Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy The-New-Black Friday! A couple hundred of us are spending part of the day today cozy at home creating Love Lists as holiday gifts for family and friends.

I hope you'll be joining in!

You can download a professionally-designed Love List that you print out, fill out, and give out. Simple — and sweet as pumpkin pie!

Or, if you want to get a l'il fancy, there are lots of ideas for other ways to present your Love Lists. On our Facebook Event Group I've shared some photos of Fortune Cookie Love Lists, Joy Jars, and Love Lists Books.

Today, I want to share yet another unique way to present your Love List: as a customized Tiny Book. I first learned about Tiny Books from my wildly creative and artistic friends, Maya Stein and Amy Tingle. Last summer they created a whole library of tiny how-to books, which they showcased along their TypeRider 2 Journey from Boulder to Beloit on a tandem bike. (!!!)

I shared their story — and a Tiny Book I created —in a blog post a couple months ago. One of my dear friends, Tina Tierson, got inspired to make a Tiny Book as a gift for a mutual friend of ours, Jill.

When Tina shared her idea with me and sent me photos, I was so excited! I hadn't thought of these Tiny Books as gifts! What an awesome idea. I was inspired by Maya and Amy. Tina was inspired by me. And I got inspired all over again by Tina.

So now I want to offer a twist on a twist on a twist on Tiny Books: Make 'em into little Love List Books!

(The photo to the left is the gift book Tina made. I got a little intimidated when I saw how beautiful this was. A reminder to all of us: these books can be handwritten and really simple. The heart will still be there, I promise!)

 

How to make a Tiny Book Love List:

  • Click here to see a sample of a Tiny Book I created called "How to Survive in the Dark." You can see what the finished books look like.
  • Click here to find a video tutorial on creating your blank Tiny Book. If you use colored card stock or decorative paper, the book pages will be like Tina's in the photo above. If you use white card stock, the book will have white pages.
  • Write one thing you love about the recipient on each page of the book.
  • Decorate with doodles, stickers, markers, or magazine cut-outs.

 

Hope to see you sometime today at The New Black Friday!

Delights,
Sherry

P.S. If you do make a Love List for someone, please let us know so you can be counted toward my crazy goal of inspiring a million Love Lists in my lifetime. Click here to submit! (And you'll get a free gift from me afterward!)





Sunday, November 23, 2014

I recently returned from an amazing experience at a "camp for creative adults" called Life is a Verb Camp, hosted by author Patti Digh.

I've been wanting to write about my experience, but have felt rather tongue-tied. You know how it is when you've been someplace that feels life-changing? Words sometimes feel a little stiff or not-quite-right.

But then yesterday I was on a call — this was a business call, mind you— and one of the trainers for this call, Milana Leshinsky, said, "I'm not too woo-woo to say I love you."

And blam. I had it. Handed to me on the proverbial silver platter.

Because not-too-woo-woo-to-say-I-love-you kinda sums up not only how it felt to be at Patti's Camp, but also where my focus is right now— which is encouraging people to create Love Lists for The New Black Friday.

It can be a bit awkward and clumsy to tell the people in our lives — family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances— how much we appreciate them. But like anything, practice is key. My mission is to help facilitate expressions of appreciation in as many ways as I can. Join me. Let's practice together!


Life is a Verb Camp: A Tiny Slice of That Appreciation Pie
There are lots of stories I could share with you about Patti Digh's camp. (And I will likely tell you more down the road.) But what struck me the most was how generous of heart and spirit everyone was.

From the moment I stepped foot on the grounds of Camp Kanuga, there was a sense that magic was afoot. And here's what that "glitter-gleam" feeling was: every single person seemed to be on the lookout for what they could love and appreciate about the others. It was palpable. You could see it in people's eyes: they were seeking out the best in one another. And they were verbalizing it and cheering it on.

This is the kind of world I want to live in all the time. And we can create it for ourselves, moment by moment. We just need to be on the lookout for what we appreciate and how to express it.

 

Paper Bag Love
One of the things I had prepared for my trip to camp was that I made "appreciation mailbags" for everyone who was attending. The idea was to have the mailbags out where folks could leave little notes for one another, signed or secret.

At the end of the camp, I was so honored to receive the "Golden Heart" Award. The truth is, I was just lucky enough to get to be a facilitator of so much love. While at camp, I got to mirror everyone's golden hearts. Whenever we initiate things that help people love and appreciate one another, the ripple effect is amazing.

