productivity tips, productivity tips for creatives, are creatives easily distracted, are creative people adhd,

I relate to this quote: “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it? That there are so many worthwhile things in the world that it’s challenging to experience everything that we want to?

john burroughs, john burrows quote, "i still find each day too short for all the thoughts i want to think"

On any given day, I have a list on my phone of around 20 things that I want to do. As a blogger/writer/avid Instagrammer, I’m always looking for ideas for my posts. I try to keep my thoughts organized on my phone or in Word docs, but as a creative person, I tend to find inspiration all around me (on good days at least). This means that my ideas don’t always come when I’m ready (or wanting) to write them down. Even when I’m trying to work off of to-do lists I’ve created, so many other ideas keep jumping into my head, fighting for my attention. I want to do everything at once. Since that’s impossible, sometimes I feel overwhelmed by all of my ideas, which is frustrating.

Psychology was my support field (similar to a minor) in college. One of the things we learned about was the “fight-or-flight,” response, which is one of the body’s typical reactions to stress. Meaning that when someone encounters a stressful situation or perceived threat, they either decide to stay where they are and “fight” through whatever is happening, or they take themselves out of the situation and escape. Most of the time when people talk about fight or flight, they’re talking about it in terms of a more serious situation, like when someone is criticizing you or you’re being mugged. But I think that sometimes, I experience a little bit of fight-or-flight when I try to accomplish something important to me, such as a blog post. I sit down, ready to knock it out and then all of these competing thoughts pop into my head. “Maybe I should write about that other thing instead?” “Should I get a cup of coffee before I get started?” “What was that idea I had when I was walking around Target the other day?” “I should create a blog schedule for next week before writing.” I get overwhelmed by all of these thoughts and start feeling stressed. On good days, I push through the overwhelming feelings and get stuff done. On bad days, I get too distracted and take a break for the day.

Is anyone else like this? I would bet that quite a few other creatives are.

Here’s the thing: I believe in my ideas. I want to write and create and follow my passions. I don’t want to not do the things I care about because I was too distracted. I want to start really harnessing my creativity and learn how I can be more productive. This is something that has really been on my mind lately, so I’ve been trying a few different productivity techniques to see if they help. Thankfully, I’ve had some success with this and have found myself feeling more focused and being able to get into “work mode” easier.

Here are a few productivity tips that work for me:

1. Eat regularly

I’m much more prone to be distracted when I’m hungry. Sometimes part of why I have trouble getting focused is because I didn’t eat enough. There’s nothing wrong with having a little protein to help boost your energy levels! Your body needs fuel to do all the things you want to do.

2. Find background noise that works for you

For me, I’m more likely to be distracted by my own thoughts if I’m in a totally quiet room. But at the same time, I can’t really focus on writing (or other similar things) if I listen to music with lyrics-I get too emotionally invested in what’s going on in the song and can’t concentrate, haha. The happy medium for me is either instrumental music (like movie scores or piano) or even rain sounds. As I type, I’m actually listening to the sounds of a thunderstorm thanks to Amazon Prime (even though it’s bright and sunny out my window).

3. Set time limits

I’ve started giving myself set amounts of time to get things done. I’ll say to myself, “ok, you have until 4:30 to finish this and then you need to start working on something else.” I think this works for me because I do better when I can switch gears after a while and give myself a break from doing the same thing for hours and hours. I like to stagger the types of things I’m doing when I can so that I use different parts of my brain. I might go from writing, to folding the laundry, back to writing, and then to cooking dinner. Of course, sometimes you just get in the zone and want to keep working on whatever you’re doing, which is great. I try to not interrupt myself when I’m on a roll. But when I’m feeling antsy, setting time limits can help me get things done.

4. Make your to-do list at night

I’ve found that when I write my to-do list for the next day at night before I go to bed, I wake up the next morning with purpose. That’s a really good feeling. When I wake up with purpose, I’m more excited to get out of bed and start the day. If you write your to-do list at 2:00 in the afternoon, you’ve already lost a good chunk of the day that could have been spent being more focused. Also, in order to keep yourself from the overwhelming feeling of not knowing where to start, write your list in order of priority.

