The Appreciation Factor

All things Appreciation: Things to Appreciate and the Ways we look at, Show and Think about Appreciation.


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Thankful Thursdays – July 16th Edition

Happy July everyone.  Today I have four great links to share with you that will help beat the heat and hopefully inspire you — several were passed along from friends and followers of my blog.

So sit back and enjoy these latest links that make me smile on this Thankful Thursday — (My tribute to stories and videos that exemplify appreciation, those that have moved me, and other people making a difference.)

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Illuminating A Time Honored Tradition

Throughout my life, I have either annually vacationed on Martha’s Vineyard or lived there full-time for a spell or two.  It’s a magical place and I often find comfort and appreciate the simpler times and traditions that still exist  – especially those I can find during the hectic and high-traffic month of August.  One such event, is the annual Illumination Night “hosted” by the Martha’s Vineyard Campground Meeting Association (MVCMA).  This is a magical night where cottages shine brightly with silk Japanese and Chinese lanterns as well as some modern-day paper ones, and 200,000 visitors stroll around the centralized Tabernacle to the tunes of the Vineyard Haven Community Band.

Illumination Night, once such a close-to-the-vest secret that you would only know of its arrival when you saw MVCMA residents hanging lanterns in preparation for the night’s festivities, now seems to be annually held on the third Wednesday of August.  It originated 145 years ago as Governor’s Day – a day where the Island marked the visit of the Governor of Massachusetts.

The history of the Martha’s Vineyard Campground Association started back in 1835 as the first Island campmeeting (aka campground) called Wesleyan Grove.  Primarily Methodist congregations from off-Island would set up and live in “society tents” that encircled an open-air tabernacle.  In the 1860s and 1870s, the tents were replaced by “permanent” wooden (and often-referred to as gingerbread) cottages.  Today, only just over 300 remain from the almost 500 of the past.

Some homes and special lanterns and paper parasols I loved this year:

Illumination Night 13 Collage

What I love and appreciate about this event is that despite the large crowds – yes, really over 200,000 are known visit on this night – there is still a sense of peace and almost a respite from the often hectic and quick pace we seem to experience today.  I love looking at the intricate designs and marvel at the lanterns that have survived sometimes 75 years (or longer) of Illumination Night festivities.  Not many of the silken lanterns, which were originally lit with candles, have survived the flames or challenging climate of the Island.

Cottage owners proudly display their treasured pieces of history and will share a bit about the background of their uniquely named cottage or their lanterns, if you only just ask. (I have also heard that residents who sell their cottages are asked to leave behind their lanterns so that the new owners can participate the following summer.  (I think it might be hard for me to leave all of mine if faced with the choice.))   One other aspect of this event that I love, is the tradition of having the oldest citizen of the campground – or one that has been honored that year – light the first lantern that lines the Tabernacle’s roof, signaling the cottages to do the same and light up their porches, roof tops and yards.

If you have a chance to view this event that can take you back to a simpler time, I’d highly recommend it.  If you’ve attended Illumination Night in the past and you feel as if its  “seen that, done that” I recommend taking  a different tack.  Instead of following the crowds around the Tabernacle, take the back lanes/paths and look at what I call the under-appreciated cottages, those that are not on the “main route.”   While everyone is focused on walking around the circle, you’ll find fewer people and often more creative displays.  (The pictures above, except for the top  two images in the right-hand column, were taken on some of the smaller, less visited paths.)

Do you have an annual event (summer or otherwise) that is meaningful to you, or encourages you to appreciate the simpler times?
Have you ever visited Illumination Night?  What did you think?  Is there a special house you always visit or a tradition you follow when you attend?  Share your story with me.

 

 

Additional facts/history about Illumination Night were obtained via the MVCMA website, the Cape Cod Online Blog and newspaper articles covering the annual event.


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Anchors Aweigh

Since launching my blog, I’ve written about ways I appreciate people and things, as well as how others show and share their appreciation.   In the spirit of mixing it up a little and stealing borrowing the collage post style I’ve admired from several of the blogs I follow, I wanted to share something I appreciate (in this case: makes me happy) and which inspires me in this “new” format.  Today I’m featuring the Anchor.

Many know the anchor as the fashion statement of this summer year– you see them on clothing, as jewelry, on cards (scroll down a little) and used as home fashions/accessories.  Despite this recent craze, I can say that I’ve long admired the anchor, especially for another reason — it is a longstanding symbol for “Hope.”  The word with this symbol has been used in both religious references and noted in secret societies’ rituals.

