post

5 Ways to be Kinder

“Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”
_ Henry James

Kindness matters. It’s a simple and true fact. Being kind causes a ripple effect through the world, making a beautiful difference. And not only does kindness effect the world, but it always positively affects the person who is being kind. But how kind are we (or aren’t we) on a daily basis? Being kind comes easier to some people than it does to others, and we thought we’d share some helpful ideas for all of us to keep in mind as we practice the art of kindness in our daily lives.

5 Ways to be Kinder

  1. Be grateful for what you have. It’s easy for all of us to take the people and things we have for granted. Avoid that by taking a few minutes each day to reflect on what you can be grateful for.  Even better, write down 5 things you’re grateful for each day in a gratitude journal.  If you’re more aware of all the nice things that happen to you, you’ll feel like doing nice things for others.
  1. Be present. Everyone wants to be heard and validated. One of the most important things you can do is be fully attentive and actively listen when someone is talking to you. No cell phones, emails, or texts—take the time to connect with people face-to-face, or with an uninterrupted phone call. The greatest gift of kindness to another is to be in the moment in their presence.
  1. Minimize judgment. Set aside your judgment of other people and practice being positive and compassionate. Remember Plato’s saying, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” It’s easy to focus on ourselves and forget that others around us have their own struggles, too.  So instead of being critical, try giving people the benefit of the doubt and make positive observations about them.
  1. Smile more. Buddy the Elf said it best, “Smiling’s my favorite!” Don’t ever underestimate the power of a smile, because yours might be the only one a person receives that day. Even if it doesn’t come naturally to you, practice by simply smiling at strangers as you pass by, or holding open a door for them. It will not only add a pleasant spark to their day, but it will actually trick your mind into feeling happier, too.
  1. Be kind to yourself. When you’re kind to others, you have the tendency to be kinder towards yourself, but don’t get caught up in meeting everyone else’s needs before your own. That’s why it’s important to take time for yourself and rejuvenate in ways that make you feel good. This is also a good time to stop any negative thinking. When you become aware of your own needs and limits, you’ll reach out to people with more strength and compassion.

Please share our image above with friends and family as a gentle reminder of ways to be kind each day.

5 Ways to be Kinder5 Ways to be Kinder5 Ways to be Kinder5 Ways to be Kinder5 Ways to be Kinder5 Ways to be Kinder

post

Printable Halloween Cards

When getting ready for Halloween, what do most people think of first? Probably costumes, candy, and decorations. (Psst, for some really fun home and yard decorating ideas, click here.) But Halloween is also a great time to send some boo-tiful cards to let others know you’re thinking of them. Wouldn’t it be fun if you could actually customize them yourself to create exactly what you’d like?

Now you can!

Printable Halloween Cards

Blue Mountain has a whole collection of Printable Cards that you can personalize and print from the comfort of your own home.  It’s easy. It’s fast. And it’s a wonderful way to make the card’s design and message your own—which is why our Printable Halloween Cards are so perfect for the occasion.

In fact, designing your own Halloween cards is a really creative, fun-filled, rainy-day craft project you can do with your kids or grandkids!

The process is actually very simple. Just go to BlueMountain.com and let the little one in your life pick the card they like best.  Next, click on “Personalize and print your project.”

This is where the fun begins! With your help, let your child add text that includes their own message…in their own words. Add art from a variety of graphics that act just like stickers.  Add photos that you’ve got stored on your computer, phone, or camera. And then add fun frames available in many different shapes and sizes. (You can always preview your masterpiece before finalizing anything.)

Once your child is happy with their card, just press “Print” and there you have it! A personalized card your child can give or mail to someone very special in their life. (That could even be you!)

Of course, we also have many other cards that are suitable for any age, as well as party invitations for that frightfully delightful event you have planned. So go ahead, have fun…and Happy Halloween!