5. Be kind to yourself

I realize that I put an insane amount of pressure on myself to accomplish a lot during the day. I’m my own worst critic and beat myself up when I don’t get something done that I wanted to do. Lately, I’m trying to cut myself a little more slack. We’re all human and sometimes we have off days. Sometimes we can’t get focused no matter how hard we try. Sometimes we need a good cry, those extra hours of sleep, or that night of binge watching a show on Netflix. Take a deep breath. It’s okay. You might have had an off-day today, but you can try again tomorrow. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself as well as to you guys!

Learning how to be more productive is a work in progress for me. Do you have any productivity tips? Is there an app or planner that you swear by? I’m all ears, so please share your thoughts with me!

Side note: today I’m linking up with the Making our Life Matter blog for the Motivation Monday linkup. You can check out the linkup here.

Thanks for reading!

Today, I’m joining in on some fun Friday linkups, mainly for two reasons. 1: I always have a bunch of different topics for blog posts going through my head and this format lets me talk about multiple things in one blog post. 2: It lets me recap my week a little and I think that’ll be fun to look back on someday. So, let’s get right to it! These are a few things that have been on my mind this week:

1. Weekend trip to Lubbock

Last weekend we met up with my parents and brother in Lubbock, TX. We hadn’t seen my brother since January and my parents since February, so it was well worth the 8 hour drive from Colorado Springs! My parents drove up from Austin to meet us in Lubbock. It was a weekend filled with Tex-Mex, Hawaiian BBQ, movies, games, beautiful spring weather (I wore flip flops for the first time this year!), and west Texas sunsets. Side note: I fell in love with this rosebush outside of Chuy’s, one of my favorite Tex-Mex places. One of my friends told me that it’s called an “Aloha” rose bush. I really want one for my yard now! chuys flowers

 

2. This vintage phone

I love vintage stuff (especially from the 50’s and 60’s), so this cute rotary phone on Etsy caught my eye. I love the color. I’m in the process of decorating my new desk in John and I’s home office, so I’ve been imagining how cute this would look there. Fun fact: in high school, I was dying to have my own phone in my room, so I begged my mom to let me have her old rotary telephone. It looked just like this one, except it was tan. Whenever I called one of my friends, I had to use the rotary dial to make a call. Talk about old school! The novelty of it was fun and my friends always wanted to try it out when they came over. I’m sure any people who lived in the 30’s-70’s would be laughing at the thought of that. It makes no sense at all for me to get one, especially since we don’t even have a landline at our house. BUT I still think it would look cute on my desk and I might keep my eyes peeled for one similar to this. rotary phone, vintage blog, retro blog, turquoise rotary phone,

 

3. Good news from the doctor

During my senior year of college (2012-2013), I discovered a cyst on my scalp. Anytime you find a random bump on your body that’s not supposed to be there, it’s scary. After worrying about it for years, last summer I mentioned it to a family practice PA during a physical. She didn’t think it was anything but said to keep a watch on it in case it grew bigger or became painful, etc. Over the past year, I’ve noticed that it’s grown a little bigger. Three weeks ago, I decided to make an appointment with a dermatologist so that I could have a specialist look at it. I had my appointment two weeks ago and to be honest, I was nervous. The main thing I wanted to find out was if they needed to surgically remove it and then do a biopsy.

I was relieved to find out that the dermatologist didn’t think it needed to be removed. She said that cysts like the one I have are generally benign and that I wouldn’t need surgery unless it changed more significantly. So I’ll definitely still be keeping a watch on it, but let me tell you, I was so relieved. If you ever find anything unusual like that on your body, my advice is to go to the doctor immediately and get it checked out. If it’s nothing, then you have peace of mind (which is worth a lot!) and if it’s something more serious, then you were able to catch it early. I’m just so thankful that at the moment, it’s fine. I’m also thankful for the friends and family who prayed for me about the appointment. I just can’t stop thinking about how thankful I am.