I personally love that you can think of the anchor as tying you to something or someone when you need encouragement and hope that it will all work out.   Plus from the fashion perspective, I love the nautical look.  I’ve been wearing/using anchors before the craze and see them as a way to add a fun, flirty touch to an outfit, or as a way to carry the beach theme into your home decor.

Here are some anchors that I’m “tied” to:

Anchor CollageClockwise from top left:
1.  This 4 inch iron anchor was a gift from my dad that he picked up for me in Northern CA – Thanks again Dad!
2.  A favorite TJ Maxx find – my Cynthia Rowley anchor shirt.  (BTW: They had the exact duplicate at my JCrew factory store/outlet for more than double the price!! (I was a true Maxinista!).
3.  A great 10+ foot anchor seen recently at the Mystic Seaport – I can’t begin to think about how large the boat was that was held steady by this big boy.
4.  An aspiration gift.  This is a wish necklace from Dogeared.  The idea is to make a wish when you put on the necklace and when the charm falls off – your wish should come true… Although I think I’d be heartbroken when the string broke and the anchor fell off!  They also call this one their “Friendship” necklace because our friends “help  us navigate the waters of life and help us get where we need to go.”  A great sentiment in itself don’t you think?
5. And finally this one was a great Chilmark Flea Market find.  Once used as a printer’s form to ink anchors on clothing and fabrics, the vendor simply removed the sponge insert and replaced it with wood to give it a second life.

What do you think about anchors?  Do you see them as a symbol of hope or simply a trendy fashion statement or household knickknack? 

What do you think about the idea that an anchor ties you to something or someone?


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Little Notes … Big Impact

Oh the joy of finding a love note, word of encouragement or appreciation tucked inside your jacket, purse, luggage, lunch bag or on your keyboard.  The little things can mean a lot.

I’ve always enjoyed writing and giving little notes, pictures or an inspirational quote to show I care.  I’m not necessarily talking about creating anything elaborate, but rather something I make on the spur of the moment.  Think of a note or picture on a post-it note, index card or even a message written several pages ahead in a loved one’s notebook. (Parents seem to be particularly skilled in this practice, especially when it comes to wishing their kids good luck on an upcoming test or tryout/audition.)

I also like adding the element of surprise if I can.  I think it’s best when the recipient comes upon these notes unexpectedly.  And candidly, I probably enjoy the element of surprise as much as I enjoy letting someone know that I am thinking of them.

Here are some samples I found online that illustrate what I’m referring to:

  

 

 

 

 

Haven’t tried it?  Don’t have a significant other or child?  I also try to create these moments of delight by simply saying thank you.

I often like to recognize the help that I receive at work, by handing out thank you “notes.”  I thank my co-workers, direct reports or even my boss when they have helped make a bad day better or if he/she has provided instrumental assistance/guidance on a project.  I’ll also maintain that element of surprise by dropping off these notes when the recipient is away from his/her desk. 

As a bonus, I found a great product made by Compendium, Inc. that makes my effort even more impactful.  It’s a pop-open 2-1/4”w x 1-7/8″h card with “Thank you” on the front and an inspirational “thank you themed” quote revealed inside when you “pop” it open.  Again, it’s not a formal note, it’s simply a few lines of appreciation that I write on the back (lines are provided), accompanied by a great quote.  And while the quote is always a surprise, it’s ironic how often it seems tailor-made to the event or the help that inspired it.  

 

Want to try it but don’t think you can draw or you need inspiration?

If you’re too unsure to create your own, you can buy these the cards.  I found and buy mine at this MV gift shop, but you can purchase yours at this Compendium site.  They sell 26 different themes!! – I didn’t know that they had so many.  Personally I’ve used/sent four themes so far: “Thank you”, “You’ve Got a Friend”, “I Believe in You” and “Whatever it Takes.” 

 UPDATE 2016: Compendium has revamped the cards – some changes for the better others not sure (definitely more packaging which I’m not a fan of, but I do like the call out to “open” the card – which was quite tiny on earlier versions.)  Their new site is http://www.live-inspired.com (which was automatically redirected in my link above.) The name of the product changed to “Thoughtfulls, (under “pop-open cards” in their Products drop down.)  They also have “lunch mail” which are notes targeted to kids.

I’m also not clear on how the “thank you” and “thanks” cards differ – it’s not really spelled out on the site. (I own a new box of Thank you, Thoughtfulls and it’s a similar approach to those I’ve used in the past.) 

 

So what are you waiting for? Make a big impact by sharing (and hiding?) an inspiring note of love, appreciation or luck today!

Do you have a unique way of showing that you care?  I’d love to hear about it!  Share it today.