It’s Election Day 2012!

Although we probably won’t know who the winner of this election is until late tonight (as the polls are still indicating a very tight race), we can watch as the electoral votes add up, which, of course, is how the president is actually elected. The debate over a popular vote vs an electoral vote has been going on for more than 200 years.

The electoral college was put in place by the framers of our Constitution who decided that the states should do the voting, not the people. At that time, the United States was simply a union of individual states that had come together to resolve the many issues of establishing a democracy, but the thought of being a single nation was not yet in the consciousness of many. Eventually, a compromise was struck so that voting for president would take place state by state, so that each one could have its say. Each state was given a number of electoral votes equal to the combined total number of senators and members of the house of representatives it had, usually giving the most populous states the largest number of electorates. The popular vote–your vote–is what guides the electoral college to cast its votes. We can still see this separate state idea being played out today when we hear of red states, blue states and, of course,  “swing states,” those in which candidates campaign so heavily because swing states can tip the balance of the electoral college vote.

Do you know when the last time a president was elected that did not have the majority of the popular vote? It was in the year 2000 when George W. Bush defeated Al Gore, who had a very narrow lead in the popular vote, but lost the electoral vote 271 to 266.

Who will come out ahead in 2012? We’ll hopefully know that tomorrow!




Day of the Dead —In Celebration of the Ones We Have Loved

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life. It’s a day for families and friends to gather together and honor those who have shared the path of life and who have gone on before them. For some, it’s a chance to reminisce and tell stories, sometimes with a sense of humor and sometimes with a tear for someone special.

This holiday, celebrated on November 1st is observed the most in Latin and Central American countries, but is also experienced in parts of the United States and Europe as well. It is lovingly celebrated in Mexico where scholars trace its origins back to Aztec festivals. Similar to its Catholic counterpart “All Souls’ Day,” it gives the living another chance to share their love for those who have passed on. In Mexico, private altars are built so that prayers can be said for the good of the deceased. Favorite foods and beverages are also shared and gifts of marigolds and sugar skulls are left at the graveside. Sugar skullsmay be given to members of the family or offered to the dead out of respect. This gesture is an effort to share sweetness and the light of life.

In some communities, parades and dancing and colorful costumes are part of the celebration. Candles burn brightly and skull-shaped masks are worn.  Cemeteries are full of well-wishers and people praying for those in eternal rest. In other communities, a tradition, much like Halloween, finds children dressed in costumes seeking gifts of money or candies as they knock on people’s doors. The children are welcomed as part of the opportunity to celebrate life.

However the community opts to celebrate the Day of the Dead, it is intended as a loving and living tribute to those who are still missed and still loved and certainly remembered throughout the communities of the world.  In that regard, the Day of the Dead is a truly beautiful holiday!



October–Breast Cancer Awareness Month

As most everyone knows, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A large number of organizations and medical establishments have joined forces and are working together to promote awareness of this disease, share important information, educate, and help provide greater access to services. So many women’s lives have been saved in recent years due to these efforts. The greatest goal of these groups, of course, is finding a cure to save so many more.

Fortunately, in the meantime, more and more women are learning to take charge of their own breast health–

  • knowing what is normal for them
  • knowing what changes to look for
  • doing regular self-exams
  • letting their doctors know of any changes
  • getting regular screenings (based on their doctor’s suggested schedule)

And for those who are living with breast cancer, either as a warrior, a survivor or a caregiver, these organizations provide invaluable assistance, encouragment, education, treatment and hope. 

Although October puts the spotlight on this effort, the fight to find a cure continues throughout the year. In the meantime there remains much to be accomplished.

For more information, please check out any of the following websites–a few of the many that provide information on breast cancer facts and statistics, risk factors and prevention, self-awareness, early detection and screening. Additionally, they offer ways you can become involved in helping those who are seeking a cure…either through donation, participation in local events or becoming an advocate.

Finally, just a gentle reminder to take time now to schedule that all-important mammogram!


The “Save the Girls” postcard above can be found at and is perfect for sending and sharing, either as a facebook post or as an email. In addition to Breast Cancer Awareness, there are other Health Awareness ecards that are available as well .



September 21, 2012: International Day of Peace and Gratitude

September 21, 2012 is notable because two organizations have ordained it as a date to celebrate the things that give rise to the best in humanity—our mission for world peace, and our sense of gratitude for all we have.

The International Day of Peace was established in 1981 by a resolution in the United Nations General Assembly.  Its hope is to see the world set aside its weapons of discontent and hostility and let peace reign, even if it’s just for a day.  An annual day of non-violence, a day of true peace is intended as an ideal—a way of reminding us to seek better solutions to the problems that confront us on every side, from environmental issues to those of human justice.

This year a meeting in Rio de Janeiro will bring renewed commitment from all individuals and nations involved to increase their efforts to find sustainable peace for everyone on this planet, setting the stage for a secure future for all.

As Harry S. Truman once wrote, “It is understanding that gives us an ability to have peace.  When we understand the other fellow’s viewpoint, and he understands ours, then we can sit down and work out our differences.”