Printable Halloween CardsPrintable Halloween CardsPrintable Halloween CardsPrintable Halloween CardsPrintable Halloween CardsPrintable Halloween Cards

post

How to be a Supportive Friend

How to be a Supportive Friend

Good times and good friends just naturally go together, but what do you do when hard times befall your friends? It’s easy to be a good friend during the fun times, but your friends need you most when life gets difficult, and they often could use your support and some words of encouragement. Here are some helpful ways to be the friend she needs through big changes, hard times, and everything in between.

Actively listen
Don’t just hear what your friend is saying, actively listen and validate her feelings with phrases like, “That must have made you feel so anxious” or “I understand you’re really hurting.” Your friend wants you to empathize with her situation and show that she’s understood. Don’t dismiss or minimize the importance of the problem by saying things like, “That’s nothing to be upset over.” You are not her, and she’s the one going through the ordeal, not you.

Don’t compare
Don’t compare your friend’s situation to one of your own, as this may appear to her that you’re changing the focus to you. If you feel she might relate to your past situation, mention it and quickly bring the focus back to her, such as, “I felt the exact same way when “x” happened, but it got easier as I talked it through and maybe you’ll find that happening for you as well.” This shows you sympathize with her situation, and relate to it, while keeping the attention on her.

Don’t be “Miss Fix It”
Your friend mainly wants to be heard and supported. She’s not necessarily looking for you to solve or fix the problem. Rushing in with ways to “fix” things may give her the feeling that she’s not capable of handling it on her own. She really just needs you to be her empathetic confidant.

Don’t ask—take action
When friends are going through tough times, it’s our natural reaction to say, “Let me know if I can do anything.” The trouble with this is that now we’ve given our troubled friend a task to do in addition to dealing with her situation. Plus, if she’s not one to easily ask for help, then this becomes a daunting task for her and chances are she’ll never reach out. Instead, take charge yourself and make a few meals for your friend and drop them off. A homemade dish is always a sign of comfort, no matter what.  Or, simply stop by with her favorite coffee drink or smoothie to brighten her day. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in showing support.

Be her cheerleader
When she’s ready, let her look to you for cheering up. One of the best ways to help a friend in need is to offer a strong dose of positivity by validating her feelings and also showing a brighter side. She’ll not only reap the benefits of your good mood, but it will make even the most challenging situations easier for her to cope with.

Hugs are healing
Never underestimate the power of a hug. Sometimes, there are no words and simply pulling her in for a warm hug can make her feel nurtured, calm, and safe. Research has even shown that hugging boosts brain chemicals like oxytocin and serotonin, elevating one’s mood and creating a sense of well-being—everything your friend needs.

 

How to be a Supportive FriendHow to be a Supportive FriendHow to be a Supportive FriendHow to be a Supportive FriendHow to be a Supportive FriendHow to be a Supportive Friend

post

How to Nurture all of your Friendships

How to Nurture all of your Friendships

Not all friendships are created equal, but all friendships are indeed important and meaningful in their own unique, special ways.

Truth be told, there are varying levels of friendship. Some are extremely close. Some not as much, but still significant nonetheless. Although your various friendships may be different from one another, it’s still important to stay connected with each of them and to show your appreciation. After all, they have inspired, supported, encouraged, and motivated you—and perhaps even stood by your side—and probably continue to do so even today.

Blue Mountain has compiled a list of five different groups of friends you might have. We’ve also added fun ways to keep in touch with those friends in each group. Maybe you have suggestions of your own. We’d love to hear them!

