12 Musings for the New Year

As the holidays approached with a beautiful full moon I decided to wade slowly into blogging once again but started with a 12 days of Christmas posting to my Facebook Page.  Many people have enjoyed my 12 posts which began December 25th and Ended with a reflection on Epiphany January 6th so I hope this year you feel love, have good health and know true joy!

On the twelfth day of Christmas, Epiphany I had to reflect on Hope, Light, and Optimism, after all that is what the holidays are all about. As we move forward into 2016 I want to be more optimistic about the future and to spread hope and light. So what is the simplest way of doing that? Be nice, be gentle, care about others more than myself, share a smile, share a kindness, be generous with positivity. Oh and the big one, be kinder to myself (you know those internal messages, let’s make those more positive and hopeful as well.)

On the 11th day of Christmas I was reflecting on food, nourishment and health. With all the wonderful sugary treats people have given me, I am enjoying the taste of the sugar but realizing it is not filling nor nourishing. So I will have to eat my sweets slowly and nourish my body with whole foods so I can think clearly, be happy and play well. Wishing you a year filled with good food, good friends and good health.

On the tenth day of Christmas I was thinking about the music all around us. I love listening to Christmas music through to Epiphany. Music is such a wonderful outlet for emotions from joyous to sorrowful and everything in between. I believe that every type of music speaks to someone, may you embrace all music this year and learn from every note.

On the ninth day of Christmas I am glad for all who have found employment, those who have growing businesses; those who are happy when they work. May you all find joyful work this year!

On the eighth day of Christmas I pray for all the young people who are struggling to find their way in the world. May they all find a safe place to belong and be loved.

On the seventh day of Christmas we celebrate endings and new beginnings. May you cherish the moments which bring you joy.

On the sixth day of Christmas I am reflecting on all those who have feelings they don’t quite know how to handle. Feelings need to be felt. Hoping everyone can find a healthy way to feel and deal with their feelings. I pray you feel happiness as we end 2015 and begin 2016.

Celebrating the fourth day of Christmas has me laughing. May you experience the joy of laughter; laughing with old friends and new; laughing at silly things. What a wonderful feeling. Hoping you laugh until your eyes leak!

On the third day of Christmas I remember all those who are hurting and I pray for healing and wisdom. May they all find the best health care provider they can for their situation.

On the second day of Christmas I pray that you are all able to find moments of peace and that peace becomes contagious around the world.

Happy first day of Christmas the full moon looks amazing above our house. May the wonder of the universe peak your imagination. (This is a picture of the moon over Healing Baskets.

Christmas Moon 2015

Gifting the Grieving

Gifting the Grieving

With December being here there are so many reasons to give people gifts so I hope over the next few weeks to give you some gift giving ideas for special people in your life.

Today I want to focus on those who may have lost someone they love this year, someone with whom they once celebrated the holidays.  How do you show care for them, respect the grief that they are sure to feel and express the love and care in your heart for them and their life.

First and foremost, show that you care. Continue reading “Gifting the Grieving”

Our Story

Our Story

Everyone has times in their lives when they do not know what to say or how best to express their love, concerns, understanding or presence. February 1st 2013 was the day my husband Michael and I had the opportunity to continue the work that Caroline Cheshire began ten years prior. We are honored to be the new owners of Healing Baskets and to continue Caroline’s legacy.  Caroline stated her hope, “Healing Baskets will give you something, whether gifts, words or just courage to reach out so that you won’t miss the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life when they need it most,” and this spoke to our hearts and our need to help people connect.

After three years we believe it is time to rename the blog and be a resource for The Perfect Sentiment for all that life puts before us. Here at The Perfect Sentiment I will share some of our life experiences but most of all I hope to inspire you to reach out with kindness to those in your life. My dream is for this blog to become a place for conversation and idea sharing. Please plan on stopping by and commenting regularly.

Below is Caroline’s story of why she began Healing Baskets, it is both beautiful and moving.

Heidi and Michael Jakoby

Co-owners, Healing Baskets



Closing 3

You cannot hide.  All of us at some time will have to face several of life’s great challenges. For me, it was my first miscarriage; my first experience of a broken dream and gut wrenching grief.  For a few weeks I sunk to an all-time low. Some friends and family sent flowers, but they definitely didn’t want to talk about it. They were embarrassed by my sadness and I was alone with my loss.  Some friendships were just never the same…

I’ve also been lonely, in a new town, with two young daughters and 6 week old twins and been told I have thyroid cancer.  After my thyroid was removed it was found to be pre-malignant.  But I will never forget how scared I was and how much I needed a friend….

I’ve also lost dear relatives and friends, one of them being my daughter’s 10-year old friend Lindsay.   There is not word to explain the loss of a child.  I’ve also had countless loved ones fight cancer.  They’ve felt frightened, and I’ve felt inadequate.