Concurrent to The International Day of Peace is World Gratitude Day.  World Gratitude Day was actually started in 1965 with the intention that we should become more aware of those things that inspire us to be grateful.  Its goal is to remind us of the importance of feeling and showing gratitude toward the people we love, the work we do, and the opportunities we have to fulfill our destinies.

It’s good for us, states M. D. Babcock (noted 19th century American minister and writer),  to “be on the lookout for mercies.  The more we look for them, the more of them we will see…Better to lose count while naming your blessings than to lose your blessings to counting your troubles.”

Let us count our blessings in all things then and let us come to the 21st of September with new intentions, with a desire to appreciate the people we love, to work for the good of all humankind, to seek peace and to give honest thanks for the things in life that make such a difference in the world. Let us come to the 21st of September and give thanks for the peace in our own neighborhoods…for our homes, our friends, and our families.



This September 11: Honor, Remember, Reunite

 “May the lives remembered, the deeds recognized, and the spirit reawakened be eternal beacons, which reaffirm respect for life, strengthen our resolve to preserve freedom, and inspire an end to hatred, ignorance and intolerance.”

These words are part of the mission statement of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center in New York City. As the nation and world mark the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, we share the sentiments of the 9/11 Memorial, making today a day of commemoration.

Some of the ways we can commemorate this day is to observe a moment of silence to remember and honor the nearly three thousand men, women and children who lost their lives on September 11, 2001. We can thank our local first responders and other everyday heroes for their dedication to protecting our lives and communities. We can remember and thank the many Americans who have served or who are currently serving in our nation’s military–many of whom enlisted as a response to the 9/11 attack.

We can attend remembrance services and other appropriate ceremeonies and activities, and we can fly our flags at half-staff, as directed by Presidential proclomation (Patriot Day, 2002.) Just as importantly, we can be diligent in keeping each other safe–holding our families and friends a little closer and answering the call to help others in time of need. In this way, we will honor the memories of all those who lost their lives and will continue moving into the future as a stronger, kinder and more aware nation.




Endangered Species Day





If you’ve ever been lucky enough to see a wild animal in its natural habitat, you know it’s a beautiful sight. From Cougars, Bighorn Sheep, and Jaguars, to Green Sea Turtles, Gray Wolves and Steller Sea Lions, these animals and so many others all call the U.S. home. Unfortunately, these creatures, along with a variety of plants and other wildlife find themselves on the Endangered Species list and one step closer to extinction.

In order to build awareness on this issue, the U.S. Senate established the third Friday in May as Endangered Species Day, with the hope that everyone will take part in caring for the rich and diverse native species of our country. Every year, thousands of people throughout the country celebrate Endangered Species Day at parks, wildlife refuges, zoos, aquariums, botanical gardens, libraries, schools and community centers. Events such as festivals, field trips, park tours, community clean-ups, film showings, classroom presentations, and many other fun and educational activities.

Although we may not welcome wild animals into our homes, all animal lovers can understand the importance of keeping these endangered species around for as long as possible. At, we love all animals, and our new pets collection was designed with them in mind. Whether dealing with the loss of a pet, or celebrating your birthday along side your furry friends – this collection is celebration of animals!



Welcome, First Day of Autumn!

Welcome to the first day of Fall!

Twice a year, during the earth’s orbit around the sun, we experience equal amounts of daylight and nighttime as the sun crosses over the equator.  In the Spring, we call it Vernal Equinox, and every Fall in September it goes by the name of Autumnal Equinox.

But Autumnal Equinox is much more than marking the season before the nights get longer and the leaves change color, soon to parachute from branches to the ground below.  Equinox, meaning “equal night”, has its share of folklore and tradition as well.  Some are rooted in mythology, others are more grounded and carry their tradition to this day.  Those surrounding Autumnal Equinox included the following:

One of eight Wiccan festivals that honor nature, Called Sabbats, falls near this date in September.

In Greek mythology, Persephone (formerly named Kore) returns to the Underworld on Autumnal Equinox to live with her husband, Hades, for half a year after living on Earth with her mother, Demeter, starting at Vernal Equinox.

Mabon, the Witch’s Thanksgiving, was a Welsh god and the male “counterpart” to the Persephone myth.  Taken from his mother while only days old, Mabon gestates in the womb of Modron (the Great Mother) waiting to be reborn.

Higan (meaning “the other shore”—nirvana), a Buddhist memorial service, occurs around the time of Autumnal Equinox (as well as Vernal Equinox), for seven days and serves to comfort ancestral spirits with loved ones visiting family graves.

Michaelmas, the Christian holiday honoring the Archangel Michael, has pagan roots in Autumnal Equinox—end of harvest time, the marking of shorter days and longer nights, as well as the expulsion of Lucifer from Heaven by Archangel Michael.

Clearly, this time of year has a variety of cultural observances spread around the world, diverse in custom, yet united in season.  This September, when experiencing one of the biannual “balancings of nature”, remember the multitude of celebrations that share the advent of Autumn.



Gratitude Comes In a Million Ways!

