2011 has been a tough year by all accounts. With the devaluation of the dollar, we’re seeing prices for everyday necessities causing budgets to be stretched to a breaking point. We’ve been cutting corners and doing without essentials while trying to make the best of whatever situation we may find ourselves struggling with. It’s wearing on our psyches to have to constantly cope and anticipate further difficulties.
With 2012 just days away, it’s important to recognize what is in your power to change. Focus on what is most important personally; certainly your sanity should be at the top of the list, your family, health, and staying positive in an ever-changing world where the next explosive moment has the potential to sidetrack your very existence. What road are you traveling on?
You are capable and competent. You have the ability to choose to lead an intentional life, to make deliberate choices. What would that look like for you, to meet life head on and with a purpose in mind? To investigate, to carefully consider, to think through options and then, to move forward. What choices will make a difference for future generations or even just for tomorrow? Actually, I find it rather exciting to think that I have the power to exert a positive influence in the world, or even in my own, personal environment within my family.
When the world goes haywire, you’re going to need uniformity in your life— something familiar to keep you grounded. It’s going to be different for each one of us; starting the day out with your favorite coffee mug, or going through a comfortable routine, but for some, it can be as simple as a little bar of shampoo in the shower that greets you each morning—something that makes you feel good about yourself.
In the June 2010 issue of J.R.LIGGETT’S Soapbox, J.R. shared a memory… “A couple of years ago I received a letter from a little old lady in Wisconsin who said she didn’t have very much money and lived on a fixed income. She could not afford much beyond the daily necessities of life, but she said, “I buy your shampoo which for me is a luxury item. It is a small thing, but just for a moment I can feel that I am treating myself to something special, something I look forward to… one little moment just for myself.”
That creamy white bar of shampoo that sits on the shelf in my shower… that’s where my sanity starts every morning. It’s one of the constant, true, and safe things in my world that I look forward to as the sunlight streams through the darkness and I start another day here on earth. It’s my choice, a good choice.
Joy Richter 2011 ©copyright 2011 J.R.LIGGETT LTD
Just for a few moments, set the bills and problems aside, gaze into space and wallow in some nostalgic memories about some of your most memorable Christmas or Holiday events. Granted, they might not all be rosy, but surely you can drum up one or two. I’ve had some bumps and crashes in the road here and there– even one year muddling through the season with a tumble weed that bore all of four ornaments. But remember, good memories are good food for the soul…
Our family truly did travel “over the river and through the woods”… We would cross the Mississippi on our way to Grandmother’s house to spend part of the Holidays with relatives. We lived in St. Louis, Missouri, and Grandma lived just 70 miles northeast as the crow flies, in a farming community in Illinois. A day and an over-nighter at Grandma’s was one of the best parts of growing up. You know how those Grannies are– so loving and welcoming, full of hugs and affirming words, plenty of home-cooked food, filled cookie jars and feather beds you could get lost in. (I did have an ‘indifferent Granny’, but I won’t go there–that would burst the bubble.) Memories of my Good Granny are safely tucked away in a special little place in my heart.
My father had an interest in photography, and in the above shot, my mom and were instructed to pose in front of Grandma’s Christmas ‘tree’. An old-fashioned German feather tree; I thought it was the sorriest-looking specimen I had ever seen. Worthy of lots of snickering amongst my three older brothers and I– but not too much ridicule, because most likely, there was a present for us at the base of that ‘thing’. Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree would beat this puppy hands down if it were in a contest for the most beautiful tree. So there we are, Mom pointing out the ‘star’ and me dutifully gazing at some sticks and feathers bravely passing itself off as a ‘tree’.
It was at Grandma’s little country church one Christmas, that I learned a sobering lesson. Seven years of age, decked out in a fancy dress, pretty coat, and patent leather shoes– an object of curiosity for the other children, not only because of being a visitor, but also because of my clothing. Not that we were anywhere near being ‘well-off’, but the other children were of very modest means–a polite way of saying ‘poor’. As young as I was, I could perceive the evidence of the daily struggles on the faces of their parents. Poor, but such good people! Honest, loving, friendly people .
