Enjoy Some Wonder This May

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 9.25.29 PM.png

Photo: Charlotte Bird

With May just around the corner, I thought it was time for some wonder on display! Faeries remind me of the simplicity of childhood, and also keeping open to wonder in life. I was a lot like this little girl growing up, looking for the stars winking in the sky, waiting for something amazing to happen, or wishing all my stuffed animals would come alive at night.

One May tradition I want to try this year is leaving flower bouquets on neighbors or friends’ doors. Precious!

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 9.43.49 PM.png

Photo: lfvaustin.blogspot.com

Host a Faerie party! Some gardens and locations have faerie parties this upcoming week. Be on the lookout in your area!

Screen Shot 2016-04-27 at 9.28.42 PM.png

Photo: May Day Faerie Festival at Spoutwood Farm in Pennsylvania.

Buy a tiara and host a tea party! I got to interview some princesses recently at Disneyland, about the magic of wearing one. See it here:

I love Gail Carson Levine’s books. Whether dragons, fairy tales, or even a fairy quest, they’re terrific! You could read Ella Enchanted, then watch the movie, and discuss how they changed the story for a kids book club this summer.

If you just want a little faerie magic, try these pop-ups by Cicely Mary Barker which are so charming.


And my friend Ralene Burke has a new faerie series called Bellanok, too!



Visit my Pinterest here for more ideas with whimsy:


Three Steps To Create An Elegant Bridge To Summer


With wisps of scented trees, bees at work in the gardens, and projects due at school, I realized it was time to really think through what we want out of this summer. When one boy left behind kids’ shoe sizes for good, and the other sprouted whiskers, I suddenly felt the slippery slope of time racing forward a bit too fast. Can you relate?

So how do you put on the brakes, without hampering your family’s progress or running up a hefty tab for summer camps?

Here are three key steps to create a more satisfying and meaningful summer plan.

Evaluate your dreams for the weeks ahead.

Perhaps you have some work commitments, and with those are accustomed to setting goals and deadlines. Try treating your current kids’ ages as a benchmark for some of your summer plans. Is time going too fast? Where can you unplug and laugh with them? Where will the word “no” be used less? Wherever that is, it’s a great option. Craft a week or two in a place where joy has room to bubble forth.

Look at their life-skills and see what’s lacking.

Is it important for your kids to know how to put up a tent and light a fire? Are they facing bullies in school and need to up their self-defense knowledge? Are they always so serious that it’s time to be silly? Check out their individual knowledge and seek opportunities to grow at least one new skill this summer. For example, we want our older son to know some basic survival skills, so he’ll get to pitch tents, light fires, aim arrows, and more at Scout camp.

Increase your fun bank account.

I’m intentionally leaving a few weeks without a lot of plans. My kids work hard during the year and I’d like to say “yes” to play times, flying kites, trips to the beach, painting together, or maybe explore a new exhibit about things that interest them. I can create pockets of fun just by being dialed into their interests and seeing what’s in town. For example, if there’s something new at the local science museum or within a one to two-hour driving radius, we’ll consider it. Some museums have free Thursdays so that helps with the budget, too. But nothing is possible if I don’t leave space for fun to fill in the gaps.

What are you planning for this summer? I’d love to hear your ideas, too!



Seven Ways To Put More Magic In Your Life


Are mundane tasks dominating your life and stressing your outlook? Here’s seven ways to add more magic into the everyday mixture for you and your family.


  1. Light a fire – Whether it’s a candle or a fire in the fireplace, the flickering light seems to signal something special is coming. Usually it leads to more laughter at our dinner table and loosening up for the parents, too.


  1. Turn on magical music – We often listen to a station from London broadcasting amazing classical music. Not the kind that makes you snore, but the elegant, heart-lift, gaze sparkling kind. And it’s fun to hear what’s happening so far away on the newsbreaks, too!


  1. Read a great book – Check out my Goodreads here for some great suggestions for books that encourage and enhance your view of life, in our world or another one too. When I connect with another sense of beauty it expands my capacity to handle the everyday here.


  1. Connect with silly – Put on those Mickey ears or get messy in the kitchen baking. Do something a little youthful and let go for a while. Smiles will expand and hearts will warm.


  1. Try some pins – Not the sharp kind, but on Pinterest, there’s a whole world of amazing images to snack on. I’ve selected some here on my Pinterest. Follow your favorite authors there too!


  1. Take a walk – With Spring here, I love taking a short walk in the evening. My son sometimes comes on his scooter and suddenly starts telling me everything about his day. Sunset seems more magical with little moments of connection, too.


  1. Hang around authors – connect with great authors on line. You can connect with their author sites, follow their blogs, and see everyday life on Facebook and Twitter. It’s so encouraging to watch their posts and feel a little sparkle enter your day with beautiful pictures or words. Some of my favorites (and others recommended by my friends) are listed on my author’s Facebook.


