Thanks Be to God: Karen’s ThankList

Thanks Be To God: Karen's ThankListBy Maria Isabella

Karen Michelle Miller has many reasons to be thankful. She is loved by a devoted husband and two beautiful daughters. She has a successful career as a gifted author, poet, and motivational speaker. And…she’s a recovering alcoholic/drug addict. Yes, she has much to be thankful for.

“I LIVE for Him, really,” says Karen. “He has given me another chance, and I am NOT going to waste it!”

It was almost exactly 10 years ago to the day that Karen found herself at rock bottom. She was escaping a sad, painful past while avoiding all the uncertainties of tomorrow. Alcohol had helped her cope since the age of 14, then drugs slowly took over. And unhealthy, life-destroying decisions were being made all along the way.

Suddenly, on that decidedly fateful day, while the deepest despair surrounded her, Karen heard a loud voice. “What the hell are you doing?!” it boomed. Karen turned around. To her shock, no one was there.

{“Something told me that voice was shouting down from the heavens to knock some sense into me before it was too late,” she confessed.}

So Karen mustered the little strength she had left and slowly, resolutely pushed aside her feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, and self-doubt. She checked herself into a recovery home in order to give sobriety one more try—one last try. For the sake of her daughters.

“I am now 10 years clean and sober,” says Karen, beaming. “I am happy and content. That’s a BIG deal for me.”

Karen and sisters

Karen and her sisters (Photo courtesy of Karen Miller)

 

She goes on to add, “I believe with all my heart that ‘the voice’ I heard [that day] was, in fact, the voice of God. I am now fully committed to being a good mom, wife, daughter, sister, and friend…AND to sharing hope with young women who are suffering, particularly from addiction and depression.”

When asked what she would say to God this very moment if she could, without even a moment’s hesitation, Karen replied, “THANK YOU. Please continue to guide me to do YOUR will and not mine.”

We deeply admire and respect Karen for her life-changing efforts and her altruistic determination to make a difference in other women’s lives. Her gratitude to God for all His gifts is just one more perfect example of how ThankList is showcasing the power of love and thankfulness.

Karen Michelle Miller wrote her first poem, featured in her newly released book, Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men, while residing in a recovery home with 13 other women over 10 years ago. Today, she continues to share her message of hope via her Book, Facebook, and Twitter.

Karen Miller Book: Words to Ponder About Life, Love and Men

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Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teacher Appreciation Week Gift Ideas

Teachers play an important role in our children’s success. And while their efforts should be praised every day, Teacher Appreciation Week (May 4-8) is a great time to call out their achievements and thank them for all they do.  Check out these fun and unique Teacher Appreciation Week gift ideas below to show your gratitude.

1. Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

Teacher Thank You Gift by Our Family Journey

2. Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

Back to School Supply Cake by Stephanie Lynn

3. Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

Homemade Teacher Gift: Crayon Monogram by A Mom With A Lesson Plan

4. Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Blooms by Bloom Designs Online / Skip To My Lou

5. DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

DIY Apple Jar Tutorial by The 36th Avenue

6. Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-Create / Skip To My Lou

Teacher Appreciation Gardening Gift by U-CreateCrafts / Skip To My Lou

7. Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Paper Cup Apple Gift Wrap by willowday

Have you heard about our ThankList documentary series? Watch what happens when  Waliek and Chaun are given the opportunity to thank the teachers who changed their lives forever.

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Gratitude and Grief: Kristin’s ThankList

Gratitude and Grief: Kristin's ThankList

Photo credit: Brooke Collier Photography

When we launched the ThankList, we knew that we would likely hear compelling stories of gratitude from others. Once the concept of a ThankList is explained, it’s hard not to start creating the mental list of those who have had an impact on our lives. But the outpouring of support for our mission and desire from our fan base for their stories and voices to be heard has been truly humbling.

One of those conversations revealed a compelling, inspiring story that we wanted to share here with you.