It’s been said that if we truly counted our blessings, we may never again have to think about our sorrows.  Counting blessings is like stacking up reasons to be grateful.  If we planted a flower, for instance, for every time we were conscious about our sense of gratitude, many of us would have an incredible garden to behold.  Some of us though, may look around and wonder why nothing ever seems to bloom.

Charles Dickens reminded us to “reflect upon our present blessings, of which everyone has many, not on our past misfortunes, of which everyone has some.”  Getting your gratitude garden to grow may be as simple as that, reflecting on your present blessings.  If you offer thanks for your family, your health, your work, your faith, or some other area of your life, you may find more seeds of joy than you expected.  You may have a million reasons to be thankful.

Has anyone done something nice for you in the past few days?  Have you shared your talents and your ideas with another?  Have you had a chance to shop for something new, walk peacefully along the road, undisturbed and quiet?  Have you been able to take a class, go to a movie, worship as you please?  If so, then today, you have delightful reasons to be grateful.

As we come to Gratitude Day, let’s open our hearts to all that we have and hold  closely those things that strengthen our lives and make the ride worthwhile.  When we think about it, we may discover we have an abundance of reasons to declare our joy right out loud.

If your list begins to run dry, remember all the people who are grateful today because they know You!  No doubt, they are offering thanks for wonderful you at this very moment!



It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month

Over eighty United States congressmen and women; Nobel Prize winners; Pulitzer Prize winners; Oscar winners; Tony award winners; not to mention countless key military figures and frontiersmen.  These are just a handful of the achievements made by a multitude of Hispanic-Americans over the past two centuries.  But it wasn’t until 1968 that President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a week in September as National Hispanic Heritage Week, which later broadened into National Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988.

Every 15th of September through the 15th of October, Hispanic-Americans are recognized for their leadership and pivotal roles in shaping our society.  From the days of our country’s fight for freedom during the Revolutionary War to modern day mavericks who revolutionized the world of entertainment, Latinos have oftentimes been at the forefront of many breakthroughs:

  • General Bernardo de Gálvez, who aided General George Washington during the Revolutionary War with a supply of arms, money, and other essentials.
  • Post-Civil War, irrigation techniques, which were deemed necessary in America’s Western territories, were learned from Mexicans.
  • Since the Revolutionary War, Hispanics have carried a proud tradition of serving in each war theUnited States has participated in, with thirty-eight Hispanics being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor throughout that time.
  • The archetype of the cowboy—or vaqueros—from the Old West derived from Hispanic culture.
  •  César Chávez founded the United Farm Workers Union, which gave harvest workers the means to negotiate labor contracts with growers of produce.
  • Famous Latino sports figures include: Roberto Clemente (baseball) , Lee Trevino(golf), Esteban Bellan (first Hispanic major league baseball player), and Nancy Lopez (golf).
  • In the world of entertainment, Cuban band leader and producer Desi Arnaz (I Love Lucy) pioneered the “three camera” technique for filming a TV sit-com that became the industry’s standard.
  • Rita Moreno, the first Hispanic (and second ever) to win an Oscar (West Side Story), a Grammy, a Tony, and an Emmy (for guest hosting The Muppet Show).

And the list goes on…. As clearly evident, Hispanic-Americans have not only helped lay the foundation for our country, but have played active architects in every facet of its design, both practically and recreationally.  Through ingenuity, innovation, and an unyielding strive for independence, Hispanic-Americans have been the bellwethers and keystone figures in our past and present who will undoubtedly serve as beacons to our nation’s future.



Back to School — Another Fresh Start!

Even before the leaves have dressed up in their sparkling fall colors, the preparation begins.  Stores offer their best selections of colorful notebooks, glittery pencils, and backpacks with favorite cartoon characters or sports logos.  Everything is fresh and new again, another year will soon begin.

Can you recall that first year, that first time when you were just a little kid lacing up your new tennis shoes or Buster Brown’s and getting ready to walk or ride the bus with a whole lot of strangers?  You were probably a bit wary as your mother packed your little lunch pail with a peanut butter sandwich and some carrot sticks.  You hoped she’d put in a cookie for good measure.

School!  It could be a bit daunting.  Big hallways!  What if you got lost?  What if you couldn’t find your way to the bathroom?  What if your teacher didn’t like you?  There were so many things to wonder about.  Perhaps you could fake a tummy ache.  After all, your mom wouldn’t want you to go to school if you were ill.  Yes, that could be the thing to do!

When you finally got to your classroom, you were impressed by the brightly lit room, the colorful bulletin boards that looked like there might be some fun things to do, and the corners of the room devoted to wonderful books and arts and crafts.  This might not be so bad after all!  This was looking good.  Wow!  You could hardly wait for school to start!

Whether you’re sending a little one off to school this year or you’re a teacher getting ready to go back for a new year, or you simply enjoy the memory of school days, from those early years, to those high school events, or college days, there’s something wonderful about going back to school.

This fall, encourage the back to schooler in your life with eCards from and consider re-creating some “back to school” moments of your own by signing up to take a class, or learn a craft, or begin a new project.  After all, you can still make your mother proud.  Besides you’d love one of those cool new notebooks!