mother teresa

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXV

I almost missed it! Monday holidays always mess me up! Hope yours was a good one!

To start off with, I’m thankful for this absolutely gorgeous piece of body art:


I had it done by the incredibly talented Alyshia Alagiak Osborn at Truth & Triumph in Vandalia. I am so thrilled to finally have the perfect tribute to my beloved Prince. I’ve waited years to get one because I wanted just the right thing, and wanted to find just the right artist, and I did. I didn’t give her much to go on; mostly just told her that i wanted an outline of the Prince symbol with watercolor splotches around it. She came up with this basically on her own and I absolutely love it. Every time I look at it I see something different – waves, leaves, splashes of paint, purple rain – it’s just amazing. 

The funniest thing is, I got the tattoo last Wednesday – two days after my birthday. I had a good birthday but unfortunately was incredibly sick most of the day, so I half-jokingly said that I wanted a do-over birthday to make up for the stomach bug. Well, on Wednesday, I started with a lovely manicure, wound up meeting one of my KEEP Collective designers in person for the first time, got free Chipotle, got this gorgeous tattoo and then arrived home to find out I had promoted for the second time in May through KEEP and am now a senior designer! So I basically got the do-over I wanted!

And on Friday, my husband and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary! It’s amazing to think we’ve actually been together well over half of our lives! We celebrated with dinner on Saturday night. The older I get, the more I am grateful for the simple day to day acts of love and caring that make up our marriage. I’m beginning to think that’s the key to it all – appreciating the small moments of happiness in our lives. I’m so excited to see what the next 27 years have in store for us!

And of course, we got to spend Memorial Day with lots of family, which is always fun. I hope that you all had a beautiful weekend as well.

I’ve set myself a goal to post more on the blog, so I’ll be back soon!

Much love – Mama Bear

life should not be

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXIV

Yesterday was my birthday, and even though the birthday gods decided to bestow some kind of wicked tropical stomach virus on me on the anniversary of my birth, I still have a lot to be grateful for this week!

bday presents

So this is the picture collage I made of the gifts from my family. I always do this to put in my scrapbook/journal. I do it for Christmas and birthdays and Mother’s Day. This one is particularly special because there are SO many inside jokes involved but also because it just shows how well my family knows me. What inside jokes? Well, that little Snoopy? It’s on a card meant for a six-year-old. For the longest time we’ve all joked that it’s not fair that only kids get cards for their actual age, so we like to modify that. So my youngest bought a card for a six-year-old and put a “4” in front of it. Yep – a card for a special 46 year-old. The card next to it? Yep – that’s Prince from his self-titled album with a jaunty little party hat on. You’ll also notice said Prince card came in an envelope with a quote from “Wedding Crashers” on it. We repeat that one often around these parts. I’ve actually signed cards that way: “Love, Mom the Meatloaf, Fuck!”.

And speaking of my love of profanities, that’s perhaps the best coloring book ever made in the second row of photos. I plan on coloring photos and sending them to friends and loved ones when they’re down. Next to it? “Graffiti Bridge” and “Sign O’ the Times” on DVD. Now, as any Prince fan knows, you can’t find “Sign O’ The Times” on DVD unless you’re willing to part with an arm, leg and your firstborn. But my husband, who’s perhaps the most creative person I’ve ever met when it comes to gift-giving, bought a Region 2 copy and then read up on how to play it on our DVD player. It involved downloading software, ripping the disk and recopying it with that software (I think – I didn’t really understand the whole process). So he gave me the original disk as well as a copy (which is in the bottom right hand corner). Come to find out, we evidently own a region-free DVD player, because the original plays just fine. Since we had an extra copy, I figured I’d give it to the kids. While writing the title on the DVD, I forgot that it was “Sign O’ The Times” and not “Graffiti Bridge” and didn’t notice it until my husband pointed it out, so I corrected the label on the DVD before giving it to the kids. Well, sort of. And then there’s “Penny Dreadful” – in my humble opinion, maybe the best tv show ever!

