Archive for the 'Kwanzaa' Category

New Year’s Heart Message

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New Year’s is a time of endings and beginnings. One stress we sometimes experience at New Year’s is looking back on our resolutions and goals from a year ago and seeing how we have fallen short. Nothing robs us of Fyera! or ties our growth and fulfillment to a boomerang bungee cord faster than self judgment. The heart rarely judges and measures our progress. Usually, it celebrates our potential, appreciates our strides, and gives us direct and honest feedback about our gaps- all with love for exactly who we are right here right now. A fully blossomed rose is no more beautiful than a tight bud about to bloom- for each step of our progress and experience, the heart is always able to make room.

We do our end of fiscal year financial accounting, but what about our end of year energy accounting? It is our energy that is the most important resource we have. If we have energy, after all, we will be able to generate all the other resources we need including problem solving skills, hope, innovation, money, and above all, the stamina to ride through the tough times and remain committed to our visions and dreams long enough to see them realized. It is the power of the heart, as accessed through the tools of the beginner HeartMath webinar and the energy accounting tool in the intermediate webinar that replenished those things in me and gave me the power to be writing this for all of you! My heart’s message? “Don’t give up! Keep going! It’s getting easier! It’s getting there! Don’t quit! You’re almost there!”

The nice thing about having the heart on board is that as long as you keep coming back to listen to its signal, it will broadcast its messages to you in everyone you meet and every situation you greet.

-Sheva Carr,

Holiday Tips: Nurturing The Spirit Year Round

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Holiday Tips: Nurturing The Spirit Year Round

Learning from the Holidays

Holidays and joy are two elements of our lives that are naturally intertwined. Traditional celebrations awaken within us an ardent desire to reconnect with the people we care about and to share our abundance. During the holiday season, we feel more driven to actively practice compassion, tolerance, selflessness, and gratitude. When we feel stressed, we find peace in the company of loved ones. And, filled with warm thoughts, we endeavor to ensure that others can share in our celebrations. Yet while happiness and holidays go hand in hand, the serenity and optimism that blossom within as we act on our festive feelings need not be relegated to a few days or weeks each year. We can carry the holiday spirit within us all year long if we make an effort to embrace a celebratory frame of mind no matter what the date.

Holding the holidays in your heart can be wonderfully transformative. Changing your life can be as simple as thinking about the uplifting activities you engage in and the positive attitudes you adopt during the holiday season and then integrating them into your daily life. If you learn to always be as open to wonder as you are around the holidays, the world will seem like a more magical place, whether it is December, March, or August. While holidays represent a great opportunity to reconnect with family and friends, there is little preventing you from reaching out to the people you care about throughout the year. The patience, compassion, goodwill, and tolerance you feel while celebrating can easily become a part of your everyday experience. Likewise, you will soon discover that the generous charitable gifts you give once a year mean just as much during other months and are often needed even more.

To remind yourself of your decision to carry the holiday spirit in your heart, consider displaying some small part of your holiday décor to signify your commitment. Remember that giving, whether your gifts are tangible or of the soul, always feels good, whatever the occasion. However you prefer to celebrate the holidays, practicing the ideals of the season every day means experiencing the beauty of the holiday season all year long.

Surviving the Holidays

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Surviving the Holidays
by Jacqueline Wales

We are all gearing up for the Holiday Season, and since many of us love it and maybe just as many hate it, I’d like to offer you my five top tips for getting through the chaos without losing your mind.

  1. You are not the GIFTS you give. YOU ARE THE GIFT. Remember to treat it with respect.
  2. You don’t have to accept every party invitation that comes your way. People will love you anyway.
  3. Gift giving is not a competitive sport. If you receive something, you don’t have to give one back, especially if it means going into debt to do so.
  4. When the hurly-burly sets in……Remember to Breathe
  5. If you so desire….. be a BAH HUMBUG! The party will continue anyway.


Celebrating What Truly Counts

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Celebrating What Truly Counts

The Perfect Holiday

As the holidays arrive it is easy to become distracted by our desire for perfection. It might be the need to craft a festive environment, always be in an upbeat mood, or simply the desire to find just the right gifts for everyone in our lives. Even though these things can be positive, if we start putting too much pressure on ourselves during this season, we are much more apt to forget what truly is important—celebrating our lives with the people we care about.

