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Renewing Connections with Friends (part 1)

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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.**

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Words Really Do Matter!

Why Word Really Matter, from BlueMountain.com

When you want to convey your feelings precisely, words matter. When you want to express your thoughts clearly, words matter. And when you want to say exactly what’s in the deepest part of your heart, words really, truly, absolutely do matter…to you and to everyone you’re expressing them to.

Which is why we at Blue Mountain recently celebrated Words Matter Week. You see, our editors take a lot of time and painstaking care in crafting that singular perfect message that goes with each and every one of our eCards. As wordsmith experts, they know just how important it is to choose the right words…the right sentiments…and the right message— so you don’t have to (unless, of course, you want to).

For those special times when only you can say it best, we have Printable Cards and Stationery that you can personalize any way you’d like. Then again, if you’d still like a little help along the way, we invite you to read any of our what-to-write blog posts where we offer suggestions, special words, and messaging options for both holidays and those “just because” occasions. We are always here to add that personal touch and make our greetings your own. Happy writing!

 

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12 Gifts of Christmas Kindness

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Everyone at Blue Mountain is excited to share our 12 Gifts of Christmas Kindness. We created a special new collection of FREE digital postcards this year – each with a simple act of kindness that you can easily complete. Our own Blue Mountain team will be completing several of the acts ourselves and we encourage you to do the same. We will be highlighting the 12 Gifts on our Facebook wall, and we hope you will share the postcards via email, Facebook, mobile and more. These gifts are a simple and beautiful way to pay it forward, and give the gift of kindness this year and always!

 

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How to write a Thanksgiving blessing – Part II

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Now that you’ve had some time to pull your own ideas and thoughts together using the tips from our last blog post, we thought we’d share with you some favorite traditional prayers and inspirational poems that you may like to lead with, or combine with your own expression of thanks.

Remember, gratitude in and of itself is a beautiful thing and there is no right or wrong way to speak about it. Simply relax and speak from your heart, and enjoy the opportunity to let those around you know how thankful you are that you’re all together for Thanksgiving.

Poems, Graces and Prayers:

  • Bless us, O Lord
    and these Thy gifts,
    which we are about to receive from your bounty.
    Through Christ our Lord.
    Amen.
  • Bless this home
    with love and cheer,
    And bless all those
    who gather here.
  • Thank you for the day so sweet,
    Thank you for the food we eat,
    Thank you for the birds that sing,
    Thank you, Lord, for everything!
  • Every so often, we all need a day to stop everything we’re so busy doing
    and simply be. A day to turn off all the noise and step outside to breathe
    in the air, and to know we are part of something bigger than ourselves.
    A day to realize the richness of our blessings, the miracles we are,
    the wonder that is our lives, the gratitude in our hearts.
  • With a prayer that this beautiful season
    gives us many new reasons
    to rejoice and thank the Lord.
  • Thanksgiving is a time of awareness,
    of caring and sharing —remembering the best,
    seeing the beautiful,
    being grateful for the fullness of life.

Chinese Proverb
When you eat, remember the farmer.

From the Poem i thank You God
by E. E. cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day…for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

Servant’s Heart
Dear Lord, thank you for this gift of food
You’ve placed upon our table.
And help us all to do your work
In any way we’re able.

Serving Food by Thich Nhat Hanh
In this food, I see clearly
The presence of the universe
Supporting my existence.

Grace
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends,
We offer thanks. Amen.

A Blessing based on Gandhi’s Principles
Oh God, bless this food we are about to receive.
Give bread to those who hunger; and hunger for justice to us who have bread.

Shortest Grace by Dag Hammarskjöld
For what has been—thanks! For what shall be—yes!

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Raise awareness for breast cancer with FREE postcards

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and BlueMountain.com currently has a partnership with six non-profit organizations to offer free digital postcards throughout the month.

We hope that you will share the postcards, which were designed to raise awareness for organizations that provide resources for those affected by breast cancer and their families. Each postcard contains illustrations and branding specific to the participating organizations. All of the postcards can be found on a special page dedicated to Breast Cancer Awareness Month eCards on the Blue Mountain site.

The participating organizations include:

In addition to sending the postcards via email and Facebook, Blue Mountain users can visit the partner sites to donate or learn more about how to support the participating organizations this month and beyond.

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Be an Angel Day

08222013_Be-an-Angel-Day_Blue-Mountain“Thank heaven for angels who help us fly when our wings are too tired.”

Today marks “Be an Angel Day,” which celebrates making the world a better place through acts of kindness, care and support. It’s pretty fitting that this day falls within national friendship week because we all know that friends are angels in disguise.

Anyone can be an Angel, and sometimes just a smile can lighten the heaviest heart. Here are some simple things that anyone can do to brighten someone’s day.