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #1: BEST FRIENDS
Friends in this group are very few, but they’re the ones who know you best and accept you unconditionally. They’re also the ones you first turn to through the different phases of your life. To stay connected with this select group, the more personal, the better: one-on-one get-togethers, phone calls, and cards (yes, through the mail) are the nicest and most meaningful gestures.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #2: SOCIAL FRIENDS
These friends are formed from social circles that enjoy each other’s company outside the home and workplace. They enjoy getting together and having a great time, whether at each other’s homes, at outside venues, or at functions. To stay connected with this group, eCards are a good choice.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #3: WORK FRIENDS
Obviously, these friends are your professional colleagues and co-workers. You’re brought together through a mutual employer, but then you just happen to click on a more personal level. You might even socialize outside of work. These friends could also accumulate if you leave one company for another. To stay connected with this group, the social network LinkedIn is a great place to gather. Coffee and lunch dates are also nicely practical.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #4: SCHOOL FRIENDS
This group of friends could have been culled from your grade school, high school, or college…or your child’s grade school, high school, or college. These individuals might include classmates, teachers, professors, coaches, mentors, other parents, etc. To stay connected with this group (through messages and photographs), blogging and social media work extremely well. You might want to consider Facebook or Twitter. Also, alumni groups and reunions are great ways to keep in touch.

FRIENDSHIP GROUP #5: CASUAL FRIENDS
These are friends you see just every once in a while. They could be meet-up groups, neighbors, members of your religious affiliation, etc. You don’t see each other regularly, but you do enjoy each other’s company and you get along well. To stay connected with this group, you may want to make more of an effort to do a planned activity together (movie, dinner, concert, art show, bowling) or share a lovely treat (bakery, flowers, vegetables from your garden, a small gift). You can also reach out and send an eCard that shows how much you value their friendship.

 

How to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your FriendshipsHow to Nurture all of your Friendships

post

Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)

Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)

Your closest and dearest friend(s) will always have a special place in your heart. And you in hers. You know each other inside and out. You’ve gone through good times and bad. You’ve been there for each other through thick and thin. And there’s no one else you’d rather call your best friend.

But times change—and life happens. You don’t get to see each other as often as you once did. You don’t keep in touch as often as you’d like. And you suddenly somehow feel that an occasional phone call just isn’t enough.

You’d like to change that now. You’d like to reach out to her in some very special way and surprise her with an act of appreciation for your deep friendship. Any ideas of how you’re going to do that?

Don’t give it another thought. Blue Mountain has done all the work for you and compiled a list of 10 fun and exciting ways to reconnect with your BFF. Pick one (or more!) and delight her today!

MAKE A SCRAPBOOK OR VIDEO
Compile a scrapbook or PowerPoint slideshow of the many pictures you have of you and your best friend together. If doing a video, add songs in the background that have a special meaning to you both. Don’t forget to add a personal message that will touch her heart. This will truly become a keepsake.

RECREATE PAST MEMORIES
What did you use to like to do together? Ride bikes? Go bowling? Shop at the mall? Visit an amusement park? Have sleepovers? Recreate that exact kind of day with little notes that will remind her of your past shared memories and inside jokes.

HAVE DINNER TOGETHER
Visit a restaurant in a city that neither of you have ever been to before. Make reservations under your nicknames. Order for each other. Giggle the night away.

WATCH AN OLD SHOW
Rent an old movie that was a favorite of both of yours and laugh/cry through it together. Choose either a popular TV series (like “Leave it to Beaver,” “Father Knows Best,” or “I Love Lucy”) or a classic film (like “Gone with the Wind,” “Casablanca,” or “Titanic”). If a good chick flick about female friendship is more to your liking, choose “Thelma and Louise,” “Beaches,” or “Steel Magnolias.” And don’t forget the popcorn!

MAKE A RETRO DINNER
Cook dinner for your best friend that would be something you both loved as kids. Think retro. Your menu could include such all-time favorites as macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup, salisbury steak or meatloaf with mashed potatoes and peas, chicken à la king, tuna casserole, TV dinners, deviled eggs, spinach dip in a hollowed-out bread bowl, cheese spread in a can with a nozzle plus crackers, baked Alaska, a gelatin mold, or S’mores.

