The first snow of the holiday season is especially magical. It lightly wafts and floats down from the stars to bless the pine branches and kiss the water. The first of December welcomes holiday spirits and festive traditions of gratitude for the past year. It invites hope for the new year to come. Every day of the year is a time to celebrate and give thanks for what and who we have. Kindness, warmth, and compassion need not wait for a holiday to be shared and freely given. Let’s be open to experience the magical splendor all around us.
All Posts (like this one) are excerpts from our upcoming books and all rights are reserved to Amor Milagre.
‘The Shoe Book, Original Designs by Amor Milagre’ is the long-awaited compilation of shoe designs from the past 10 years. A select few have been seen on occasion in a gallery or in a watered-down version on your neighbor’s feet. (Some of the designs were stolen at work years ago, which sadly is very common in the design world.) Most of the designs have never been seen. Here are a few new sketches from last week. We will release the first volume of our Shoe Book in 2017. The next volumes will release as new designs are born. They will release more often to prevent release delays such as this one. Thank you to my shoe design enthusiasts over the past 10 years. Apologies for the wait. There will be a book to accompany the original paintings you so kindly adopted into your homes.
Shoes are fascinating subjects to think about. They are your companions. Choose them wisely and they will help you in your life, improve your health, and lead you on extraordinary adventures.
Some families send cards this time of year. Some sign their name to someone else’s printed words. Some write very long letters recapping their past year. Others write personal letters of love, reconnection, and humble gratitude. I personally love to receive this last kind. They are thoughtful, meaningful, beloved, cherished, and kept in a special box to reread throughout the year and forever more. Hand drawn pictures and funny stories are very much appreciated.
In our stationery, we leave the inside blank for you to write your thoughts and messages. We designed our shop to allow you to customize and design your own collection to suit your style, life, and recipients.
Writing letters to yourself is a beautiful way to show how much you love and value yourself. You can seal it and write, open on the New Year, on your birthday, or on the next holiday. What smiles you will have on rereading these loving messages. What hope and drive will invigorate and inspire your tomorrows. We wish you a beautiful, loving holiday and every day!
The perspective that you gain from watching a miniature village and train operate is intriguing. One imagines the stories of the passersby. In big cities, one of the common places to sort out a problem is on a park bench, watching the crowds. Why is it in seeing others, we are more able to see ourselves? We see what we don’t want, then the direction we want to take is more clear.
I invite you to close your eyes and see from within as a daily practice. All of the answers are there. Sometimes, it is easy for people to get lost. If you know your true self, it is far easier to stay true to yourself. Pave your own way to live the way you need. A small travelling book or a pin board on a wall is a good place to keep things you love in daily sight. It can remind you of what you want and who you are when the world seems chaotic. Practicing techniques of calm and clarity build each day into a calmer, happy, healthy life.
Practicing is not as difficult as you may think. You don’t need to learn a new language. You may need to reconnect to the language that you were born with. Your natural voice and manner, before others taught you things, is still there. Practicing requires nothing but an open mind and love directed within that will in turn reflect outwards and serve as a kind of respectful protection of the self when you’re out and about or overwhelmed in thoughts. We are all small pieces of nature. Connecting to that rhythm enlightens and simplifies. We are love.
This is the same idea we teach in our various classes. If you come to one of our art classes with a stubborn attitude, closed off thoughts, and resistance to learn anything new, then you leave without learning or exploring anything new. If you come with an open mind, listen well, and are willing to try new things, then you will leave with new ideas to apply not only to art but to the art of living your specific life. What a powerful thing it is to be able to choose everything good for ourselves! What glorious things we can produce for the universe if we are open to their possibilities!
Every baby is unique and beautiful. This does not change as they age. You are unique and beautiful just as you were born. You are loved. Truly loved for being you. “Surround yourself in what & who you love,” is a quote by us, but I’ll add “and who loves and sees you just as you are.”
Every day is a good time for reflection, but holidays are somehow thought to be more of a reflection time for some. Build time for yourself into every day. If you manage your days throughout the year, the holiday can be stress free, organic in nature, and fun. You can design what you want. Set new, healthy traditions, free of stomach aches. Think the thoughts you want to materialize and it will be so. “This holiday is relaxing and a great, fun time to connect to myself, friends/family.”