How do you keep the sparkle in everyday life? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Here’s one of my latest YouTube videos, that includes a little behind the scenes of who I am, and some other fun things bubbling up as we get closer to launching the new website. Lots of good things in the works. Can’t wait to tell you!! Subscribe to the YouTube channel too!


Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.


A present: Five Tips For A Resilient Fall

Gerald Murphy's masterpiece, with amazing gears and balance reminds me of setting goals for this fall. At the Dallas Museum of Art.

Gerald Murphy’s masterpiece, with amazing gears and balance, reminds me of setting goals for this fall. At the Dallas Museum of Art.

People keep asking, what can we do to make a difference with our kids, find our dreams, or make plans that actually help? Recently I visited the Dallas Museum of Art and saw this intricate painting by Gerald Murphy, with all the gears and perfect angles. It reminds me of how delicate and tremendous it can be to wind up new goals during a busy season of life. So to celebrate our one-year anniversary next week, I’m giving you Tips For A Resilient Fall.

Here’s a five part, New Beginnings Series, just for you:

Understand your dreams

Have new dreams been nibbling at the fringes of your thinking, but you’ve been pushing them aside? If they won’t go away, maybe it’s time to listen. Next week we’ll have tips for doing just that, and deciding what to do when new ideas bubble forth.

Get infrastructure in place

Sometimes the backlash of dealing with difficulties takes a toll on another area of your life. For us, it’s the need to constantly adjust our organization. But if we want to be in the play, and try new activities, and still give flight to our dreams, we have to change. Don’t let your dreams die because of back-up. I’m looking at travel and several big goals, but if we don’t get organized there will automatically be unnecessary strife, so I’ve scheduled time to address it. I’m aiming for continued improvement—you can too.

Adapt to open doors

The ability to dance and shift to new priorities is going to be key when you’re in a state of change. Accepting this in advance can help you actually be more open minded to new opportunities or even closed doors that come in your path. It’s hard, but with that adaptive mindset, you and your family can better adjust and spend less angst over the what-ifs. Live in the moment, cherish the memories, lessen the feeling that a drone is chasing you down the street by admitting something will need to shift and believing in your own ability to overcome when this happens.

Find your updraft

So now you’re ready to jump, but I’m going to encourage you to watch for an updraft, that current of air just ready to help you push higher than you ever thought possible. Perhaps it’s a new habit, friendship, or mentor’s wisdom, but keep alert to any opportunities to press in and push further. I’ve found at critical junctures that a conversation with a wise person makes me think of an innovation to my stories, or something that looks like a misstep at first can be made over to give further strength, insight, or oomph to your effort. We’ll help you identify the trends to watch for.

Press through the net

You’ve persevered, worked very hard, and are oh, so, close to succeeding. Yet the FUD, fear-uncertainty-doubt factor, suddenly pays you a visit. Or someone in your life needs more attention and it feels like your dreams might be shelved. Or an emergency takes all attention away from the goal for a season. Or your child is making poor decisions and requires more guidance. When you pursue a worthy goal, there will be something, I can almost guarantee it, that shakes you up. But we’ve already planned for this with the infrastructure from step two and the adaptability we’ve been practicing from step three. Go address the higher need, but know you’ve got what it takes to return when a quiet moment arrives, and will press in to complete the goal. I’ve got many ideas for reigning in your dreams after the interrupts and pushing through to the finish line.

So we’re in for a fun fall, and some surprises at the end of the series, too. Check my author Facebook here https://www.facebook.com/elizabethvantassel for updates about starting book two, waiting for the right publisher for the first one, and other exciting surprises coming to you!

Goodbye Goodyear Blimp, Hello New Vision

Goodbye Goodyear Blimp photo reminds me of childhood memories and the era of new beginnings upon us now.

The Goodbye Goodyear Blimp photo reminds me of childhood memories and the era of new beginnings upon us now.

Just look at this photo of the Goodyear Blimp – being retired!

If the blimp community needs to keep advancing and growing by huge leaps, how could I be any different? Yet my stomach gave a little twist when I saw the title, “Goodbye Goodyear Blimp.” Immediately I remembered seeing it in the skies above stadiums or over the waters of the San Francisco Bay where I grew up. We’ve always loved glancing at it even just parked by the freeway when driving up to see the grandparents, too. I felt a little ill knowing its years of service were over.

Somehow the blimp is a bit like this week for me. Loss and new beginnings, all in one photo.

I’ve been in Texas doing some media work and learned so much. While I was gone, though, a very wise woman who spoke joy into my life passed away. Her battle with cancer, finally through. A week of new beginnings, and endings also. Prayer requests for those with children in life-threatening situations. Good early grades, hard studying for kids, burgeoning ideas for how to help people; then finding I need help, too.