In 2007, Kristin Meekof’s husband Roy was diagnosed with advanced stage adrenal cancer. Yet somehow, despite the grim prognosis and enduring an aggressive treatment schedule, Kristin found Roy not only accepting of his diagnosis, but relishing in moments of gratitude for the life he’d been given.

He never said, “Why me?”. Instead, he said, “Why not me?”

Despite being widowed at age 33 only 8 weeks after his initial diagnosis, it was Roy’s open heart and attitude of gratitude that has stayed with her. She says that he taught her that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question. Inspired by both his spirit and her ability to turn something tragic into something beautiful, we had a few questions we wanted to ask about Roy and his legacy.

Q: Tell us a little about your husband Roy.

Kristin: Roy was a middle school teacher, a veteran, and a gentle soul. My husband lived with an open heart and very much believed in living in the light, literally and figuratively. Before we were married we exchanged gratitude lists with each other via email, so thankfulness wasn’t something foreign to him. It was part of his being.

{Gratitude when you are diagnosed with terminal cancer

is bringing light out of a very dark well.

In this light of gratitude is the place that he dwelled. }

 

Q: Do you think he knew how he changed you? Did you ever get to say thank you?

Kristin: I would like to think that he knew that his presence, our marriage, our friendship changed me, but I don’t know if he knew how deep it was. Since we were in the habit of exchanging gratitude lists, something we started before we were married, I did say thank you.

And since my late husband’s death, I make it a point to give a handwritten thank you cards to my dear friends because their kindness matters to me. It is important to put these things in writing and thank you cards are a beautiful gesture of kindness.

Q: How has your life changed because of his perspective?

Kristin: With gratitude comes an openness and a sense of bravery. About three years ago, I decided that I wanted to co-write a book for widows of all ages, and I interviewed many widows about their experiences. The widows were incredibly generous with their time and thoughts and for each of them I am eternally grateful. It is all bittersweet because the impetus for this research and book is loss, but gratitude made it possible. Gratitude opened the door for this book project and as a result I’ve formed some incredible friendships.

Q: If you could speak to him today, what would say?

Kristin: I would tell him that I still think of him daily and continue to love him. I would thank him for teaching me that gratitude is the answer to nearly every question.

I think he would be surprised to know that I co-wrote a book, and then I’d explain that I decided to write the book for widows so that they would feel less alone. Then, I would talk about all of the beautiful people who helped me with this three year project, and some of the gorgeous opportunities that I’ve been given.

Kristin is a Huffington Post contributor and co-author of the book A Widow’s Guide to Healing: Gentle Support and Advice for the First 5 Years. As a part of her dedication to helping grieving widows around the world, she’s traveled to Kenya with a charity organization.

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Cute thank you gift ideas

Cute Ways To Say Thank You

People feel the urge to express appreciation for many different reasons, but as our recent survey results show, people often forget to express gratitude… and regret it! That’s why we’ve pulled together some easy, yet totally adorable thank you gift ideas from some fantastic blogs. Whether it’s a teacher, coworker, friend or family member, showing gratitude is an easy way to make a huge impact!

1. ‘Thanks a Latte’ Thank You Gift Tags by Kinder Craze

Thanks a Latte gift tags by Kinder Craze

2. Free Mini Thank You Notes by the Cardstore Blog

Free Mini Thank You Notes by the Cardstore Blog

3. It “Mint” a Lot Thank You Jar by Happy Money Saver

It "Mint" A Lot Thank You Jar by Happy Money Saver

4. “Simply the Best” Lemonade Tags by Queen B & Me

"Simply The Best" Lemonade Tags by Queen B & Me

5. The Art of The Surprise Note by The Thinking Closet

The Art of the Surprise Note by The Thinking Closet

What creative ways do you like to use to say thank you?

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Behind the scenes: our #ThankList launch event

On Tuesday, March 24, we introduced ThankList to the world by cohosting an event with Huffington Post at the New Museum in NYC.