Now the third row – I had a long-running vendetta against whoever stocks the magazines in the stores around here because the Prince edition of “Rolling Stone” featuring that luscious photo of Prince from back in the day wasn’t making it onto the shelves until a good 10 days after it was supposed to be put out. (Funny story – I got grounded for having that exact poster on my wall back in 1985 or so.) I even talked to the magazine guy and he said he had them sitting in the back. It took another 8 days before they made it out front. In that 8 days I probably checked every store 6 or 7 times. So, my son, Drew, came up with the idea to make a miniature book with that cover on it. That’s an actual miniature book with actual pages and the Rolling Stone cover on it – handmade and adorable! I love miniatures anyway, but miniature Prince stuff? Amazing! And then the bath bombs – my daughter had a friend make them for me, as I am absolutely addicted to bath products. These are lavender and jasmine and they smell absolutely divine. And then there’s that copy of “Graffiti Bridge” that is actually “Sign O’ The Times” – that’s a one-of-a-kind copy – priceless!

dr everything

And then this came today – absolutely genius t-shirt from my oldest. Secretly I love belated birthday wishes and gifts because it just draws out the celebration! And I didn’t get a photo of them but I got absolutely beautiful lilacs from my mother-in-law and in-law siblings because they know how much I love them and how much they remind me of the smell of lilacs at my grandma’s house when I was a little girl.

It’s not the gifts. I mean, they’re amazing. But it’s the fact that they all take the time and they know me so well and everything they do is full of love and caring and has special meaning between us. Just about all of the best things in my life come back to this small group of people and I feel so incredibly blessed to have them all in my life! I’m really looking forward to all the new blessings and changes that will come in the next year!

More on turning 46 to come later this week (hint: it’s all good!).

Much love. – Mama Bear

the only way to change

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXIII

It’s Tuesday again! And it has been a really amazing week for me. I hope yours has been the same!

It starts with my job – KEEP Collective, just as it has for the last few weeks. My little team has been growing by leaps and bounds and I’m so proud of all the progress we’ve all made toward our goals. To me, success has less to do with numbers than it has to do with setting little goals and achieving them. But it also helps to get recognition for your successes and lucky for us, KEEP does a great job with that! I’ve promoted two months in a row, and one of my girls promoted after being with us only a couple of weeks and is in a prime position to promote again! It has shown me in so many ways that sometimes the best thing we can do is jump in the deep end and ignore the voices telling us that we can’t do it. Just stepping outside my comfort zone and reaching out to people has been such a boost to my self-confidence. And as it turns out, the very thing I was terrified of, namely trying to coach a team, has turned out to be the most rewarding part of the whole thing! I really can’t wait to see what’s in store next for our little team!

if your dreams dont scare you

And our youngest son has finished his junior year of high school almost two weeks early! This kid has been on fire all year long. He’s done so well in all his classes, made high honor roll, and now exempted out of all of his exams because of his grades and hard work. It’s hard to believe that our baby is going to be graduating next year, but I know that incredible things lie ahead for him. He has a boundless imagination, a huge heart and compassionate spirit and I can’t wait to see where life takes him.

The wedding plans for our oldest son and his fiancee are coming along well. It’s so exciting to think of what the next year or so is going to mean for all of our kids. They’re all in a period of tremendous growth, and it’s such a blessing to be able to see the changes and transformations that are going on as their lives change and expand. It’s hard to imagine when they’re babies, but it’s so fascinating to watch them as they grow and become their own people. I loved the baby days when I could sit and hold them for hours on end, but there’s a real joy in seeing them as they grow up and hit milestones and make lives for themselves.

roots and wings

So this week is all about transformation and growth. It seems to be a common theme for my life lately as well as the lives of a lot of people around me. It’s amazing what can happen when you embrace the changes and go with the flow. I can’t wait to see what’s just around the bend!

Much love. – Mama Bear


Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXII

It’s Tuesday! Time to get some gratitude on!

I’m not sure I’ve ever really believed in the whole Mercury retrograde thing but WOW – the last few weeks have been freaky! So first of all, I’m grateful that I’ve managed to keep a sense of humor about some of the weirdness that’s gone on. And nothing too drastically crazy has happened (yes, I’m knocking on some serious wood right now.)


Once again, I am incredibly grateful for my Twin Cities connection, Lou. She’s spanned the globe finding the best in Prince magazines for me, as she knows that I live in a cultural wasteland. (I can’t even get a copy of “Rolling Stone” here. Oh, the humanity!) Yesterday I got a package of some of the most glorious collector’s editions I’ve seen, including the aforementioned copy of “Rolling Stone” with this deliriously wonderful cover:

rolling stone cover

The funniest part about this? I got grounded for having this very poster in my room when I was a teenager! 