In the see-saw of life’s churning priorities, it’s so very restorative to remember the patterns in life. To take a measure of comfort knowing we’re all still learning and growing, no matter how old we are.

I’d like to be graceful in the site of new thoughts and ideas. Yet the thrust of the article focused on the new mechanics and glass-encased viewing area. I could picture myself floating above the heights of buildings and soaring over crowds, and new movies being made about the replacement ship that can now go more than 70 MPH. But the little girl inside, who used to stare in awe at the slow moving one, had to sigh before turning the page and making a silent goodbye of my own. Well, maybe not so silent since I’m writing this here.

Goodbye is so permanent and the only way I know how to adjust is holding fast to things that are more lasting, like faith and an eternal perspective. But I do have one tip if you’re having to face into a mixed situation like this one.

Give yourself permission to grieve, to say goodbye, to remember wonderful moments.

This special lady taped my name to her steering wheel when my pregnancy with our first son was in great jeopardy and I spent three months in bed. She opened the sticky tape once more when my second child almost died and was in hospital and was one of many lifting him up. I should have bought her more tape, because she was always the first to encourage us and send notes or small, meaningful gestures in the darkest of times.

She wasn’t afraid of loss, just of others feeling alone. She didn’t complain about her illness or problems, but was first to cross the bridge of need for others and bring her bright smile alongside. She’d sit in the quiet or enter the fray, whatever was required, with genuine gestures of faith and hope. I don’t want to see her go, but it helps that she has left such a wonderful legacy of enduring lovingkindness to so many.

Have you been touched by someone’s kindness in your life? How are you using it to affect others or share your wisdom in turn?

I’ll challenge you as I also feel heading into fall and the busy times and commitments—remind yourself to find the deepest well and offer another a life-giving drink. You might just boost them to reach new heights and overcome their own inhibitions and fear, to float to somewhere they can have a higher perspective and be able to see the potential that life has to offer.

As I’m editing this, I’m at my son’s Boy Scout meeting and attached to the wall in this school are folded American flags from vets that gave their lives in honor of so many. Who gave all so I could sit and write with a voice of freedom. Another looking-back with gratitude, facing forward with new perspective kind of moment.

I hope your week is punctuated with insights that make you reflect on true value and be filled with resolve and hope.


Dedicated in memory of Nancy Boyden, who touched so many with her light for Jesus.

Original photo, Jae C. Hong, AP, as it appeared in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The Treasure Box

This beautiful silver box with precious stones reminds me of my own heart's treasure box.

This beautiful silver box with precious stones reminds me of my own heart’s treasure box.

When you have to pack and run for it, you find out what is your true treasure.

This week we’ve been in Dallas before some media work and it’s given me a renewed appreciation for generous hearts once more. People who accept you after many years, places bringing old smiles back to the surface, silly comments by our kids as they experience a new part of the world. Dallas has been kind to us once more, but mainly for the people and shared experiences that can bridge the distance and miles and years apart.

As we head into uncharted territory, trying new things and rediscovering grace in special ways, I keep thinking of the treasures I’ve been given, and those I’m soon to give away. Given—friendship, gestures of kindness, unwarranted grace and forgiveness, family, and new beginnings. To give—advice for avoiding some bumps in the road, shortcuts and money-savers for parenting, and other nuggets derived from much pain. Like the gold that rises during purification, these precious things are my treasures.

It’s so important to realize what should be in your treasure box, to count each morsel of beauty, and be connected with others to share.

What kind of beauty are you grateful for today? Take a moment and appreciate your gifts as we head into a new school year. It helps slow the march of time just a little, and broadens the scope for renewal to enter in.

The Walk of Gratitude

Welcome to MakeUsSmile.com. The kids and I made a gratitude site this summer in thanks for good things after the fires.

Welcome to MakeUsSmile.com. The kids and I made a gratitude site this summer in thanks for good things after the fires.

After finishing my manuscript for my fantasy where the main character is a wildfire survivor, I was talking with a friend about those first weeks, months, and years—what it was like. And the words spilled out about all who helped us. Suddenly I knew what we could do with long hours on hot days this summer. We could each use our gifts to not focus on ourselves but on others’ goodness in a new way.

Jonathan with his engineering side, Chief Tech and Director.

Joey as Chief of Fun with dances and camera angle insights.

Mom writing some of it and helping edit the message to make it clear.

Dad as chief audience, too.

This is your official invitation to come visit MakeUsSmile.com, a fun website where we thank people, companies, and organizations that were so helpful after the wildfires took everything in 2007. With our Camp Gratitude this summer, the boys used their aptitude for technology in a great visual thank-you note.

It’s not easy to start over, but with the kindness of a few, it has multiplied into much. Don’t ever think that a small gesture to someone who’s broken and looking for the new path forward goes unnoticed. We will forever be grateful to all. And Joey’s dancing party is not to be missed!

Bless you in your new beginnings!