beginning. Can ya’ll imagine what would have happened if I would have slept with the Henna? I probably would have ended up looking like Carrot Top or something but, hey, I might be fierce with that too!! LOL

In the end, the main thing that stood out from this whole process wasn’t a new concept for me, it is simply the truth that each of our heads is different and, therefore, although we can use others experiences as guidelines, we MUST learn our own hair and get to know how it reacts, what it needs and what it doesn’t. Everything isn’t for everybody but I really think that Henna can be a great tool for those who would like to add more strength to their hair, with an all natural product!

What’s Next?

At this point, I KNOW that I will continue to Henna but, given the amount of color I achieved, instead of doing so bi-weekly (like I originally planned) I’m going to embark upon the Henna journey monthly and I will probably cut the time down to 3 hours but, hey, who knows…I just might be in the mood to see where the color will go if I do another 4 hour treatment! Will it brighten, get more red?

Until later…peace and blessings and, oh, stay tuned for pics!

The Gratitude Project: 30 days to a better me! (The End)

Well, here it is…day 30! 30 days, 30 posts and 300 hundred (well, tonight will make 300) things that have made me feel a sense of gratitude and thanksgiving and I am forever changed because of it! When I started, I had feelings of “This is going to be great!” all the way to “What the heck did I get myself into?” and everything in between but, all in all, I will admit that I have found daily posting to be almost a normal part of my day! After all, I guess it’s true that 30 days of doing anything makes a habit! LOL

So, now what?! Since I’ve used this project to help myself grow in so many ways (consistency, finishing what I start, keeping my word to myself and God, increasing personal accountability, taking count of just a few things I have to be thankful for, etc.), I’m not sure how I will feel when I wake up tomorrow and realize that I won’t be adding anything else to this topic. I’m considering take a week off from the blog, although I will continue to record, in some way, what I’m grateful for each day, then coming back with another 30 day project or have a completely lost my mind?! LOL  Anyway, time will tell so, for now, let me close out The Gratitude Project with the final quote and list!

Today, I am grateful/thankful for:

1. Encouragement

2. The words “thank you”

3. Love

4. Hugs

5. Butterflies

6. Safety

7. Clarity

8. Spiritual discernment


10. Good books

And here’s the quote: “If the only prayer you say in your life is thank you, that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

So, Lord I thank you for giving me the commitment, strength and energy to finish this topic and I thank you for every person who’s read even one word! Amen!

The Gratitude Project: 30 days to a better me! (Day 29)

Wow, I can’t believe there’s only one more day left with this project! Despite having nights were I felt too tired to post or, when I wasn’t online, I came about a millimeter away from finding a reason NOT to catch back up, I’m so glad that I stuck to it, kept my word to myself and continued to take note of the things that make me feel grateful and/or thankful! Ok, I guess I should save the sappy stuff for tomorrow (the last day) so, until then, let me move forward with tonight’s quote and list. For the quote, I came across the following:

“He is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.” — Epictetus

Now, aint that the truth?! If I chose to think of all the things I DON’T have, I could probably write for hours but what would be the point? In the end, I would end up having lost precious time that I could have used being grateful, spending time with God, spending time with my family/friends of doing something else to improve myself. So, with that said, I’m going to follow suit with Epicetus’ suggestion and rejoice for the things I have but, for a twist, I’m going to compare/contrast what I don’t have with what I do have…just to remind myself that God provides EVERYTHING, in his own way!!

Tonight, I am grateful/thankful for:

1. Our home – It may not be the custom home I’ve dreamt of designing, but it’s safe, comfortable, peaceful and more than a roof over our heads!

2. Food –  Even though I haven’t always had what I WANTED to eat, I’ve never gone hungry or gone without, like those who have truly experienced starvation.

3. My parents –  They may have not been Cliff and Claire, but they loved us, provided for us and taught us things about God and life that have carried us through the hard times.

4. Health – Plenty of times I’ve complained about my asthma/chronic lung issues, aches/pains, etc., but I’m grateful that my body is strong, heals fast and I know that there a millions of people with illnesses that would gladly trade bodies with me so…no complaints!

5. My career – Although there are times I feel absolutely drained from work, I’m more than grateful for having a job and, on top of that, one that allows me to be a blessing to others EVERY DAY!

6. My Sweeter 1/2 –  For a long time I found myself wanting to change him into the cookie cutter, “perfect” man but I am so thankful that God opened my eyes and allowed me to accept and love him for himself. As a result, I am head-over-heels, nose wide open, crazy about him and I totally appreciate the nerdy, quirkiness of our relationship!

7. My family –  Crazy/strange/dysfunctional or whatever I’ve been known to say about us, I’m so thankful that I am not alone in this world and I have these bunch of people to count on!

8. My car –  It’s not that 1969 or 2011 Camaro, but it’s still fly, reliable, safe and gets me from point a to b with consistency!

9. Peace – Unlike the mental and spiritual place that I’ve referred to in the past as “my peaceful place”, the peace that I know now is true, serene and a place without worry! I’m so grateful that I’ve learned not to worry and rest in God, knowing that he always has my best interest at heart!

10. Letting go of the past – Like never before, I find myself being able to let go of things that weren’t the best feeling (frustration, anger, bad moods, etc.) and move forward! Not too long ago, my mood could be all over the place in a matter of minutes but, now, I’m less likely to hold a grudge, stay mad, etc., and I can not tell you how freeing this change has been for me…it’s AWESOME!

Ok, I’ve talked waaay more than I planned tonight but, hey, I’m thinking it was simply meant to be! =) That’s it for tonight and, until later, I send you all hugs, kisses and prayers for you to experience the joy that only God can provide!