All these experiences have brought me to this place.  And it’s because my best friend and husband, and four wonderful daughters gave me their unconditional support, that my dream to help brighten lives, one friend at a time, became reality in September of 2003.

I don’t believe in coincidences.  Whether it was ‘stumbling’ into Nancy Winternight’s web site and falling in love with her beautiful healing angels or my Uncle leaving me some money when funding was the obstacle.  When one door closed, another door always opened.

My hope is that Healing Baskets will give you something, whether gifts, words or just courage to reach out, so that you won’t miss the opportunity to make a difference in someone’s life when they need it most.

We welcome your feedback – your ideas, thoughts, and words of wisdom. Email us at customerservice@healingbaskets.com.

Brightening lives, one friend at a time,

Caroline Cheshire

Founder, Healing Baskets

Alone amidst the rush of modern life

Have you ever felt lonely?

Isn’t it interesting, that you don’t even have to be alone to feel lonely?   That you can be lonely even if you are in a relationship.  If someone doesn’t listen to you, or value your ideas… it makes you feel alone.   I also see an increasing amount of friends only concerned about themselves and their close families.    They think they are protecting them from the outside world when for personal growth they should be embracing it.  It’s not good for us, our families or the community.  We can learn so much from others.   From how to have successful friendships,  which are often like successful marriages ~ hard work.  To opening our minds and respectfully accepting other people’s views and ideas.  Wouldn’t that make for a more peaceful world?  A more respectful world.  Anyway I really enjoyed this article and hope you do too.

“There is a thread of loneliness running through the fabric of American life. Dr. Robert Weiss, a sociologist who has studied the causes and effects of loneliness, says it is “more common than colds in winter.” One study found that one in nine American adults, and one in four unmarried adults felt “very lonely.”

Why are we, a nation of people living side by side often in crowded locales, lonely? The source may lie in the values of our modern culture. Human beings need to form attachments to other human beings. One fundamental essential is the need for an emotional partner, a “significant other.” But this need is often hard to fill in a culture that doesn’t value marriage, committed relationships, or even emotional intimacy.

We need other kinds of attachments as well. We need friends, people who value us as individuals, and who want to spend time with us. Here again, our culture is often out of sync with our basic human needs. We may be in communities where people are valued only if they meet shallow cultural ideals of physical beauty and financial success. And, no one seems to have enough time to give to anyone else. So, we remain lonely.


Another reason for our loneliness is that we have the basic need to be part of a stable community. But, communities today are often in a constant state of change, shifting with the economy and a mobile population.

What are the negative effects of our cultural loneliness? Unhappiness, tension, anxiety, frustration, discontent, and a sense of not being connected to others. There is a physical impact as well: studies indicate that lonely people may have impaired immune-system functions, and are more vulnerable to colds and illness.

To overcome the loneliness of our culture, each of us needs to act in some counter-cultural ways. We need to reach out to become friends with our neighbors and acquaintances, to spend time getting to know them. We need to repair and maintain our close relationships and commit to keeping them healthy and to find ways to help others in our communities.

Finally, we need to be active participants in building communities that warmly welcome and stay connected to the people who live in them.”

Article by ~ Susan Britt


It’s The Little Things…

In the chapel at our hospice house, where I volunteer one morning a week, there are three little straw baskets.  Each hold a simple knitted square measuring about 6 inches squared with three separate designs.  A heart, a cross, and the star of David.  I’ve never met the ladies who knit these squares.  But I have seen people leave holding one.  I don’t know who knits them.  I only hope that these anonymous knitters realise how comforting it is for a visitor to say a prayer to whoever their God is, and leave with one as a momento of a passing.  It’s only a simple piece of knitting.   But don’t the simple things tell their own stories?  What bought this person to be knitting squares for hospice?   Perhaps they lost a loved one there?  Why do they knit?  Perhaps they are housebound of disabled themselves.  

This wonderful quote sums up how those little squares are making difference to lives….

“Knitting may not, on the surface, seem relevant to engines that run the world, but at its essence, it is actually quite vital. For knitting, which can express so many emotions, most often expresses love. And when all else is lost , LOVE is what most often stays with us.” Melanie Falick, Lit. 2002.

Thanking all those knitters who create little squares of love for those who need them. Because LOVE is the real engine that runs the world.  Without it, we are all lost.

Divorce lawyers, attorneys and mediators. Lend me your ears. I come to bury your insensitivity – not to praise you!

Not everyone can be a lawyer but not everyone can be a therapist either.  We all have our place in the food chain.  But I would say…times are a changing.  Therapists need to be more business savvy and lawyers  need to work on a more sensitive approach….