4. Joanna Gaines’ testimony

I’ve been watching a lot of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper” lately. I was first interested in it because it’s based in Waco, Texas (which is just an hour and a half away from my hometown of Austin) but after watching it more, I’ve come to admire the Gaines’ family dynamic. Something that stands out to me about the show is the mutual respect that Chip & Joanna have for each other-I think it’s great that their kids (along with TV viewers) are seeing that. Like Joanna says in this video, God told her that she would be given a platform someday & it makes me happy to see the positive things that she’s doing with it. I came across her testimony video the other day and there’s just so much truth in it, so I wanted to share.

5. My cat doing some meditating

The other day I brought out my pillow and blanket so that I could sit on the floor with my laptop and still be comfortable. We have a perfectly good couch, but I’m one of those people that likes to sit on the floor sometimes. Maybe that’s weird? I don’t know, I just like to switch it up occasionally! Anyways, once I got up from my spot, Oliver decided that it looked pretty comfortable too. It looked like he was meditating, so of course I had to take this picture. So, here’s a picture of my cat in relaxation mode. meditating oliver

 

For this post today, I’m linking up with:

Five on Friday with A. Liz Adventures

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Oh Hey, Friday with September Farm

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Friday Favorites with Meet at the Barre…and last but not least:

Little Friday with The Grits Blog.

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Take a moment and go check out the other bloggers who have also shared their posts on these linkups! Linkups like this are a great way to meet new blogging friends. :)

Well, that’s all for today. Thank you for reading and I hope you have a happy weekend! If you’re new here, I hope you’ll say hi and introduce yourself!

 

 

It’s time for The Golden Vlog again! I participated for the first time last month and had so much fun doing it that I’ve decided to make it a monthly thing now.

In this video, I’m answering questions about what I’m currently loving, working towards, eating, feeling, enjoying, watching, writing, following, listening to, trying, wearing, pinning, traveling to, reading, & celebrating.

I like these prompts because I was able to talk about both fun and more serious stuff going on in my life. Oh and I have to mention that my cat makes a rare appearance in this video. :)

If you’d like to participate in The Golden Vlog, click here to go to the link up (and also check out my friend Amanda’s blog, Amanda Moments!).

Thanks for watching/reading! :)

Last Saturday, I went to the funeral for my husband’s friend, Dan, who sadly passed away last week at only 25 years old. Dan and John went to the same small, private, Christian school during middle and early high school. I never had the chance to meet Dan, but John and a lot of our friends were close with him.

I’ve been to quite a few funerals, but until Saturday, I had never been to one for someone my own age. Many friends from John’s high school were there and “Time of Your Life,” by Green Day was playing in the background. Dan’s funeral had a very specific kind of sadness about it because he passed away so young.

After the eulogy, they left a microphone open at the front so that anyone who wanted to say something about Dan could say it publically. People spoke of someone who loved to make other people laugh and who was kind and friendly to everyone he met. Many of his friends went up to speak and what they said reminded me of a few important things, so I wanted to share some of my thoughts:

1.) More people care about you than you probably realize

I remember one of the friends who went up to speak said something about how Dan might have been surprised at the amount of people who were there. There were so many people at the funeral that they had to bring in extra benches because all of the pews were full. Sometimes we might become blinded to the amount of people who care about us, especially if we’re going through a tough time. But just know that there are people who care about you (even if you can’t always see it) and not only that, but you will meet awesome people in the future too.

2.) Take the time to talk to people you don’t know

Dan was known as being someone who was friendly to everyone. My husband started going to the private school in 6th grade. When John first started, he didn’t know anyone there. Dan was one of John’s first friends at the school and definitely made John’s transition to a new environment easier.

Many of Dan’s other friends had similar stories. One friend said that when he was a kid, his parents used to drop him off at the skate park. He said that he was really shy and unconfident about talking to people, but that Dan just walked up to him there one day and befriended him. He said that Dan’s friendliness helped him to become more confident, which is something that impacted his life in a major way.