SEND FLOWERS
It doesn’t matter if it’s a magnificent bouquet or a simple arrangement. The important thing is that your friend’s day is made that much brighter when she receives those beautiful flowers from you. You might also want to accompany them with an eCard that expresses your sentiments. For a helpful guide, here is what some flowers signify:

  • Amaryllis – splendid beauty
  • Birds of Paradise – joyfulness
  • Black-Eyed Susan – encouragement
  • Blue Violet – faithfulness
  • Carnation – pride and beauty
  • Chrysanthemum – cheerfulness in old age; fidelity
  • Gladiolus – strength of character
  • Heather – admiration
  • Lily – majesty
  • Pink carnation – gratitude
  • Yellow rose – friendship
  • Zinnia – thoughts of friends

SHARE A SPA DAY
Book an afternoon (or even a full day!) of pampering at the spa for the two of you. Choose from the variety of services offered—from manicures and pedicures, to facials, massages, and body treatments. Throw in a shampoo/style, makeup application, or lunch, too, if available. Then get ready to enjoy a truly restful and relaxing time together.

ENJOY AN OUTDOOR ACTIVITY
Think outside the box on this one. Maybe plant a garden together. Or go hiking (and enjoy a picnic lunch afterwards). Or play in a playground. Or fly kites. Or rollerblade. Or go kayaking. Or run a race. Or…frankly, the world is your oyster.

ATTEND A COOKING CLASS
There’s nothing that brings good friends together quite like food. Choose a class that will introduce a cuisine or technique that’s new to both of you. Then maybe schedule another evening to recreate at home what you learned in class. Don’t forget the wine! Bon appétit!

GET AWAY
Schedule a getaway weekend just for the two of you. It can be as exotic (a trip to Paris!) or as modest (tenting in a national park) as you’d like or can afford. The important thing is that you enjoy your time together and get a chance to catch up on old times!

And now we’d like to surprise and delight YOU, our dear reader, with a free desktop background featuring one of our most popular friendship quotes. To set as your desktop background, simply click the image, and when the new window appears, right click and choose “set as background.”

Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)

 

Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)Top 10 Ways to Surprise & Delight your Best Friend (FREE desktop background)

post

Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

Happy Mother’s Day – Those three little words are loaded with so much meaning that there’s no possible way to fit all the things that make up those words into a single day. Yet, we try our best to give tokens of love to our moms with the hope that even just an ounce of what we feel is communicated to them.

So, how do you begin to show your gratitude for all she’s done and continues to do? We’ve compiled a Gratitude Guide with some ideas and inspiration to help you. Keep in mind that, when it comes down to it, most mothers would agree that your time is more wanted than things; your validation of who they are, more precious than gold…

List of Gratitudes
A daughter wrote a letter to her 80 year old mother, telling her how thankful she was for all the things her mother did for her while she was growing up. Her mother said it was the best Mother’s Day gift she ever received, and wants it to be included in her eulogy. Click Hereto read Faye’s letter to her mother…and maybe grab a tissue. If you would like to do something like this, you can use our Blue Mountain printable stationery as a beautiful backdrop for this gift she’ll cherish.

Sing it
Do you have musical talent? Write your mom a song and sing it to her, or record it for her so she can listen to it over and over again.

Dedicate a song on the radio
If singing isn’t your thing, call up her favorite radio station and see if they’ll dedicate a song to her at a time she’s probably listening.

A box of 52 of your favorite memories about your mom
Find or make or your own decorative box and write down 52 of your best-loved memories about your mom. She’ll get to read one each week over the next year.

Garden walk treasures
Go on a garden walk with Mom and collect leaves, petals, and anything that catches your eye. Back at Mom’s house, create a window display of your treasures reminding her of your enjoyable afternoon together.

Record a personalized ringtone for her cell phone.
Give her a heart a tug every time her cell phone rings. Record a special ringtone of all the kids/grandkids yelling, ‘We love you Mom/Grandma!”

Jewelry with meaning
Give her vintage map jewelry of the state/country where you grew up, her favorite bible verse, or a much-loved passage from a favorite book 
or poem.

A Now and Then Photo
Frame a photo of you and Mom from when you were still a baby and she was a young mom, and one of the two of you now.

Take a class together.
If you live close to your mother, take a class together of something she always wanted to do like sewing, painting, cooking, etc. Not only will it be a fun experience, but the time spent together is priceless.