For many of us this time of year can stir up a host of mixed emotions. For example, we might feel a tinge of nostalgia for past holiday celebrations, when times were simpler, or a sense of being let down due to the unmet expectations we have for ourselves and others. No matter what our feelings are, they are likely to be caused by an unrealistic sense of what the holidays should mean for us. Rather than thinking of this season as a time for finding the perfect gift or hosting the best party, we can get so much more out of the holidays if we create a personal inventory of the things that matter most to us. With each item we add to our list, we can then set the intention to use this season as a time to consciously rejoice in and express our appreciation for the blessings we have. The more we are able to let go of our traditional expectations for the holidays, the more open we will become to the bounteous spirit that lies within us.

Our true enjoyment of this season will only come from looking within and reflecting on the deeper spiritual significance the holidays have for us. Infusing our holiday activities with a sense of gratitude will bring a greater level of enjoyment to our life and also help us extend loving and kind energy to all we encounter. It is this spirit that will allow us to truly celebrate by sharing our greatest gifts—infinite love, peace, understanding, and joy—with those around us.

Christmas Season Movie

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Christmas Season Movie

Christmas Season is here.
Childhood memories, wishes, hopes and dreams.
Believing in the miracle and the joy of Christmas.
Giving way to our desires and wishes that our dreams will be.

Mary Robinson Reynolds wrote this movie because for many people, including herself, our first awareness of a connection with something greater than ourselves – the magic, and the miraculous – came through the legend of Saint Nicholas. Dream your dreams … go ahead, rediscover how to get in touch with your heart’s truest desires once again, because the New Year will soon be calling you into action. What you want, wants you! Regardless of what has occurred in your life this past year, the Spirit of the season beckons you to continue forward with the dreams that are trying to be dreamed through you. Some dreams are as simple as those we dreamed of in childhood. Some dreams are bigger than we "of ourselves" can accomplish.

This is the magic of Christmas …Connect with the Spirit of the season…Dream Big!
A sweet movie reminding us of wishes past:

Mattel Toys – Donating to Needy Children

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Mattel Toys – Donating to Needy Children

For charitable giving only– getting toys to donate to needy kids for the holidays.

Mattel Toy Store’s Charity Sales Program supports charitable purchases this holiday season. A charity customer can include almost anyone, as long as the toys purchased are then given to help children in need, or to programs that support children in need. Charity customers will receive a 30% discount on toys that are regular-priced, and sale prices are as is.

Mattel runs seven retail toy stores in Southern California, Wisconsin and Texas, as well as two seasonal stores. For store locations and information, please log onto

Additionally, for any interested groups who do not live near one of these stores, Mattel has a list available with special charity pricing. Customers can review the list and photos and for a nominal shipping fee, Mattel can mail the toy order to any destination of your choice in the US. This list is not published on Mattel’s website, but staff is happy to provide it should anyone like to see it. Contact Trish Procectto directly.

Trish Procetto, Charity Sales Manager, Mattel Toy Store
333 Continental Boulevard M1-0604
El Segundo, CA 90245
Phone 310.252.4236

Fax 310.252.2174
www.matteltoystore. com

Holiday Do’s in the Workplace

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Holiday Do’s in the Workplace

This time of year, the decisions that plague many a manager, leader and employee are filled with "what do I do for Christmas for my peers, boss, and direct reports?" Well, as the whole nation comes to a screeching halt and prepares for end of year numbers, final sales crunches, and multiple weeks of long over due vacation, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Make sure you handle this holiday season in a way that inspires, uplifts, shows gratitude and values who they are as people. Here are a few options…

Holiday Cards
Sometimes just a note will be enough to say Happy Holidays and Thank You for all that you Do! This works best when they are handwritten cards and when they address the specific holiday that the recipient is celebrating. Not everyone in the US celebrates Christmas. Keep in mind that if you have a multicultural work environment that your holiday options may not b merely limited to Christmas, Kwanzaa and Hanukkah. There may be other and for that reason and non-denominational or non-specific Happy Holiday greeting and card picture might be best. If your budget or time frame only allows for a card greeting this year then it will certainly express your thought and even step it up a notch with more than signature –" add a personal note. (*Do be careful what you say in way of performance in your cards, as these can later be used to prove that you thought they were doing a good job if you have to coach them at a later date. I know, I know, but it had to be said.)