  • Call someone you have not talked to in a long time, and spend some time catching up.
  • Let go of old hurts and practice forgiveness in all your relationships.
  • Bake some cookies, or make a meal and invite your neighbors over.
  • Help out your older neighbors by grocery shopping, or taking out their trash.
  • Invite an unemployed friend to share in a special dinner or function and take care of the cost.
  • Send a card just because. It’s sure to brighten someone’s day to know they are being though about.
  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food bank.
  • Offer to babysit for a couple so they can share a night out.
  • Donate money or goods to a local charity.
  • Call an old friend and catch up with an ol’ fashion gab session.
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RAMADAN (7.9)

Ramadan Postcard, Blue Mountain

Sunrise to Sunset

Throughout the next 30 days, over 1.5 billion people around the world will be observing Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, with adults fasting and praying from sunrise to sunset.

In North America this year, Ramadan begins at sunset on July 9, but there are some years when it falls in the middle of winter! This is because, for those who don’t follow an Islamic calendar, Ramadan is a moving holiday that shifts about ten days every year based on date of the new moon. Despite the changing dates, the strong traditions of Ramadan remain the same: there is fasting, prayer and the practice of selflessness.

Fasting and Other Traditions

Fasting is one the Five Pillars of the Islam religion and one of the highest forms of Islamic worship. For Muslims, it’s a way to sacrifice earthly pleasures, share the sufferings of the less fortunate and more deeply appreciate the bounties of Allah. Only adults are expected to fast, but children enjoy the other traditions including the excitement of sighting the moon and sharing special meals.

A typical day of Ramadan begins just before sunrise with a meal called Sahur, followed by the first of five prayers, which are offered all day long. And then the fast begins. Throughout the day, Muslims are encouraged to go out of their way to help the needy, both financially and emotionally. In fact, some people are so enthusiastic about helping others during this month, they barely have time for themselves.  But since Muslims believe they will be rewarded more than 70 times over for good deeds during Ramadan, this is well worth the effort. At the end of each day, the fast is broken at sunset, often with social dinners or “lftar parties.” And then remainder of five prayers is offered, usually at a Mosque.

Eid-ul-Fitr

The month of Ramadan ends with a festive celebration called Eid-ul-Fitr (commonly called “Eid”) which often lasts three full days.  Muslims get together with family and friends, share gifts and eat delicious dinners. Or they take a short vacation…before patiently waiting for the next year.

Overall, Ramadan is a very special time of brotherhood and customs that brings about a feeling of closeness, community and religious commitment, which is a wonderful experience for Muslims of all ages around the world.

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CELEBRATING JUNETEENTH

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A Little History…

Although President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation freed many African Americans, slavery itself wasn’t abolished altogether. It wasn’t until June 19, 1865, when Union General Gordon Granger marched into Galveston, Texas, declared the end of the Civil War, and read aloud General Orders, No. 3, that all slaves were freed, creating a ripple effect across the country in what has become known as Juneteenth.

Celebrated the following year, in 1866, Juneteenth became a day similar in festivities
to the Fourth of July, with prayer services, inspirational speakers, a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation, and merrymaking which included food and drink, dancing, storytelling, and other exciting events.

 Celebration Ideas:

Here are a few ideas to jump start your Juneteenth celebration, both in educational and entertaining ways:

Host a day-at-work seminar: Invite guest speakers knowledgeable of Juneteenth
and its timeline to talk to your company’s employees in order to familiarize them with
the observance and its meaning. Create a theme and post your company’s involvement
on its web site.

Community involvement: Organize events at your local schools and libraries. Create interactive displays that can educate participants on the origin of Juneteenth and its evolution, and ask local businesses to sponsor these events.

Plan a picnic: Land in parts of Texas purchased by ex-slaves, known as “emancipation grounds,” was later turned into Emancipation Parks in such areas as Houston, East Austin, and now Booker T. Washington Park in Mexia, Texas. Host your own outdoor gathering with food and festivities to celebrate the day.

Contact Congress: Although it was made an official holiday in the state of Texas on January 1, 1980, Juneteenth has yet to receive national recognition. Several U.S. Senators, public officials, and other outspoken individuals have been working to ensure that Juneteenth becomes an officially recognized national holiday, similar to Patriot Day or Flag Day. Show your appreciation for these men and women by contacting them and supporting their efforts.

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A MEMORIAL DAY TRIBUTE

This Memorial Day, as we honor our fallen men and women in uniform who have served since America’s birth, let us take a moment to reflect upon the sacrifices they have made in the name of freedom for all.

The following poem pays tribute to those who have given their lives so that others may pursue America’s great promise of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

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Fallen For Freedom

With every fallen hero,
And every sacrifice,
Each man and woman serving
Knows freedom has its price.

As stars and stripes fly higher
Over lands, both far and near,
New generations take the pledge
To protect what we hold dear.

And should that mean they offer up
Their lives for liberty
Their sacrifice is not in vain—
For freedom isn’t free

And so today we honor those
Who have been laid to rest—
Remembering that these brave souls
Gave better than their best.

~Brian MacDougall

 

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