1.  Remember you are touching lives when people are at their most hurt and vulnerable.   They are feeling unloved, angry, and often victimized.   They are paying you top dollar for your professional services.  Your job is therefore make them feel as though you actually care about them as whole people. 

2.  Is enough ever enough?  Yes.  You know when you have enough cases.  It’s ok to say no and turn cases down rather than hurt the ones you have by doing a bad/rushed job. 

People know when they are being ‘juggled’.  You looking at my file ‘over the weekend’ doesn’t make me feel good – please never say that.  It just means I’m not important enough to fit into your day job.

 3.  Be professional at all times.   Always and I mean ALWAYS return phonecalls and emails when you say you will.  It is 100% not acceptable to miss a deadline.

Being ‘stuck in court’ working someone elses case is no excuse.  It means you ‘don’t have time for me’.     Have your assistant return the phone call or email on your behalf.

4.  Remain respectful at all times.  It isn’t your job to agree that the hurt parties partner is a vindictive bastard.    THEY  have the right to own those feelings.  You should not agree with them.  Remain a neutral calming  force. 

5.  Ask about how they are doing.  Ask about their health.  Offer them refreshments.  Suggest a physical if they complain of not being able to eat or sleep.   This sort of stress can be a killer.     I have known someone have a stroke on the day the divorce came through.   Ask about the children.  Keep a list of good local therapists in case your client is ready for one. 

6.  Be ready when the divorce comes through to thank your client for entrusting you to handle their divorce.  Send them a small gift – perhaps your favorite book with a personal note.  This personal touch shows that you really cared.  That they weren’t just a number.

If all the of the above gives you the willies – think ‘referrals’!  You treat  people right and they will tell their friends….

What People Talk About Before They Die

This article was written by Kerry Egan, Specail to CNN. Editor’s Note: Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain in Massachusetts and the author of “Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago.” Sometimes things just need to be shared. And this is one of them. Thank you Kerry.

As a divinity school student, I had just started working as a student chaplain at a cancer hospital when my professor asked me about my work. I was 26 years old and still learning what a chaplain did.

“I talk to the patients,” I told him.

“You talk to patients? And tell me, what do people who are sick and dying talk to the student chaplain about?” he asked.

I had never considered the question before. “Well,” I responded slowly, “Mostly we talk about their families.”

“Do you talk about God?

“Umm, not usually.”

“Or their religion?”

“Not so much.”

“The meaning of their lives?”


“And prayer? Do you lead them in prayer? Or ritual?”

“Well,” I hesitated. “Sometimes. But not usually, not really.”

I felt derision creeping into the professor’s voice. “So you just visit people and talk about their families?”

“Well, they talk. I mostly listen.”

“Huh.” He leaned back in his chair.

A week later, in the middle of a lecture in this professor’s packed class, he started to tell a story about a student he once met who was a chaplain intern at a hospital.

“And I asked her, ‘What exactly do you do as a chaplain?’ And she replied, ‘Well, I talk to people about their families.’” He paused for effect. “And that was this student’s understanding of faith! That was as deep as this person’s spiritual life went! Talking about other people’s families!”

The students laughed at the shallowness of the silly student. The professor was on a roll.

“And I thought to myself,” he continued, “that if I was ever sick in the hospital, if I was ever dying, that the last person I would ever want to see is some Harvard Divinity School student chaplain wanting to talk to me about my family.”

My body went numb with shame. At the time I thought that maybe, if I was a better chaplain, I would know how to talk to people about big spiritual questions. Maybe if dying people met with a good, experienced chaplain they would talk about God, I thought.

Today, 13 years later, I am a hospice chaplain. I visit people who are dying – in their homes, in hospitals, in nursing homes. And if you were to ask me the same question – What do people who are sick and dying talk about with the chaplain? – I, without hesitation or uncertainty, would give you the same answer. Mostly, they talk about their families: about their mothers and fathers, their sons and daughters.

They talk about the love they felt, and the love they gave. Often they talk about love they did not receive, or the love they did not know how to offer, the love they withheld, or maybe never felt for the ones they should have loved unconditionally.

They talk about how they learned what love is, and what it is not. And sometimes, when they are actively dying, fluid gurgling in their throats, they reach their hands out to things I cannot see and they call out to their parents: Mama, Daddy, Mother.

What I did not understand when I was a student then, and what I would explain to that professor now, is that people talk to the chaplain about their families because that is how we talk about God. That is how we talk about the meaning of our lives. That is how we talk about the big spiritual questions of human existence.

We don’t live our lives in our heads, in theology and theories. We live our lives in our families: the families we are born into, the families we create, the families we make through the people we choose as friends.

This is where we create our lives, this is where we find meaning, this is where our purpose becomes clear.