So the next time that you’re at some event and you see someone standing alone while everyone else is talking, go up and say something to them. You never know what kind of positive impact it could have on their life. I’ve always tried to go up and talk to the people who looked like they didn’t know anyone or weren’t being included. Sometimes, I’ve been nervous before I’ve gone up to someone. I’ve thought to myself, “What if they’re rude to me or don’t want to talk to anyone? What if it’s awkward?” The truth is, there have been times when I’ve gone out of my way to talk to someone and they’ve been rude to me. But, the vast majority of the time, people are happy to have someone be friendly to them, so I try to push past that fear because I think the potential gain is worth the risk.

People love to feel included and a little bit of friendliness can go a long way. You may think that your interactions with others aren’t that big of a deal, but you have the power to truly make a difference in someone’s life.

3.) Relationships are what matter

When friends went up and spoke about Dan, they talked about what their relationship with him was like. They also talked about the fact that he was a Christian who had a relationship with God. As Christians, those really are the most important things. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the superficial things of the world, but we have to remember what really matters in life: relationships.

Those are the things that I was thinking about as I left the funeral, so I wanted to share. Today, I’m grateful for the people I have in my life and the people who have been my friends over the years.

[I’m linking this post up with the Grateful Heart Monday Linkup on the Ember Grey Blog.]

 

A few weeks ago, we spent our Saturday evening at the Festival of Lights Parade in downtown Colorado Springs. This was awesome for multiple reasons. One, I LOVE Christmas stuff and a Christmas parade is about as over-the-top as you can get! Two, I’m in love with downtown Colorado Springs and downtowns in general, especially at Christmastime. There’s a special Christmas spirit in cities during the holidays and it’s wonderful.

We walked around downtown for a while before the parade started and as we walked, light snow began to fall. Seriously, could it have gotten any more Christmassy? It made my heart so happy.

This was the beautiful Christmas tree in the Anters Hotel.

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 John and I right as the snow started to fall.

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I made John be my #InstagramHusband for a few minutes before we continued walking. :P

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The cool lights on the Antlers Hotel.

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Looking down Tejon Street downtown.

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We came across this cool hot air balloon in the middle of the street.

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This little coffee stand in Acacia Park was so cute. It was next to the outdoor ice skating rink (which we skated at last year-another fun thing to do in Colorado Springs at Christmastime).

20151205_163529As many of you probably know, there was a horrible shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic a few weeks ago here in Colorado Springs. At the beginning of the parade, they had a banner with the names of the three victims who were killed in the shooting. It was very touching and fitting for a community that was still shocked from the sadness of what took place.

Colorado Springs has such a great community. Back in the summer of my junior year of college, I lived here in Colorado Springs to do an internship. During that summer, the Waldo Canyon Fire broke out. In the aftermath of such a devastating fire, I was touched to see the amount of people who donated supplies to people who lost their homes. We would drive around town and see cars with “Thank You Firefighters” written on the windows. It really made an impact on me. In the parade this year, I saw many floats with signs thanking firefighters and police officers. It’s just great to see how appreciative people are.

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There were two HUSKY themed groups walking in the parade. One of them was the National Mill Dog Rescue and the other was a group called the “Husky and Malamute Mingle” or something like that. They actually had real, live HUSKIES walking around in the parade. Like, there were 20 huskies all in the same place. I almost exploded from happiness. John started filming my reaction because he knew that I was going to freak out.

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The Chik-Fil-A float cracked me up. It was a bunch of people dressed up in cow costumes dancing around to songs like The Chicken Dance. It was ridiculous and awesome.

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And of course, what self-respecting Christmas parade would be complete without Santa at the end?

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Once the sun went down and the parade started, it got really cold, mainly because we were standing in the same place for over an hour! But we had so much fun and it was totally worth it! I think going to the parade is going to become a yearly tradition for us now.

One of the main reasons why I enjoyed the parade so much is because it was a huge, joyous celebration of Christmas. Things are heavy in our country and in the world right now. That’s why I think it’s wonderful and healthy to take a moment to go to something like this-where the mood is festive and positive. I’m so thankful that events like the parade exist because it’s important to celebrate life as much as we possibly can.

Today, I’m linking up with the Ember Grey Blog for Grateful Heart Monday. Check out the other posts in the linkup here!