Holidays reflect the state of our relationships. Are you smiling or frowning after reading this idea? What can you do all year to improve your relationships?
A New Dish for a New Year
A great new tradition for holiday meals could be for everyone to bring a new dish, and only enough to make up one dinner for a small party.
Keep it simple. Make healthy dishes consisting of 3-4 (or less) ingredients per dish. The dishes may have very similar ingredients. Choose fresh, organic, colorful ingredients. Cook with love for food that feels good in your body.
This allows a host to feel calm and enjoy their company. The company in turn are not anxious for the host and have a lovely time. You can have several meals with smaller groups over the course of one season. It may encourage the same throughout the year. I always found it difficult to sum up a year in one sentence as you eat and try to answer questions from relatives/family friends.
One year, I made the whole dinner made up of new-to-me recipes from Donna Hay Magazines. It was more of a success than other holiday dinners because the party was happy to try new things. It was beef wrapped in prosciutto with beet relish, mushroom risotto, pear walnut blue cheese salad, tiramisu, pistachio dark chocolate bark, hot cocoa/coffee. (FYI: This is tiny fraction of the giant amount of food prepared with endless family members I grew up seeing. Our family is much smaller now and so are the meals.) Conversation was more interesting and new information was shared. (There were no comparisons of various mashed potatoes over the years and who made them the best. No criticism at all, really. How refreshing!) We also went outside for a portion of the afternoon for a walk about the garden in the snow. Upon re-entering the house for a warm drink and dessert, everyone’s spirits were refreshed and light.
If I had organized the dinner so that others had brought dishes as well, I would not have been as tired. I could have been included, sitting at the table, and able to enjoy the evening. Dishes would have not been as time/energy-consuming either.
This way the host is not slaving away making enough so everyone takes home leftovers for a week. I recall my grandmother peeling endless amounts of potatoes each year in addition to making a week’s worth of homemade pasta and everything else. It is not about gluttony, overeating, or overspending on one meal. Holidays are simply about giving thanks for what and who you have. A dinner that is eaten in healthy portions and at a relaxed speed is much more enjoyable. Being ‘allowed’ in the kitchen during the holidays is nice for everyone. Often times in America, holidays are unnatural, overdone, and unsatisfying. The stress placed on achieving the “perfection” of a holiday meal can spoil the magical essence and mood of the holiday. Isn’t a laugh over Bridget’s blue string soup better than a “perfect” meal in stressful silence? I think so. It’s about trying and having a good day together. I’m sure lots of families know how to do simple, happy holidays. That is what our young family prefers to do, and it’s fun!
Smaller parties allow for such a calmly delicious atmosphere. You can hear the jokes from the kitchen if you step out to get something from the oven. Large parties are such a zoo. As a child, you spend most of the time trying to find an open seat space, without getting your cheeks pinched or an “egg” cracked over your head. As the host, you’re buried in a blur of coats, dishes, smiles, hugs, fetching, cooking, cleaning, directing, and reassuring. With smaller parties, you can group people according to how they get along as well.
Are your holiday traditions the same as when you were a child? Do they still work for you? If not, it might be time to update them. Make a list of the things you do. Ask your family/friends what they like doing. Circle the ones you’d like to keep or update to suit your life now. Make a new list to do this year. Enjoy the time you now have for new adventures. Continue to cherish old traditions that are now done in more convenient ways.
I’m not sure why the tradition of terrible, stressful, holiday meals has formed, but we have a choice to try something new and happier. Parents of young and teenage children, keep the magic and adventure alive. There are many non-material gifts they can choose from each year. They can give gifts of generosity to others. Doing fun things together and creating lasting, meaningful memories is a wonderful gift. Parents of grown children, give your children freedom to live their lives and see how your holiday parties, relationships, and lives improve. It’s their turn and their life. You gave them life, so keep giving it to them. Let them know you love them always, and that you accept them, are proud of them, and are there for them. The lack of this may be the main reason for stress during holidays.
Timing and Travel
Avoid the other major stress of traffic, crowded airports, expensive travel, and layovers on Christmas Eve. Celebrate before the actual date. Snuggle in at home on the holiday. It was meant to be a time of grace, adoration, and sharing love no matter the religion, place, or kind of family/friends. Save some special traditions and pleasures for the actual holiday so you’re not maxed out by the time it arrives. Design your holiday and life to please you.