The magazines, the music, connecting with other Prince fans and my friends has helped ease the loss of this amazing man. And although I hate the way this has come about, it’s also caused a revival in interest in his work. Sirius now has a channel devoted entirely to Prince, and he has taken the top two album spots on Billboard’s Top 200 and several of the single spots as well. And finally, old fans and new are finding out things they never knew about him through interviews with friends and other artists and we’re able to see videos that most of us haven’t seen in years. So even in the midst of the sorrow of losing him, there’s new discovery and joy from his work.

And I am on the verge of promoting for the second time in as many months with KEEP Collective and I couldn’t be more excited! I set a goal for myself for May; I wanted to book 4 socials and promote to Associate Designer by my birthday. Well, I still have 2 weeks left and it looks like there’s no reason I won’t reach those goals! My team is growing and they’re doing an amazing job! And I’m meeting so many people and building relationships, which really is the best part of this job! Every month I’m more and more convinced that I made the right choice in joining KEEP Collective and that between KEEP and this blog, I’ve found my calling!

heart under arrow

And I had a wonderful Mother’s Day! I got to see all my kids – the ones I gave birth to and the ones that I didn’t – so that made it amazing! The older I get, the more I appreciate the time that I get to spend with my family all together. And I’m also reminded of how very blessed I am to have 3 healthy, happy kids and that they’re kind to one another and to others. It was a very low-key day, but it was perfect! Exactly what I needed.

happy moms day

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, too! 

Overall, I’m feeling more optimistic and energized than I have in quite awhile and a lot of it is just because I’ve done a lot of work on setting goals for myself (even little bitty ones) and taking stock of my success when I achieve them. That goes such a long way toward building self-confidence and self-esteem. And it makes it a lot easier to ignore those little voices in your head that fill you with self-doubt and fears.

I hope your May is rockin’ as hard as mine is!

Much love. – Mama Bear


Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXI

This week was a bit easier than the last.

Actually, this week had some real bright spots. To begin with, I got to spend some time with my 6-month old niece and her older brother. It’s awfully hard to be sad when you’re around a baby, isn’t it? Or kids in general. They’re an awesome reminder that life goes on and that there’s always going to be something to smile about if you wait just a bit. (I won’t go into the part about how long it’s been since I’ve had to deal with a diaper blowout and how shocking that was after all this time…haha)

The biggest source of gratitude this week – I earned my first KEEP Collective promotion last week! I’ve been with KEEP since right after Christmas 2015, and honestly, I originally joined just because I love the products so much and I wanted to get the kit. Then I had people showing interest in the jewelry I was wearing and I thought, “Hey, maybe this would be a good side hustle for me.” I still had about 10 other irons in the fire at that point, but that little negative voice kept telling me that I wasn’t suited for sales, that I’m too introverted, that I wasn’t like the other women on my team – just didn’t have the confidence, blah blah blah. But I qualified my first month in. Yet I still wasn’t confident that I could do it. But I signed up to go to conference in August in Charlotte, North Carolina, and I promised myself I would give it until conference to make a go of it. Then I started getting a little bit more confidence and started approaching people and talking about it and then April hit. All of a sudden, I’ve got two designers on my team, and I’ve had the biggest month since I started with KEEP and I’ve promoted! And now, by the second day of May, I had already qualified again! What’s my secret? Consistency, confidence and products that I really believe in. And yeah, I’m crazy proud of myself and of my little team! I was talking to my daughter about how shocked I was at all of it because I’m just not the salesman type. And she said something that really blew me away. She said, “Well maybe that’s a good thing. A lot of people are turned off by the hard sell. Maybe doing it your way is going to really appeal to those people.” So there you go – the very thing about you that you think might be your greatest downfall, could in fact turn out to be a great strength! And the thought of being a mentor, which terrified me when I started, has turned out to be the most satisfying part of this job! And I’ve set an even bigger goal for myself this month! (I’ll keep you posted.)

invisible crown

And May is my absolute favorite month of the year. Yes, it’s my birthday month, but more than that, it’s when Spring usually is in full swing. The lily of the valley and lilacs are blooming (my two favorites), the sun is out and it’s prom, wedding and graduation season. It’s a time of new beginnings and a time when it seems like anything is possible. And the entirety of summer stretches out before us. I love it!

lily of the valley

So here’s to new beginnings, and turning negatives into positives and making this summer the best ever!

Much love. – Mama Bear