 

 

How to create some paper bag love at your house or office during the holidays:

  •     Purchase some colorful bags. (Try your local dollar store or make 'em out of brown paper lunch bags.)
  •     Find a central location in your home or office to leave the bags visible.
  •     Label the bags so that everyone has one.
  •     Provide blank paper, note cards, or stationery near the bags.
  •     Explain to everyone that these bags are for people to leave secret or signed notes of things they're grateful for about the person, special memories, happy stories, inspiring quotes, etc.
  •     As the organizer, see if you can get the ball rolling by leaving at least one note or two for everyone. Model how it's done!
  •     Watch the magic happen.

 

 

"The New Black" Friday: A mission to encourage more love and less stress at the holidays

Here's another easy and fun way to express your love. Join us on Friday, November 28 for The New Black Friday. A bunch of us are spending part of the day at home, creating Love Lists (not shopping lists!) for our loved ones.


So listen, let's not be too woo-woo to say I love you. Let's say it in all kinds of ways to all kinds of people in our lives. Let's appreciate one another with secret notes or singing exclamations. Let's make Love Lists for family, friends, teachers, store clerks, and bus drivers.

Let's say it now. Because life is fleeting.

Delights of the season,
Sherry

 

***

Photo Credits:
Camp Hug with Melissa Dinwiddie: Kind passerby!
Golden Heart Award with Patti Digh: Basia Kruszewska
Paper Bag Love: Bo Mackison
Happy foursome at camp: Ren Allen

Mail bag idea credit:  Thank you to Jennifer Robbins for inspiring the mail bag idea. When I volunteered for the Brendon Burchard Group, Jennifer had us all create mail bags for one another. Yay for you, Jenni. You really inspired me!





Thursday, October 16, 2014

Thank you to everyone who responded to my request for help celebrating my 50th birthday with the 50-50-50 Kindness Project.

In short, I'm sending 50 cards to 50 strangers in 50 days.

(There are still just a few slots open if you know someone who needs some extra love and a l'il boost right now. Just email me.)

It's already been an extraordinary journey to connect with so many of you and to hear about your loved ones who are going through so much — health issues, loss of loved ones, divorce, disappointments. I'm reminded of that saying, "10,000 joys and 10,000 sorrows." It's all part of this human journey, but that doesn't make it easy. We need all the love and compassion we can get.

I know for myself, that when I'm going through a hard time, the smallest of kindnesses can really help. Those are the pinpricks of light I want to offer others.

Would you want to help offer some pinpricks of light and hope to some folks, as well? My spiritual teacher, Cheri Huber, started a co-operative in Kantolomba, a small slum outside Ndola, Zambia. The Africa Vulnerable Children Project provides healthy nutrition, safe housing, health care, employment, clean water, and education to the community. The nutrition program feeds more than 800 children every day!

If you've been inspired at all by my 50-50-50 Kindness Project and you would like to also offer some kindness to strangers, it would make me so happy if you'd be willing to donate to this amazing project. Money goes a long way in Africa. For example, $15 pays for food for a child for an entire month.

Anything you could offer would be incredibly appreciated and I can vouch for the integrity of this program. Living Compassion is a 501c(3) organization.

Details on how to donate are below. Just be sure to email me if you donate, so I can thank you myself. Because your donations would be a pinprick of light you're sending to me, as well as to those beautiful folks in Kantolomba. (No need to tell me how much you donated; any amount from $1+ is greatly appreciated!)

Newly 50 + grateful for you,
Sherry


P.S. I just love the quote from Hada Bejar on the photo at the top: "The fragrance always stays in the hand that gives the rose." In other words, it is impossible to give a pinprick of light without basking in that light yourself. It is a beautiful circle of giving.
 


How to donate to Living Compassion's Africa Vulnerable Children Project:

 

1. Send a check to me in the amount you would like to donate made out to "Living Compassion."
 

Mail to:
Sherry Belul
150 Cayuga Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112

**be sure to include your name and mailing address so they can acknowledge your donation and make sure you receive a tax statement at the end of the year. Living Compassion is a 501c(3) organization.