Holiday Lunch or Party
A gathering of friends and family is often what makes the holidays so magical. If the team you have the privilege of working with considers each other friends, then take them to lunch all together, or have a party at someone’s house or consider having each person bring in a pot luck dish. Watch out for third shifters or late shifters who may not get to take part in the festivities. You want to uplift, not leave out those that matter. Also, watch the alcohol intake as the party of this year may turn into the grapevine of next year. Consider conducting a white elephant holiday party in which each person brings a gift valued at a small dollar amount ($10-$20) and through a series of number draws each person gets to take a gift or steal one from someone who has already gone. The funnier the gifts, the livelier the party.

Christmas Bonus
This one is a touchy one. If you have paid Christmas bonuses in the past, you want to keep doing that unless you are prepared to give ample warning. (i.e In July!) Money is not a long term motivator, but it will quickly de-motivate folks if you take it away and that may be the last thing your company needs in an effort to cut the budget. Christmas or holiday bonuses are a generous thing and employees may choose this over a trip, but one might be better off asking them what they want. Once it is spent, money is gone and often doesn’t have the same value that you think it does. Think of the last time you gave someone a raise. Did anyone hug your neck for a 3% yearly increase?

Monica Wofford, Speaker, Author, Trainer, Business Consultant

Toasts for Good Cheer

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Toasts for Good Cheer

No matter what looms ahead, if you can eat today, enjoy today,
mix good cheer with friends today enjoy it and bless God for it.
~Henry Ward Beecher

May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you,
a moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you.
Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray,
Heaven to hear you.
~Irish Blessings

These things I warmly wish for you
Someone to love, some work to do,
A bit o’ sun, a bit o’ cheer,
And a guardian angel always near.
~Irish Blessings

May you always have walls for the winds,
a roof for the rain,
tea beside the fire,
laughter to cheer you,
those you love near you
and all your heart might desire.
~Irish Blessings

Small cheer and great welcome makes a merry feast.
~William Shakespeare

At Christmas play and make good cheer,
for Christmas comes but once a year.
~Thomas Tusser

Kwanzaa: 7 Day Pan-African Festival

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7 Day Pan-African Festival

(or Kwaanza) is a week-long Pan-African festival primarily honoring African-American heritage. It is observed from December 26 to January 1 each year, almost exclusively in the United States of America.

Kwanzaa consists of seven days of celebration, featuring activities such as candle-lighting and pouring of libations, and culminating in a feast and gift-giving. It was created by Ron Karenga, and first celebrated from December 26, 1966, to January 1, 1967. Karenga calls Kwanzaa the African American branch of "first fruits" celebrations of classical African cultures.

The name Kwanzaa derives from the Swahili phrase "matunda ya kwanza," meaning "first fruits." The choice of Swahili, an East African language, reflects its status as a symbol of Pan-Africanism, especially in the 1960s, though most African-Americans have West African ancestry.

1997 began celebrating Kwanzaa as "A Celebration of Family, Community, and Culture." The first Kwanzaa stamp was issued by the United States Postal Service on October 22 at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles, California. In 2004 a second Kwanzaa stamp, created by artist Daniel Minter was issued which has seven figures in colorful robes symbolizing the seven principles.

  • Umoja (Unity) To strive for and to maintain unity in the family, community, nation and race.
  • Kujichagulia (Self-Determination) To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves and speak for ourselves.
  • Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility) To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems and to solve them together.
  • Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics) To build and maintain our own stores, shops and other businesses and to profit from them together.
  • Nia (Purpose) To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.
  • Kuumba (Creativity) To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.
  • Imani (Faith) To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

For items to purchase that celebrate Kwanzaa, go to
For more detailed information, go to: Wikipedia.

Workplace Holiday Gift-Giving Etiquette with Bosses and Co-Workers

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Workplace Holiday Gift-Giving Etiquette
with Bosses and Co-Workers

Company policies on gift giving among employees tend to vague or non-existent.  What has become increasingly prevalent, though, is a corporate attitude that actions that create or imply a hostile workplace environment will not be tolerated.  If there is a question of political correctness, people at all levels are encouraged to "play it safe."  Many companies also (formally and informally) put dollar limits, often $25, on gift values, mirroring traditional IRS guidelines for limits on undocumented gift giving. 