A panel discussion on the benefits of practicing gratitude took center stage to kick off this memorable event. The panel was moderated by chair, president and editor-in-chief of The Huffington Post Media Group, Arianna Huffington, and the panelists included Deepak Chopra, actor, director and producer Elizabeth Banks, psychologist  Dr. Randy Kamen, New York Times Best-Selling author Gabby Bernstein and two-time Oscar award-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple.

This event also served as a premiere of an inspiring and compelling documentary series by Barbara Kopple in partnership with American Greetings that followed five real people as they created and fulfilled a their own personal ThankList. You can watch their stories here and see how two little words can mean so much.

For a closer look at the event, check out the photos below:

Photo credits: Phillip Angert

Now it’s your turn! Join us in our efforts to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place on www.thanklist.com where you can make your own personalized video and view what others are grateful for.

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Introducing #ThankList

Introducing ThankList by American GreetingsAs you well know, American Greetings is rooted in helping to create meaningful connections. For more than 100 years, we‘ve been bringing people together through expressions of happiness, laughter and love through our words and artwork. Recently, we decided to take our efforts to make the world a more thoughtful and caring place to the next level.

And that’s why we’d like to invite you to join our ThankList movement! It‘s an initiative that challenges people to create a list of individuals they want to thank for helping to shape their life. They can be family, friends, teachers, mentors… anyone who has made a difference in your life. The ThankList is a catalyst for expressing gratitude and heartfelt forum in which to do so.

We’re all familiar with a bucket list–a list of things you want to do before you die. But a ThankList? That’s a list of important people in your life that you want to thank to feel alive. 

ThankList Definition

How can you join in the #ThankList movement?  It’s as simple as saying two words–thank you.

We created a digital experience that encourages everyone to start practicing gratitude by writing their own ThankList. Via written word or a dynamic personal video, all messages of thanks are aggregated into a collective, never-ending ThankList. You can also watch a compelling documentary series by two-time OSCAR® winning filmmaker, Barbara Kopple that follows five real people as they created and fulfilled a their own personal ThankList.

Lastly, you can also join in by using #ThankList on Twitter or Instagram and sharing your stories of gratitude. We’ll be sharing your stories here.

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The importance of gratitude

 

The Importance of GratitudeWhere has the gratitude gone?

If it’s true that we learned everything we need to know in kindergarten, than it seems a large part of our society needs to head back to the classroom to be reminded of the pillars of human kindness. In our modern tech world, our heads are looking down at our phones and we’re more disconnected than ever! In fact, a 2014 Civility in American study conducted by Weber Shandwick, Powell Tate and KPC Research revealed that 95% of Americans believe we have a civility problem in America. The good news is that the same study showed that 87% of people are willing to do something about it!

Here at American Greetings, we’d like to present a remedy for a rude world–gratitude. We’re on a mission to put gratitude back on the map and make the world a more thoughtful and caring place one ‘thank you’ at a time. To start, we’ve partnered with Harris Poll and learned some eye-opening statistics about gratitude in America.

Infographic: The Importance of Thank You

Were you surprised to read that people are craving to hear the words, “thank you?”

Help us make a difference! Visit ThankList.com and together we can make the world a little bit nicer if we simply remember to show gratitude, share, and above all—hold hands and stick together.

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Ways to give back

AG_TW_Kruse_Quote_December

During the holiday season, charities across the US see a large increase in the number of volunteers.  As people get into the giving spirit during the holidays, they find great ways to give back, whether it’s donating their time or money to an organization. Unfortunately, after the holiday excitement has come and gone, charities and non-profits oftentimes find themselves still needing enough volunteers.

So if you’re still looking for a New Years resolution that doesn’t involve a daily commitment, but can provide a lasting impact, we’d like to suggest setting a goal for giving back this year.