I’m so excited to be sharing something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while-The Golden Vlog Linkup! I love blogging but I also really enjoy vlogging as a medium, so this linkup is a great way to gain some vlogging experience and get to know fellow bloggers in a different way.

The questions for the month of December were all about the holidays, which made me really happy because Christmas is my favorite time of year. Here are the questions that I answer in the video:

-What did you do for thanksgiving this year?
-What are your plans for Christmas?
-What is your favorite holiday treat or meal?
-What is on your wish list this year?
-What’s the best gift you have ever received?
-Do you put up a Christmas tree or decorate? Do you wait till after thanksgiving or do it before?
-What’s your favorite Christmas song?
-Must see Christmas movies? 
-What are some favorite traditions that you and your family have? 
-Best christmas memory ever?
(Side note: your volume will probably need to be turned up to be able to hear the audio from 4:27 to 9:43. I filmed this using two different devices and they picked up the audio at different volume levels.)
So without further ado, here’s the video!
I had a ton of fun filming this and definitely plan on participating in The Golden Vlog again! If you’re interested in joining us, visit my friend Faith at Life With Mrs. G and the Artist!
Thanks for reading (and watching)!

smell of possibility, i love the smell of possibility in the morning, quotes about mornings,

Waking up is hard. I love Zooey Deschanel’s quote on the topic: “In an ideal world no one would talk before 10 am. People would just hug, because waking up is really hard.” I feel that way before I’ve actually gotten up and I’m just laying in bed scrolling through my newsfeed on my phone. But once I’ve sufficiently bribed myself to get out of bed with some iced chai tea (I’m one of the crazy people who still drinks iced drinks in the winter), I normally find myself actually enjoying the morning.

Morning is a pretty amazing time when you think about it. Each morning that we wake up, God is blessing us with a brand new day of life to live as we choose. And even if yesterday you were quick-tempered with your family or you didn’t get everything accomplished that you wanted to, today you have a fresh, new opportunity to do better. Learn from the things that happened in the past and be mindful of that wisdom going forward into the new day.

If you start each morning with the right perspective, you can fully take advantage of all that the day has to offer. I’m so grateful that His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and for the possibilities of a new day!

For this post, I’m linking up with the Ember Grey Blog for the Grateful Heart Monday Linkup.

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Thanks for reading! :)

counting your blessings

One of my favorite old Christmas movies is White Christmas. It’s a classic musical from 1954 and if you haven’t seen it, you really should. My mom showed it to me for the first time when I was little and we watched it together at Christmas quite a few times during my childhood.

As I was trying to think of what to write for a Thanksgiving post, a specific song from White Christmas came to my mind. It’s called Count Your Blessings (Instead of Sheep). In case you’re not familiar with the song, it goes like this:

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep

I count my blessings instead of sheep

And I fall asleep counting my blessings

When my bankroll is getting small

I think of when I had none at all

And I fall asleep counting my blessings

Here’s the song in a clip from the movie:

I wish they still made movies like that. Both of their voices are classically beautiful and I love the simple message of the song. I remember as a little girl thinking that Rosemary Clooney was so pretty and I always wanted a red robe like hers, haha.

This song has made an impact on me through the years because I’m a worrier. I always have been. Even as a kid, I remember pacing around my room at night because I was worried about something. In all honestly, I have trouble falling asleep without browsing the internet on my phone before bed, mainly because without the distraction I tend to start worrying. Every once in a while through the years, this song has come to my mind as I’m laying in bed trying to quiet my mind down. And every time it does, I always make a point to start making a mental list of my blessings. I might not always fall asleep immediately after doing it, but it normally makes whatever I was stressed about seem a little better. Most likely, our struggles won’t be ended by counting our blessings, but practicing gratitude does make them easier to handle.

Certain melodies have a way of tugging at my heartstrings and this one brought me back to when I was a little girl watching this movie. I know, I know, so cheesy! But now we’re officially in the Christmas season, so it’s okay to be a little cheesy every now and then, am I right?!

