la vie est belle

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume 41

Yep – you guessed it. I reached the limits of my knowledge of Roman numerals. But hey, it was fun while it lasted, right?

I’m not going to lie; it’s been hard coming up with posts for awhile. It’s not that I’m not grateful or that there aren’t plenty of things for me to feel grateful about in my life. It’s that I’ve been struggling to stay in that space. It feels a lot like some kind of rite of initiation where you’re standing atop a platform while the rest of the village throws stuff at you to try to knock you off. (Or was that just a thing in “Ace Ventura”?) You climb back up to the top of the platform but it’s difficult to maintain your position there for very long. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one feeling this way, particularly with all that’s going on in the world lately.

I get this way when I get overwhelmed, and honestly, it doesn’t take much to overwhelm me anymore. I get tired of having the 24-hour news cycle in my face, especially since most of it is just reckless fear-mongering. I get tired of seeing man’s inhumanity to man played out over and over again on a daily basis. I get all fired up about some of the things that are going on and convinced that I have to stay active and informed in all of it because y’know, somehow, I’m going to be able to change something. 

Well, it’s time for me to take a step back and spend more time doing the things that restore my own peace of mind and keep me in a place of gratitude. I don’t need to be tuned in 24/7 to know that there’s danger and pain in the world. I know it’s out there. But I’ve spent too much time focused on that and not focused on all the good that’s still there.

So, I had to dig a little deeper to hit that place of gratitude, but it’s still there. And here’s what made my list this week:

I don’t have cable, so I didn’t get to see the BET Awards live, but they had promised weeks ago that they were going to really deliver a fitting tribute to Prince. And they did not disappoint. It was hard to watch,because it just smacks you in the face with the realization that he really is gone, and really nobody can do Prince’s music like he could, but the tributes were heartfelt and they had at least a bit of his energy and soul. My favorite (of course) was Sheila E. and the NPG. If you didn’t see it, check it out on BET’s website.

sheila e with guitar

Yep – that’s His guitar in their hands. 

Sunday we took a break and went to see “Finding Dory” with 2 of the kids. If you’re feeling low, Dory is truly the perfect medicine. And I really think this movie is better than the original (mostly because it features Dory, which was my favorite part of “Finding Nemo”). It’s definitely a hit.

just keep swimming

And now, I’m off to go and find something happy to watch and maybe work on some project that makes me smile. Maybe I’ll just go inside my pillow fort with some crayons. It’s time for a bit of peace. Have a beautiful week!

Much love – Mama Bear


Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XL (haha)

No, I don’t think this volume of Total Gratitude Tuesday is any bigger than the rest; I just think it’s funny that “XL” is 40 in Roman numerals.

It’s definitely been a rough week or so for a lot of people. Whether you’re a part of the LGBTQ community, an ally, or just someone who is tired of seeing innocent people being slaughtered for no reason at all, it’s disheartening and frustrating that there’s so much violence in our country, and so few who are willing to work together to figure out solutions. And it’s easy if you’re the sensitive type, to get overwhelmed and feel like there’s just not enough good left in the world. When that happens, I always remember this:

What beautiful advice. And he (well, his mom) was absolutely right. There are always helpers. You just have to look for them.

And in the midst of all the pain and sorrow and violence, I got the chance to attend two different Pride events – one before the tragedy and one after. I’m happy to report the mood in both cases was upbeat and joyful. Of course the Columbus Pride parade, coming as it did a week after the murders, was tinged with sadness and sorrow but underneath it all there was a stubborn determination not to let the actions of one criminal ruin the day. And as it turns out, there were over 600,000 people at the festival – that’s double the number in attendance last year. It was a great testimonial to the strength and resilience of the LGBTQ community, and I’m so glad we got the chance to attend.


That evening, we attended a candlelight vigil at a local club with local clergy, members of the LGBTQ community and other allies. It was a much more sober event, and rightfully so, but it was beautiful, too. We released 49 balloons, each with the name of one of the victims from Orlando. And different members of the community spoke, and one of the ideas that stuck with me was when one man called places like Pulse a “sanctuary” for gays, and how important those sanctuaries are, since often gays and lesbians aren’t welcomed into churches and other places you’d typically think of in that way. And how much worse that makes the devastation because those people were killed in a place where they sought sanctuary, not just a bar, much like the church shooting in Charleston last year. More than anything, I think it was important to get together and offer support and remembrance. And we need to be that for one another.

balloons my victim

The balloons as they were released and the name attached to my balloon.

And on to happier topics –

Last Sunday, we celebrated our youngest son’s 17th birthday (I had to type that 3 times because it felt like a mistake!). We went to an Escape Room together (yes, we escaped) and then had dinner. And then we got together again this Sunday for Father’s Day, and played board games and laughed until my sides ached. I’m constantly amazed at  how well all the kids get along and how much fun we have together. I don’t know how in the world we got so lucky but we always have a good time when we’re all together. I appreciate the time I have with them now more than ever because with jobs and everything that’s going on in everyone’s lives, it’s more difficult to get together. But I am very aware of how lucky I am to have them all as my family.