Many people have colds or are sick during the holidays. Relieve your suffering relatives of the stress of mandatory dinner ‘invitations’ and send them a care package that will allow them to rest knowing you’re supporting their recovery. Their smiles will reflect back to you. Call to ask how you can help specifically and then listen. Your support and friendship will be valued. You never really know what people are going through.
Truly knowing your friends/family can help them through tough times. It also helps them through stressful times as well. It’s good to know which times they are going through and why/if you haven’t seen them for a while. It’s good to ask and listen, rather than to assume. It’s good for you to know the difference between their being stressed from a hectic lifestyle/problems or truly very ill. You can help support them either way. The two things can become a cycle. It all comes back to love. Being kind to sick dear ones helps them heal. If unkind, it can greatly worsen/prolong their illness or add new challenges.
Grandparents, see what amazing ways you can bond with your family without TV, money, toys, or sugar. Let them know you. You have wisdom, love, and comical things to share that will be remembered and thought of often with love and smiles. Being a healthy role model is the best gift. A big part of this is loving, supporting, and respecting your children and their partners.
New family can be seen as a gift that gives forever. A patient manner is good and helpful. Questions rather than assumptions are healthy. See the old and new family as two countries foreign to one another. They are meeting for the first time. Would you like a war or a friend? Welcome and accept them. Introduce yourself slowly. Don’t overwhelm them with tons of questions. Offer a drink or to take their coat. Invite them to a game of cards or to sit in your most comfy chair. Ask them what kind of food they enjoy (Do this when not eating or serving them food, as this can be awkward if the answer is in contrast to what you’re serving. Think vegetarian, organic only, GF, etc.) Get to know their culture, stories, ideas, and way of life. Let them share what they wish and don’t press/interrogate. Share small, helpful parts of your life with them graciously over time. Lift any veil of judgement you wear, and remove it from your head and thoughts. Practice welcoming their world into your family in a peaceful embrace that can ripple out into the world, inspiring peaceful communication to all. Peace starts in our families of friends first.
Get to know them gradually. Maybe they’re an adopted child, a new grandparent, a new-to-you person/child, a parent/child in-law, girlfriend or boyfriend, or a new neighbor, co-worker, or friend. Acknowledge how daunting it can be to be the new person in a crowd of a family. There are lots of names, faces, facts, traditions, pets, characters, personal safety concerns, new language and way of speaking, and house layouts to process.
Always be polite, respectful, gentle yet firm, and mature when setting/keeping boundaries and clearly communicating needs for your family. The lack of good communication habits can cause sleepless nights, illness, relationship disagreements, and lasting communication issues if not addressed and resolved. It can be miserable for everyone, but it doesn’t have to be. Resistance of change from one selfish person can isolate all parties involved and cause tears/rips in relationships. You may not always see the tears in others right away, but they are instantly felt when they happen. It may take many tries to establish clear communication. Even a good marriage/bond can be greatly damaged by small, unresolved family issues that snowball and pressure over time. Change has to come from within a person, but you can communicate your needs clearly. Then it’s up to them to have healthy communication too.
If you can see people’s differences as interesting topics, and not as threats or judgements on your own choices that need defending, you can have good relationships. Humans relate things back to themselves and what they know. Sometimes we forget to listen quietly or ask questions instead of listing anything semi-relevant that relates to a topic and never allowing the other to answer. There are so many opportunities for strong bonds between people. Support, accept, and communicate with loving language and compassion.
Think of cleaning up bad communication habits like cleaning out an old closet. Sometimes it looks messier before the sorting and reorganizing. It’s better in the end than sweeping the dirt under the carpet and trying to ignore it. If you bar the closet door, you’re missing out on using that wonderful space every day. Your room is a mess from the lack of storage. If you ignore your issues with people who love you, you’re missing out on wonderful things happening. This makes everyone unhappy. Why not mend that now? It’s never too late to try new things.
Keep a healthy, humble perspective. Everyone is unique and that takes nothing away from you, for you are unique too. Everyone’s experience of the world is unique and valuable.