Need some help getting started? Here are some great ways to get involved in your community:

  • The gift of time – find a non-profit that resonates with something you’re passionate about, whether it’s doing a craft with local nursing home residents, caring for animals at a pet shelter, or putting together packages for military members overseas. By selecting a cause that’s near and dear to your heart, you’re more likely to follow through and the time you spend there will be even more meaningful.
  • Power in numbers – if your skill set includes event planning and a large network of friends and family, consider serving as an fundraising organizer! Community bake sales, rummage sales, and spaghetti dinners not only bring people together, but they can bring in surprising amounts of money for important causes.
  • Get moving – If you enjoy running or walking, there are a number of opportunities to raise money for charity while enjoying the great outdoors. Check to see if your favorite non-profit hosts a run or search for runs here.
  • Just get giving – If you find yourself time-strapped, non-profit organizations are always looking for financial contributions. This allows them to allocate dollars to the places that are most needed, but may not get as much attention. Websites like Guidestar can help you select organizations that are well-known for their fiscal responsibility.

If you still find yourself struggling to find something that’s a good fit for you, check out Volunteermatch.org, a site dedicated to helping you find local charity and volunteer opportunities!

What are some other ways to give back throughout the year to show gratitude for all of the blessings in our lives?

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What to Write in a Thank You Note

01022013_ThankYouCard

The holidays brought so much joy–from glorious gifts to fabulous dinners—and there’s so much to be grateful for. The perfect way to show it, of course, is with a thank you note. The following tips will make writing them a breeze, and can be used for any occasion.

Begin with a greeting: Be sure to  include everyone. If a gift was from a family, include the children as well, and name both the host and hostess.

Be specific: “Thank you for…” or “I really appreciate…” Be expressive, too, and include complimentary adjectives. So, if you’re thanking someone…

  • For Gifts — Let them know how you feel about the gift, or how you plan to use it. For example: “I’m so touched you remembered my favorite…!” or “It looks perfect in…”
  • For Gift Cards —  If you’ve already spent it—or know what you’re going to buy with it—let the receiver know. If you don’t know, tell them how much you’re looking forward to shopping with it. If you received money, it’s polite to say thank you for their “generosity” or “kindness,” and then how you plan on using it.
  • For a Party Be sure to compliment the host/hostess on a specific food, decoration, or even refer to a shared conversation. For example, “It was great hearing about your kids-you have to be so proud of them!”

Include well wishes: Add a message about the receiver, not the gift. Wish them well or express your hope that you’ll see them soon— make it sincere. This thoughtful touch is always appreciated!

 Add a perfect finish: Say thanks again and close the note, using words appropriate for the relationship, such as Love, Warm or Kind Regards, Sincerely, etc.

So, don’t put off those thank you’s!  After all, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~William  Arthur Ward

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Celebrating Summer!

Refreshing iced tea on a hot summer's day... delicious!

Long sunny days, warm starry nights…Who doesn’t love summer? Summertime = fun time—and one of the best ways to have fun is with a party – so get those summer party invitations ready!

There are so many choices when it comes to summer parties and they’re such a breeze to plan. All you need is the right setting and the perfect summer recipes.  A beach or pool party is a great way to cool off on a hot day, especially when you serve tall glasses of gourmet iced teas. Thinking of having a relaxing get-together? A woodsy site is another wonderful place to enjoy the outdoors. Bring along a portable grill, throw on some perfectly seasoned burgers, and you’re off to a great time!

If you’d like to keep the festivities at home, why not throw a tropical soiree and light up the night with strings of colored lights and tiki torches. For athletic sorts, a backyard sports extravaganza is a winner when you set up games like horseshoes, badminton, and croquet. And whether you’re cooling off those competitive spirits, or just looking for a refreshing treat for any summertime party, serve quick and easy desserts like frozen fruit slush. If you’re concerned about decorations, the best idea is to take a hint from Mother Nature and use bright, floral colors and lush, vibrant greens. Those summer-inspired hues will work great no matter what type of get-together you’re having.

Even though the air is causal, be sure to remember your manners! Thank you notes are always in season, so if you’re a guest, send a personalized thank you card saying “thanks for inviting me!” Your host will be thrilled—and you’ll be guaranteed a future invite. Likewise, if you are the one throwing the party and receive any gifts or treats, be sure to send out your thank-yous, too. It’s the perfect way to wrap up every wonderful, fun-filled celebration of summer!

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