And I found out over the weekend that I had won a contest on my KEEP Collective team! I got so excited about double promoting last month that I’d forgotten I was even in the contest, but my director messaged me and let me know I’d won! What did I win? Well, this super cute pair of Tory Burch flip flops! I think I’ve won more contests in the past year than I have in the last 45 combined but maybe that’s because I’m putting myself out there more. Either way – wow!

tory burch

And I went on a little spending spree with the $575 in product credit that I got for my double promotion last month! It was fun to splurge a little on myself and it was a really good week mail-wise!


My latest KEEP haul – all free!

And I finally got a bit of down-time last week, which I really needed. Sometimes I forget, in all the hustle and bustle, that it’s okay to relax and slack off just a bit. But you’ve got to take care of yourself first to be able to take care of anybody else, right?

Anyway, have a great week!

Til next time!

Much love – Mama Bear

pride love

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXVIV

In light of the recent tragedy in Orlando, I’ve chosen to change things a bit this week.

I am grateful for many things, and I focus on those things every week on this blog. Last week, I had the opportunity to connect with a wonderful group, Equality Springfield and plan a fundraiser to help them in their efforts to bring true equality for all of our local citizens. While marriage equality became a reality in America a year ago, in our area, it’s still perfectly legal for employers to fire employees based on their sexual orientation, and it’s legal for landlords to discriminate on the same basis. Equality Springfield is dedicated to changing that. Our local Pridefest was Saturday and I had the chance to participate and join in the fun! I met people from all walks of life and heard their stories and saw my first drag show (I know, I don’t get out much) and nearly got heatstroke and just had a wonderful time (in spite of the heatstroke). It’s very rare you get to spend the day with people who are all coming together for one singular purpose and such a positive one, besides. So much to be grateful for just in that one day.

And then I woke up Sunday to the news about Orlando.

And now, the fundraiser for Equality Springfield has turned into something bigger. We’ve decided that the proceeds from the fundraiser are going to go to the Pulse Orlando GoFundMe account. Equality Springfield decided (and I totally agree) that perhaps there was a more pressing need in Orlando, and I am really hoping that we get to send a huge donation to Orlando to help the victims and families there.

So here’s all the details:

If you don’t know about KEEP Collective, we’re a sister brand of Stella & Dot with interchangeable keys (charms) and Keepers (bracelets, key fobs and necklaces). All of the keys fit on all of the Keepers. And I’ve designed 4 products that customers can buy outright to honor the victims in Orlando (click thru to see each design):

In addition, you can customize any of those designs or make something one-of-a-kind and the proceeds will still go to Orlando if you order through the Equality Springfield KEEP Collective social link here. You can order through June 25.

Here are some other Pride designs for inspiration:

And here are some other ways to design your own one-of-a-kind look with KEEP Collective:

And if you need help placing an order, or would like to see your design before you buy it, contact me either through this site, or by emailing me at

This week, reach out to your LGBT friends & family members, check to see how they’re doing, and be as kind as you can to everyone you meet. I don’t know the answers to stopping things like this from happening, but I have to believe that they start with being kind to each other.

Much love. – Mama Bear

pride 2015 stack

Total Gratitude Tuesday: Volume XXXVII

If it tells you anything about how busy my Tuesday has been, I nearly missed my TGT post! But it’s been a good kind of busy, so it’s okay!

First, let’s acknowledge that today is Prince Day – at least in Minnesota (and with his fans, no matter where they live). Today Prince would have turned 58. It still seems impossible to me that he’s gone, but I love keeping his memory alive with his music. So, Happy Prince Day!


We just finalized all of our plans for our trip to Canada in August! We’re staying in Niagara Falls for two days, then to Quebec City for 3 days and then to Montreal for 4 days. It feels good to finally have all the details nailed in place and now I can relax a little and look forward to the trip! With Hoopla for 4 days in August and then the trip to Canada, August is going to be a busy month!

Our son and soon-to-be daughter-in-law’s wedding plans are coming along as well! The guys have found their clothing for the wedding, and it’s shaping up to be absolutely gorgeous. We’re all really excited about it!

And last night, we got almost the entire extended family together for my mother-in-law’s birthday! That doesn’t sound like it would be a big deal, but there’s 25 of us spread all over Ohio (and then 4 living out of state that unfortunately couldn’t make it)! But she’s a really amazing woman, so I’m glad we were able to work it out to celebrate her birthday together. It’s funny when I hear people talk about their mothers-in-law because mine has always been more like a mother to me and to all of the other in-laws as well (I’m the only daughter-in-law!). She has a big heart and there’s always room in it for more family and we’re all so very blessed to have her.

I’m coming off a really huge month with KEEP and it’s so amazing to me. My team had amazing sales last month and I double promoted and got the biggest paychecks I’ve ever received at any job, plus a ton of bonuses for my promotions! I went from thinking I wasn’t cut out at all for sales to hitting every one of my goals for the last two months.

I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I’m going to Springfield PrideFest and running a fundraiser for the group that’s running it, which is really exciting (my first fundraiser for KEEP Collective!), and on Sunday, we’re all getting together to do an Escape Room experience for our youngest son’s 17th birthday!

Hope you have an amazing week (and weekend) as well!

Much love. – Mama Bear