I’m happy that I was exposed to old movies like this growing up. They taught me a lot of valuable life lessons and I definitely plan on showing classic movies to my own future kids someday.

Today, I’m linking up with the Ember Grey blog for the Grateful Heart Monday Linkup! This linkup is all about starting the week off with a grateful heart, so I hope that this post helps to remind you to take the time to be grateful for what you have (and not just on Thanksgiving!).

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As always, thanks for reading!

Sidenote: night sky background image courtesy of Just2shutter at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

operation christmas child, how to pack an operation christmas child box, can you use a regular shoebox for operation christmas child, operation christmas child ideas, what to put into an operation christmas child box, what age range has the biggest need for operation christmas child,

I often find myself wondering what I can do to help people less fortunate than I am. I’m blessed with so many things: I live in the U.S., have clean water to drink, a roof over my head, and a pantry full of food, just to name a few. For a long time, I’ve felt a strong urge to find ways to use the situation that I’ve been blessed with to help others. One of my favorite ways to do that is through Operation Christmas Child, which you may have heard of before. If you’re looking for a way to help people this holiday season, you should think about creating a box for Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child is a project where you put small gifts into a shoebox and take the box to a drop-off location. The boxes are then picked up and sent to underprivileged kids all around the world as Christmas presents. In addition to receiving the boxes, each child gets their own book of Bible stories that’s been translated into their own language. They also have the opportunity to enroll in a 12 lesson Bible class where they can learn more about the Christian faith. I read on the Operation Christmas Child website that for many of the kids, these boxes are the first gift that they’ve ever received. It’s a pretty cool opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life.

If you’re interested in creating a box, there’s still time! The Operation Christmas Child Website is a really great resource for info about putting together a box. Definitely check it out if you’d like to learn more about how to pack a box, guidelines for what is allowed in the boxes, FAQs, etc. National Collection Week is from Monday, November 16th to Monday, November 23rd, 2015. To find a drop-off location in your area, click here and put in your zip code.

I put together my box on Friday and dropped it off at our church this morning. I decided to pack my box for a girl age 10-14. At first, I thought I wanted to put together a box for a younger girl (age 5-9). My thinking was that it would be easier to find gifts for a little kid as opposed to a middle school aged kid. But then I had the thought that there may be more of a need for boxes for the 10-14 age group (the oldest one) because it seems to be harder to figure out what to get a preteen/young teenager. So I decided to go with the 10-14 age range instead.

I bought everything that I put in the box at Target and ended up spending around $20 on it. Oh and let me remind you if you haven’t been there lately: Target is even more magical at Christmastime. I honestly can’t even handle it. Anyway, tangent over. I wanted to share what I put in my box in hopes that it will give you some ideas if you put together a box of your own! So, here’s what I packed in mine:

A journal (from the $1 section) and a package of mini gel pens (bring back 90’s memories, anyone?!?).

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A mini-Bible. I have to give credit to John for this one. He remembered that he had this from a day that a group passed them out at ACU after chapel. Most of it is written in English, so the girl who gets the box may not be able to read it, but on the off chance that she can, we decided to put it in.

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Christmas-flavored Chap Stick. Because what pre-teen/young teenage girl doesn’t feel more sophisticated when she’s wearing Chap Stick!? (Note: lipgloss cannot be packed in the boxes because it’s a liquid, but lip balm such as Chap Stick is okay.)

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A stuffed animal. I questioned whether I should put this in because the age range goes up to 14. But I decided to because stuffed animals are cute and they can be comforting. I mean, I still love stuffed animals! So on the chance that they might find it comforting or cute, I decided to put it in.

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Bracelets. I thought the beads on these were cute (the beads on the white one are turtles and the beads on the pink are elephants). They were also just $1 each so they were an easy thing to add.

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Life Savers and Tootsie Rolls. I have fond memories of getting both the Life Savers Storybook and the Tootsie Roll Bank in my stocking as a kid, so I thought these would be fun to put in. The nice thing about the Life Savers is that there’s a lot of them in the book and they’ll probably last quite a while. Both of these candies are on the approved candy list. Make sure you check out the list here before you buy any candy for the boxes (certain types are not allowed through customs in some places).