It’s Easy to Please Yourself if you Know Yourself
If celebrating alone, ensure you are surrounded with things you love. Do fun things. Plan a wonderful holiday for yourself. Try new things and delight in the surprise of enjoying them. Get cozy and thrill in cinematherapy of your favourites. What about your favourite movies, music, and activities do you like? What else could you do that is similar? What have you always wanted to try? Take yourself out on the perfect date. Romance yourself and laugh in knowing how happy you are being you. Have a safe, lovely holiday.
Everyone is Connected
If you seek connection, volunteering may be good for you. (Go through the proper channels to become a volunteer.) Anyone or any child with “get-itis” can benefit from helping others. Reading to someone who thinks they are all alone now in a home and may not remember everything as they used to could be healing and comforting for them and for you. Playing games with children in the hospital can brighten a difficult time for them and for their family who are suffering and scared. Donating money specifically for very comfortable hospital couches or specific holiday fun can be so powerful to those who receive these gifts. Serving food to those who are hungry is humbling and helpful for the community.
You never know who will be struggling today or tomorrow. There are always lots of people who need help. At some point in our lives, we all need help, maybe some more desperately than others, but we all feel it and see it. Empaths can feel the world all of the time. It is overwhelming how needed helpers are everywhere, from the person next to you, to the opposite side of the universe, and back within yourself.
We are all connected and can show respect and love for all every day. Kindness is contagious. Smiles fulfill the lack of love. Smile all day and you’ll fill your world with happiness. 🙂 Plant magic for yourself and others. Leave flower bulbs or seed packages in your neighbor’s mailbox or in a bundle at their door with a note saying “A garden is good for the soul!” There are endless amazing things you can do for others using little to no money. Use good manners and smile. That is enough.
Enjoy the Arts
Music, dancing, and storytelling are wonderful ways to celebrate. Any style and a mixture. Something for everyone. Silly, romantic, classic, restful, you name it and you can have it at your party this year.
A simple snack or side to any meal. Softens sweetly in a leftover egg scramble as well. A versatile recipe with endless flavor combination possibilities.
Non-GMO, organic, local, free range, grass-fed ingredients:
Use our perfect pie crust recipe. Roll out on a cookie sheet. Crimp up edges to make a slightly raised edge. Spread some olive oil in the center. Slice tomatoes thinly and layer on dough. Sprinkle over some minced garlic and drizzle a little more olive oil. Dot with 1 tbsp butter. Lightly salt and pepper. (Pink Himalayan Salt.) Grate over Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese. (We use a zester to make a fine, light layer.) Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 35-45 minutes or until golden brown. Slice and serve warm. (A pizza cutter works well.) Store in a glass container. Cut up and add to scrambled eggs for a delicious leftover dish.
New greeting cards, artwork, and prints will be added into our shop this holiday season and New Year. This one is about the lighting of the spirit, a lifting up. It was designed for anyone going through hard medical times. Never believe the ones who say “incurable.” It simply means they either are not listening, or they don’t know. Look within and ask your body, what do I need? Give that to yourself. Breathe, open, and think positive affirmations so they come true.
Coconut Ginger Fish
A sweet crunchy breading is just what the evening beckoned.
Non-GMO, organic, local, free range, grass-fed ingredients:
A Wild Caught White Fish, ask for the most sustainable at this moment.
In a large frying pan add a few tbsp olive oil, 2 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, a small pinch of pink Himalayan salt, freshly ground pepper, 1 tsp of Saigon cinnamon, 1/4 C cornmeal, and 1 tsp of ground ginger.
Heat on medium low for a few minutes. Stir and spread over 2 fillets of sustainable white fish on a large cookie sheet that have been drizzled with olive oil. Cook at 350 degrees until done and fish flakes easily with a fork. Ours took ~15 minutes. Serve hot with steamed veggies and salad. Store any leftovers in a glass dish with lid.
Babies and children love this dish too. (Check for individual food allergies first.) It’s a quick, simple, healthy meal for the whole family. For babies 6M+ give pieces without crunchy breading. It is easy to separate out some for baby as the breading is just on the top.
When you wish upon a star…you are thinking good thoughts for yourself. There are many stars, so I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you wished on them each night.