 

2. Donate via a secure server by clicking on this link:
You will see a notes box following your name and donation amount. In the notes box, please write, "Donation for Sherry Belul's 50th Birthday."

https://app.etapestry.com/hosted/LivingCompassion/AfricaSponsorship.html

 


3. Simply send me your donation via PayPal.
You can send funds via PayPal, using the "send funds" button and sending to connect@simplycelebrate.net. Please note that if you send funds this way, 100% of your donation will still go to the African children, but you will not receive a tax statement, since I'll write one big check from all of us.





Sunday, September 28, 2014

 

I'm turning 50 this week. And over the last couple years, I discovered the secret to having a truly extraordinary birthday: creating pinpricks of light for people.

{What's a pinprick of light? It's a moment of color, connection, or caring. A bit of light to brighten their day.}

Yep. When I turned 48, the idea dropped in to send 48 acts of kindness to 48 people in 48 hours. I was dizzy with energy and love. Maybe a little *too* dizzy. It was a lot to do in such a small space of time. So last year, I decided to change hours to days ... and I sent 49 cards to 49 people in 49 days.

Anyone want to wager a bet on this year's project?

You got it.

For the 50-50-50 project I will send 50 cards to 50 people in 50 days.

And I need your help.

Do you know someone who is scared, sad, disappointed, or broken-hearted? Or maybe there's someone in your life who deserves a resounding atta-girl or atta-boy?

I can send them a card on behalf of you, anonymously (from the universe), or signed from me. All you have to do is send me an email and tell me the person's name and mailing address + a tiny bit about why they deserve some extra love right now.

{Here's the secret: for every pinprick of light I create for someone else, I get one, too. And guess what, since you're an accomplice, you *also* get to feel that pinprick of light!}


The back-story:


Many of you know that I went through a deep depression about 25 years ago. I felt like an iron wall was surrounding me. I was graced to be led to meditation, which helped me see that tiny moments could bring relief from the pain I was in.

I began to seek out those moments every day. It might be standing outside and feeling the breeze on my cheek. It might be hearing the love in a friend's voice. It might be the sound of bells tinkling in the distance.

Those moments were pinpricks of light in that solid iron wall around me.

After a while, I realized that I didn't have to wait for those moments to land on me. I could create them. Every conscious act of celebration or appreciation added more pinpricks to that wall.

And before I knew it, there was more light than wall. Beautiful, bathing light that I could bask in. And that I could invite others into.

This has been my practice for 25 years. And there's no better way to celebrate this milestone birthday than by joining forces with you to share some light 'n love with folks who need it.

Here's to every singular pinprick of light. May we always be seeking and creating them —for ourselves and others.

Nearly 50,
Sherry



P.S. Looking forward to receiving your emails so I can send 50 pinpricks of light to 50 people in 50 days.





Wednesday, September 17, 2014

I'm turning 50 in a couple weeks and it's got me thinking a lot about my life. You know, stuff like, "Am I doing what I feel like I'm here to do?"

I try to practice remembering how fleeting life is. How unpredictable. Anything can happen to any of us at any time. Remembering that helps me stay more present to my life and to the people I love.

So while that is true for anyone of any age, there's something about the 50 mark that really brings it home in a new way for me. It's likely there are fewer years ahead of me than behind me!

This feels like a time to recommit to myself and my work in the world. In light of that, I'd love to share with you a manifesto I wrote, thanks to the work of Alexandra Franzen:


My manifesto:

It breaks my heart wide open when I hear people at funerals wishing they'd expressed their appreciation while the person they loved was still alive.

Or folks at the end of their lives feeling like they missed the color and magic in the midst of to-do's and obligations.
 
What the world really needs is permission to celebrate everyday moments and revel in giving exceptional gifts.
 
And I'm here to make that happen for as many people as I possibly can.
 
Because one day I want to live in a world where we carry paper parasols in our pockets to slip into our colleagues' morning muffins. A world where we're not afraid to say out loud, "I love you because___" to our sister, best friend, or kindly stranger we meet on the bus. I want to live in a world where it really is the thought that counts instead of money talks.
 
I do this work because I want to live in a world in which singular moments can be extraordinary gifts we give ourselves and those we love.
 
And if you want to live in that world, too, I have one question for you: who or what will you celebrate today?   

Sherry Richert Belul


Thank you so much for following along on my journey. It means so much to me!
xo
Sherry



**** Keep an eye out in the next couple weeks for some ways you can help me celebrate my birthday! I've got a few ideas up my sleeves.

**** Oh, and if you want to write your own manifesto, Alex has a free script here. (Plus other freebies!)