Mother’s Day Photo Magnet
All moms have them—photos covering the refrigerator of all their children and grandchildren. This is a wonderful idea that can turn a photo of each person she loves into a magnet itself. You can make one of every child and grandchild. Once you’ve made the magnets, post them to her refrigerator with notes from each person on the magnet about what they love about her so she’s reminded every single day what an amazing woman she is and how she’s touched their lives.

Make a recurring appointment for a phone call with Mom each week. Plus, if you have siblings, assign each one a different day of the week to call Mom so she hears from her children regularly.

Tell Mom what you learned from her example.
This popular poem by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan is a wonderful way to honor mom and has been shared in many forms time and time again.

One of our Blue Mountain editors has created a Pinterest Board for many of the ideas you’ve read about in our blog today, and we also invite you to use our Mother’s Day eCards to help celebrate your wonderful moms.

All of us at Blue Mountain wish you and your mom a Mother’s Day to remember!

Gratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your GratitudeGratitude Guide for Mom: How to say Thank You and Show Mom your Gratitude

post

Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

When we “think Spring”, one of the first things that comes to mind is “refresh and renew.” Most of us have been buried under snow for months which has kept us from getting out and about and sharing time with friends, and sadly, it doesn’t take long before we’ve lost touch altogether.  But now that spring has officially ‘sprung’, it’s the perfect time to renew our connections with the people that matter to us.

So, how does one begin? How do you just pick up where you left off? Well, friendship is funny that way, as most friendships that are solid to begin with don’t simply fade away from the passing of time.

To give you a bit of a nudge, here are a few ideas to help you reconnect and get back into the friendship swing.  After all, as the old cliché goes—to make a friend, you have to be one. 

Email

If you use a computer or mobile device, it’s a fast and easy way to reach out.  For an added bonus, you can send one of our Blue Mountain Friendship eCards for a happy surprise.  Simply say hello and tell them they’ve been on your mind so you wanted to drop them a note and see how they’re doing. You can then say you hope to hear from them soon and end there. It doesn’t have to be complicated; just genuine.

Facebook

If you’re on this social site and you see a post of a friend you haven’t chatted with in awhile, don’t just “like” something they post; send a message. Again, this doesn’t have to be long or involved—you’re reigniting your connection, so keep it simple and sincere.

The beloved hand-written letter

Very few people write actual letters anymore, so it’s even more of a surprise when we actually receive one. And what’s more, everyone LOVES to find cards and letters in their mailbox. Pick out a card or some fancy note paper and jot down a few lines. You can even choose from among several designs of our Printable Stationery at BlueMountain.com and type your message to print out and mail yourself. Your friend will smile at your thoughtfulness when she receives your nice surprise.

If you parted ways badly

Did you have a falling out with a friend and you ended on bad terms but you wish you could reconcile? If you’re able to look past what led to the parting and let bygones be bygones, then start with a typed or hand-written letter, telling them how you’ve been thinking of them and how you miss the friendship the two of you shared. Include your phone number and ask them to call you because they may be hesitant to meet in person right away. When you do chat, don’t feel the need to launch into the past—ask about the present and the latest news in both of your lives. Start with the “now” and, like all the buds that are just starting to open, your friendship will slowly blossom back into being.

The good old fashioned phone call

With the world texting, emailing, skyping and all the other whatnot, it’s always so refreshing to hear the voice of an old friend on the other end of the telephone line. Yes, it’s easy to facebook and text if you do those types of things, but hearing the human voice with all its tones and inflections makes such a difference to what, and how, our feelings and emotions are being said. There’s just no truer substitute than the spoken word.

Welcome spring with a walk

Spring couldn’t have come fast enough this year so, once you’ve re-established connection, offer to meet your friend for a stroll in the park or for a picnic. Breathe in the fresh air of spring as you catch up and look forward to good times ahead.

**Be sure to check back soon for Part 2! Reconnecting and reaching out to family.**

Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)