The children could hardly contain their excitement… special Christmas surprise packages awaited them… At the end of the service, my two Uncles came to the front of the congregation, carrying boxes overflowing with individual paper sacks filled with goodies. As they handed a bag to each child–and my brothers and I received ours also– I opened mine and was completely dumbfounded–literally stunned into silence! Along with a small amount of multi-colored, hard, ‘ribbon candy’, was an apple and an orange… that was it. That’s it? The other children were filled with joy, smiles on their faces, proudly showing their ‘gifts’ to their parents. I couldn’t believe it! They were happy with this measly amount of hard candy and an apple and orange? This wasn’t anything to get excited about! I could have candy any day I wanted, and apples and oranges were nothing to get all worked up over by any stretch of my little, self-centered imagination.
But then, within seconds, and with as much comprehension as my age allowed, I realized, these gifts were huge for these children. I had plenty to eat, some pretty dresses, and most likely, possessed more toys than a family of these children put together had. I immediately felt humbled and ashamed, and thankfully, I had enough sense and training in manners to muster up some appreciation and say ‘Thank you” to my Uncles. In a moment, I understood how ungrateful I was for what I did have.
It’s an event in my life that made such an impression, I am still humbled when I recall that day. Granted, our family was not rich by any means, if anything, I was the poor one! I couldn’t even comprehend how much I had been given in life, let alone appreciate it. Those special little children… they were the rich ones. They had learned the joy of being thankful for little things–for anything!
Life is rough, especially this past year with folks losing jobs, and sometimes their home, but is there something you could be thankful for this season? Is there something or someone worthy of celebration? A milestone in your life, a success, a new family member, or simply that you had a roof over your head, food on the table, and good health. When life gets tough, it helps to focus on the small things, which in reality, might actually be the big things. Trials put our lives and wants vs needs into focus. The important stuff rises to the top, and the unnecessary and frivolous fall by the wayside. We come to see and appreciate what we have been given. It’s time to come together with family and friends to celebrate the gifts that have come your way this year…. they are there, you know.
And a heartfelt hope for a healthy, safe, and meaningful season to all…
Joy Richter 2011 ©copyright 2011 J.R.LIGGETT LTD
…is a sky-high stack of J.R.LIGGETT’S Shampoo Bars. Who could ask for more?
And even though I’d like a huge stack of J.R.’s shampoo bars, it is, in essence, less. Less products, less waste, less plastic containers to clutter your bath, (and ultimately end up in landfills), and less stress when it comes to traveling. No spilling, leaking, or extra weight. Tuck the Mini Traveler or A Natural Traveler into your carry-on and breeeeeze right through the lines. Just one product takes care of your hair, body, shaving, and a quick wash of a lightweight garment. Multi-tasking extraordinaire!
Whether you’re still shopping for gifts or haven’t even begun, the elves at J.R.LIGGETT’S are ready for your order. Of course, I’m partial, and most likely “preaching to the choir”, but I suggest to make life easy, place your order now for a stack of J.R.’s Shampoo Bars for family, friends, for yourself. You simply cannot go wrong. There will be no issues such as wrong size, color or style. Useful and perfect for all ages; grab the handy bar shelf that J.R. designed to keep your bar dry in-between use (comes with an ‘Original’ shampoo bar). Great for air travelers, stick-around-homers, military personnel, over the road truckers, sailors, campers, vacationers, business travelers, stocking stuffers, gift baskets, party gifts… it’s the most uncomplicated and useful, yet unique and thoughtful gift to give. If you care enough to share what you love for yourself, that is more than enough to give.
I’m not aware of anyone that is asking for more complications in their life. When I lived out on the Richter Ranch and would take an early morning walk to a nearby pond and just pause and listen to the life-giving sounds of the world waking up, my thoughts often turned to Henry David Thoreau’s “On Walden Pond”. As H.D. had sat in his little cabin at the edge of Walden Pond, he wasn’t drawing up plans for a McMansion, adding more activities to his schedule, nor puzzling over shampoo choices. He was into simplifying life, respecting nature, and being content with the basics. Without a doubt, I’m sure Mr. Thoreau was an advocate of ‘less is more’… and if J.R.LIGGETT’S Shampoo Bar would have been available in Thoreau’s day, I think I could safely say that he would have found a bit of room in his 10′ X 15’ cabin to stash a few bars… or a sky-high stack.