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A toothbrush (speaking of candy). I read somewhere the other day that a toothbrush is one of the most helpful things you can put in the box because some children who live in orphanages don’t have their own and have to share one with the other kids. :(

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Socks. As weird as it might sound, socks may be a luxury to some of these kids. These were $1 per pair in the dollar section.

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A few other ideas I had for things you could put in a box are: washcloths, a light flannel blanket (if you folded it really well), a scarf, headbands, hairclips, a comb, and a compact mirror.

I’ve heard that Operation Christmas Child has translators available, so you can include a personal message to the child and someone can translate it for them. I love that idea, so I wrote a handwritten note and put it in the box.

Before I dropped the box off, I spent some time looking at the things that I had bought. I shed a few tears when I thought about how normal and every day these items are to me but how much they could mean to a child who lives in a third world country. I thought about how the very same stuffed animal that I bought would be held by a child in need. That’s one of the reasons why I love Operation Christmas Child so much. It’s such a personal, tangible way of giving to others.

Today I’m joining one of my favorite link-ups, which is Grateful Heart Monday. Participating in Operation Christmas Child makes me so grateful for the fact that there are thousands of people all over the world who want to help children in need have a gift for Christmas. Especially after spending the weekend hearing about the horrible attacks in Paris and many other tragic things going on around the world, it warms my heart to think about the fact that this ministry exists. I’ll close with one of my favorite quotes: “Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” -Desmond Tutu

Thanks for reading! You can link up with Ember Grey from the Grateful Heart Monday Linkup here!

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Something you may not know about me is that I love psychological horror movies. That’s one of the reasons why I was incredibly excited to visit The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. Stephen King used The Stanley Hotel as the inspiration for his horror novel The Shining, which was later turned into the famous 1980 Stanley Kubrick film of the same name. Whether you’re a fan of The Shining or not, The Stanley Hotel is a fascinating place to visit with an incredibly interesting history.

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We took The Stanley Tour, which is their daytime 90 minute tour. What I liked about doing a tour is that it allowed us access into certain parts of the hotel that we wouldn’t ordinarily be able to see. More on that later.

The Stanley Hotel fully embraces their connection to The Shining and their reputation for being haunted. The office where you buy your tour tickets is filled with nods to the book and movie.

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I watched The Shining for the first time about a year ago and I’m glad that I did because having knowledge of the plot made being at the hotel that much more interesting. If you’re planning on touring The Stanley and you’ve never seen The Shining, I definitely recommend watching it before you visit. Fun fact: if you stay at The Stanley, you can watch The Shining on channel 42 in your room, where it runs on a continuous loop!

While we waited for our tour to begin, we ate lunch on the patio of the Cascades Restaurant, the main restaurant at The Stanley. Since we were there in late September, the weather was still nice enough to eat outside. The food was good and I loved the atmosphere of sitting out on the covered patio. If you want a snack but don’t want to eat at a sit-down restaurant, they also have a grab-and-go café where you can buy things like pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, and coffee.

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 After lunch, it was time for our tour to begin. It started off with an overview of the history of the hotel. The Stanley Hotel opened in 1909 and was built by Freelan Oscar (F.O.) Stanley, a self-made man and inventor of the Stanley Steamer car, among many other things. F.O. and his wife, Flora, lived in Massachusetts, but came to Colorado in 1903 in hopes that the mountain air would help F.O. with his tuberculosis. After spending a summer in Estes Park, F.O. made what has been described as a miraculous recovery. The Stanley’s were grateful to Colorado for what it did for F.O.’s health and decided to build a hotel in Estes Park, so that more people could enjoy the area as well.

The first place that we went to on our tour was the Concert Hall, which was actually in a separate building next to the hotel. This is where the Stanley’s would entertain their famous friends, such as the Rockefeller’s.

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 It was pretty cool to think about how many famous and historical figures have spent time in the building. Today, the Concert Hall is used mostly as a venue for parties and wedding receptions. The Stanley is a very popular wedding venue. In fact, a wedding was taking place on the hotel grounds while we were there.