In this environment of increased sensitivity, finding "appropriate" gifts has become challenging.  Personal items are often "out."  Self-improvement gifts can send the wrong message.  Gifts of alcohol may carry undesirable risk levels.  While some food gifts remain popular (holiday turkeys, hams, steaks, fruitcakes, etc), the proliferation of food allergies can make these gifts problematic. 

What continue to be safe are subscription based publications focused on expressed personal interest, inspirational gift books such as Heart of the Holidays that focus on multiple Seasonal Holidays, decorative gifts (ornaments, inexpensive collectibles) if you know a person’s religious preferences, gift baskets (whose contents are often almost immediately re-gifted), gift certificates (which now usually are not issued in piles as a way to circumvent the rules, but now actually meet the guidelines) and event tickets (though all too few are available at the targeted $25 price point.

A final note is that given the downsizing issue, both benefits and perks (such as seasonal gifts) are more frequently varied so as not to create "conditions of employment" which Courts have ruled to be entitlements in some cases.

Length of tenure can dictate what kind of gift is given, as well as how interactive the working relationship.  Personal assistants will typically receive a more personalized gift than direct reports. The shorter, more impersonal, the relationship, the more likely a card is most appropriate.  This equation goes both ways.  Company policy may also dictate the gift.  In some workplaces, the work group pools their giving, buying for one other member, limiting the value of the gift to the traditional $25/limit and determining who they will be buying for by lot. 

Boss to employee gifts need not be reciprocated, but should be acknowledged in writing and on paper.

Gifts for the boss – gift certificates for books, music and/or merchandise; subscriptions if the employee knows his/her interests; books themselves; and personally prepared holiday foods (cakes, cookies, etc). 

-John Reddish


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Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary,
because it means you’ve made a difference.

It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

– Author Unknown

Family Holidays: Built Upon the Past

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Family Holidays: Built Upon the Past
November 21, 2007

As the holidays approach, you may be preparing yourself to gather with family members you don’t usually spend time visiting. You may even feel that you are choosing to meet more from a sense of obligation than celebration. But when we trust that the universe always places us exactly where we need to be, we know that we have been placed in our families for some higher purpose. Your spirit may have chosen that particular group of souls to help you learn certain lessons, or to give you the experiences necessary to overcome specific challenges. And when we feel we’ve moved away from situations that don’t resemble us or the life we choose to live, it can seem frustrating to put ourselves back into an old scenario. But even a sense of obligation is a sign that you are still connected to the energy of your family, and for that alone it is worth investing yourself into making the most of any gathering.

Once surrounded by people from your past, you may find that you are feeling challenged by a sort of identity crisis. There is likely to be a gap between the person you know yourself to be now and how you are seen by those who knew you before. But you can call upon your inner strength to stand in your truth and simply be who you are without needing their approval or heeding any criticism. Then, you can offer them the gift you’d like to receive when you also allow them to be themselves.

Being in situations that we might not choose for ourselves allows us to see ourselves in a new light. The contrast helps us to see our own strengths and weaknesses, and to learn to accept others for theirs. Part of the magic of family is the way in which it bonds diverse people together, allowing them to function as a complete unit. Who we are today has been built upon our past. If nothing else, rejoining with the family and friends who knew us in our earlier days allows us to recall where we came from so that we can appreciate all that we’ve been given.

RECIPE: Non-Dairy, Low-Fat Pumpkin Pie (Vegan)

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Servings: 8
Nutrition Facts are for filling only.

1-1/2 packages Mori-Nu Silken Lite Firm Tofu*
2 cups canned or cooked pumpkin
2/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice or next 4 ingredients
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
3/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 unbaked 9" pastry crust

* For firmer texture, use Mori-Nu Silken Extra Firm Tofu

Drain tofu and blend in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; blend well. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven for about 1 hour. Filling will be soft, but will firm as it chills. Chill and serve.
Nutritional Notes
Provides 2g of fiber per serving
Nutritional Facts

Calories: 122 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 26g
Sodium: 49mg Cholesterol:: 0mg Protein: 4g

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