It’s Green Monday… do the environmentally sound and right thing… place an order for Liggett’s 100% natural, no SLS, bio-degradable, earth friendly, made in the U.S.A. products. This is the economy thinking of less is more. Elves are standing by.
Joy Richter 2011 ©copyright 2011 J.R.LIGGETT LTD
Minor Myers Jr.
I’ve been scanning some blogs and noticing quite a bit of shall I say, disdain, displeasure, and distaste for the season? A prevalent attitude of “Bah-humbug!” ? This aversion to Christmas and the holidays in general seems to sprout from the stress of family gatherings, time constraints, greediness, over-shopping and over-spending, combined with a worse than turtle-ish economy, to downright poverty and fear of how to survive and keep a roof over your head. I understand. I can relate, I feel your pain. It’s difficult to be merry when budgets are squeaky-tight and you truly desire to give.
If you could give the best gift in the world, what would it look like? How much would it cost? For many of us in today’s society, what we value the most is time–our time. We need more of it, or maybe we need less of what doesn’t matter–stuff, things, pretty nothings that are soon forgotten, or perhaps not even used–or appreciated! Could you give a gift to a friend, family member, or neighbor, that had lasting value, yet you didn’t have to spend a penny? The gift of your time, to another, is the most precious gift. If you are stressed to the max, fresh out of dough, and can barely contain your grief upon hearing canned holiday Muzak, then lay the credit card down, put your hands in the air, and step away from the store counter. Prepare to make this one of the most memorable seasons you have ever had.
I’m talking giving here, not buying. What a concept! And not just for now, not just for December, but giving year-round. No special occasion, nothing forced, nothing expected, nor begrudged. Giving, plain and simple. I want to share with you some of the ways I’ve given over the years, and I share these examples not in pride, but as simple ways to lift one’s spirits, help in time of need, or just out of sheer love and surprise. I love flowers. Between my husband and I, we have more flowers each summer than we know what to do with. On many occasions, while visiting with someone, they have shared a burden or sadness with me. I’ve come home, grabbed the scissors, an empty glass jar, and cut and arranged a bouquet. A quick stop at their home, a bit of caring extended, a heart is warmed. Once I grabbed a bouquet, and just stopped in the local nursing home with no special recipient in mind. I walked the hall, open-minded as for someone to give the flowers to. I noticed a woman who reminded me of my mother. I said to her, “Do you like flowers?” A huge smile appeared, her face lit up and she said, “I love flowers… look!” She motioned to a bookcase which was filled with bouquets of plastic flowers… Surely, this was the person who needed some fresh flowers. My husband loves to garden, and every summer we invariably have more vegetables than we can use. For the past five years, we’ve taken our over-abundance to the local senior center and assisted living center. The veggies are either cooked and served, or the seniors are free to choose what they need and take them home. A few years ago, a neighbor lady was without the use of her car during the winter. On a couple of occasions, I took her to the bank, market, and post office. Every winter, after using the snow blower on our sidewalks, my husband continues across the street and clears an older woman’s sidewalk. In our area, every summer a local farmer opens his Sweet Corn fields to anyone who desires to come and pick their own Sweet Corn–for free.
Needs waiting to be met are as numerous as there are people in the world. Could you be that person who can meet a need? I’ve just heard of Richard St. Denis, a CNN Hero and ‘Community Crusader’ who having lost the use of his legs in a skiing accident, sends refurbished wheelchairs to people with disablilities in rural Mexico. People who previously had to pull themselves around in the dirt, are now able to have mobility, and a sense of independence and pride. The grateful smiles on their faces are priceless.
Change a life, change the world. The examples I share are just a snippet of what is being done in this world to make it a better place. If you can step away from yourself, and open your eyes, heart, and mind to how you could share your abundance, talents, and… time. Remember the starfish story? Starfish on the shore, too numerous to count, all needing to be returned to the ocean to survive? Throw one back, but there are so many left… Do what you can, with what you have to make a difference to one–or more! A gift is not a gift until it is given away… share your time–your life, and make this a season you and many others will never forget. Do good, and reap the benefits… pay it forward… without spending a cent.
Joy Richter 2011 ©copyright 2011 J.R.LIGGETT LTD