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I thought that one of the most interesting things that we saw on the tour were the underground tunnels for the servants throughout the hotel. Back in the early 1900’s, the hotel workers were not allowed to walk through the same halls as the wealthy, upper-class guests. The solution for this was to build extensive underground passageways for the servants to use in order for them to get around the hotel. They had an entrance to one of the tunnels in the basement of the Concert Hall and we were able to go inside. I know that I would be creeped out if my job required me to walk through an eerie tunnel every day. I felt like I was in Downton Abbey or something. Thankfully, as you can imagine, the hotel employees don’t use the tunnels anymore!

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 After checking out the Concert Hall, we walked back to the main building. The front of the hotel is just so grand. It feels like going back in time. The architecture is stunning.

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If you’ve seen The Shining, you remember the famous and terrifying scene in the hedge maze. After decades of not having a maze at The Stanley, earlier this year they planted one. Right now the plants are still pretty small, but I’m sure that it will only look creepier as they grow taller! I’m excited to come back again and see the progress.

I had been to The Stanley Hotel once before back when I was a little kid. Since I was so young, I didn’t remember much about it, except for the main staircase. As soon as I walked in to the lobby, I recognized it.

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 The lobby is really beautiful. I love the hardwood floors.

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The front porch also has some classic wicker furniture for you to sit in while you enjoy the amazing view of Rocky Mountain National Park in the distance.

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 As we went up the stairs, we saw tons of old paintings of F.O. and Flora Stanley, along with many of the other people connected with the hotel. I almost expected the eyes of the people in the portraits to follow me as I walked by.

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 One of the things that I was the most excited to hear about on the tour was how Stephen King became inspired to write The Shining while staying at The Stanley. Our tour guide showed us the room where Stephen King stayed during his time there.

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Most of Stephen King’s previous novels were set in Maine, so he was looking for a change of scenery that might inspire a different setting for his next book. On October 30th, 1974, he ended up coming to Estes Park to stay one night at The Stanley. According to Wikipedia, King said, “When we arrived, they were just getting ready to close for the season, and we found ourselves the only guests in the place — with all those long, empty corridors…” King and his wife ate dinner in the grand dining room, totally alone with no other guests around. He said, “Except for our table all the chairs were up on the tables. So the music is echoing down the hall, and, I mean, it was like God had put me there to hear that and see those things. And by the time I went to bed that night, I had the whole book in my mind.”

A common misconception about The Stanley Hotel is that the famous Stanley Kubrick version of The Shining was filmed there. Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining was set in Colorado, but was filmed at multiple locations including a soundstage in the UK, Glacier National Park in Montana, and The Timberline Lodge in Oregon. Stephen King wasn’t a fan of the way that Stanley Kubrick directed the movie however, and he played a big role in the 1997 TV mini-series Stephen King’s The Shining, which was filmed at The Stanley.

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 Another fun fact we learned on our tour was that a few years back, someone snuck into the hotel and wrote “REDRUM” on the ceiling of a creepy, hidden attic passageway (if you’ve seen The Shining, you know what “REDRUM” is all about). If you look closely at this picture, you can see it.

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Creepy right?!

After our tour was over, we walked back outside and I took a few more pictures of the beautiful grounds of the hotel.

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 I recently read that actors Elijah Wood and Simon Pegg are on the board of directors for a brand new horror museum that will be built at the hotel soon, called The Stanley Film Center. The center will feature not only a museum, but also an auditorium, soundstage, and production space. I’d definitely like to check that out once it’s finished being built.

We loved our trip to The Stanley. Estes Park is only about two and a half hours away from Colorado Springs, so we’re planning on coming back as much as we can and I’m sure we’ll drop by The Stanley every once in a while. There’s a lot of interesting history at The Stanley and many exciting things happening in the future there. I definitely recommend it.

Today, I’m linking up with Malinda (from the My Brown Paper Packages blog) for the Wednesday Wanderlust Link Party and also the Weekend Wanderlust Link-Up with A Brit & a Southerner!

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Thanks for reading and happy traveling!