Family is where we first experience love and where we first give it. It’s probably the first place we’ve been hurt by someone we love, and hopefully the place we learn that love can overcome even the most painful rejection.

This crucible of love is where we start to ask those big spiritual questions, and ultimately where they end.

I have seen such expressions of love: A husband gently washing his wife’s face with a cool washcloth, cupping the back of her bald head in his hand to get to the nape of her neck, because she is too weak to lift it from the pillow. A daughter spooning pudding into the mouth of her mother, a woman who has not recognized her for years.

A wife arranging the pillow under the head of her husband’s no-longer-breathing body as she helps the undertaker lift him onto the waiting stretcher.

We don’t learn the meaning of our lives by discussing it. It’s not to be found in books or lecture halls or even churches or synagogues or mosques. It’s discovered through these actions of love.

If God is love, and we believe that to be true, then we learn about God when we learn about love. The first, and usually the last, classroom of love is the family.

Sometimes that love is not only imperfect, it seems to be missing entirely. Monstrous things can happen in families. Too often, more often than I want to believe possible, patients tell me what it feels like when the person you love beats you or rapes you. They tell me what it feels like to know that you are utterly unwanted by your parents. They tell me what it feels like to be the target of someone’s rage. They tell me what it feels like to know that you abandoned your children, or that your drinking destroyed your family, or that you failed to care for those who needed you.

Even in these cases, I am amazed at the strength of the human soul. People who did not know love in their families know that they should have been loved. They somehow know what was missing, and what they deserved as children and adults.

When the love is imperfect, or a family is destructive, something else can be learned: forgiveness. The spiritual work of being human is learning how to love and how to forgive.

We don’t have to use words of theology to talk about God; people who are close to death almost never do. We should learn from those who are dying that the best way to teach our children about God is by loving each other wholly and forgiving each other fully – just as each of us longs to be loved and forgiven by our mothers and fathers, sons and daughters.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Kerry Egan.

The Editors – CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Death • My Faith

Firstly, I’m sorry I have been remiss in writing our blog!

I’m also a teensy bit embarrassed when I re-read some of my old posts… They are very personal and not very relevant to buying one of our baskets. The are more about mothering four girls than sourcing and designing the more heartfelt gifts and baskets on the market…

The end of 2012 proved to be quite a challenge which ended with a home and office move in December of all months! But you know how they say, ‘it’s meant to be’. Well in this case it certainly was. All our new digs are SO much nicer! When the opportunites arose, we chose to take them and have not looked back. From a one window basement office we now look through huge glass windows onto a beautiful pond surrounded by trees. From a home with lots of upkeep we now enjoy little yard work.

Now that we are settled again, this year I plan to focus more on the relevant issues, which are also deeply personal. Issues of hurt. Issues of comfort. Issues on how to move on from, or learn to live with, a significant hurt. Issues of what to say. What not to say. And how we can REALLY help.

Wishing everyone a belated but happy new year.

Thanks for reading our blog. I’m back. Revitalized and will see you back here regularly in 2012!

Sad for a moment…but the image stayed with me

Our daughter is 19.  She’s interning in LA for the summer.  She’s just out of a year long relationship which broke her heart.

Getting her and keeping her in LA was a lot of work, and emptied our bank account.  But we justified it all by deciding this was the summer she should ‘grow’ as a person and citizen of the world.  To touch, to smell,  to hear, and see new things for the first time.  For her to stand on her own two feet and get to know herself.  To learn that ‘she’ and only ‘she’ can be responsible for true happiness.  Not a boyfriend.  Not a job.  Not how much money she hopes to earn.

 “I saw something sad today Mom” she said.  “I saw a hooker outside Subway and she looked about 70”.  I asked her if she was sure.  The plastic thigh boots and matted blonde hair divided by a 6 inch black stripe suggested she was right.  She was sad – for a minute.  To her it was like watching a scene from a TV show.   That scene was quickly replaced with the next scene and life moved on in an instant.  Her sandwich was ready and she was eager to get back to work.

Sad to her for a moment?  To me,  tragic.  Heart breaking.  Frustrating.  Disturbing.   The image stays with me…

I see the prostitute.  And my mind wonders…  Is the 70 year old really a tired, abused 50?  Did she feed her children breakfast this morning?  Or were her children taken away from her?   What and when was her last meal?  I try not to imagine the stench when she peels off her plastic boots after a hard days work.  Is every dry line on her face a testament to every bruise, every tear, every thrown insult.   Does she take drugs?  Does she have a mental health issue that was never disagnosed or treated?  Does anyone care about her?   Does she ever laugh?    Does insist her customers wear condoms or is it too late and it doesn’t matter anymore.   Does she sleep well.  Does she dream?  The image of her stays with me for days.

So, where was I at 19?  In exactly the same place as my daughter.  Living in a world of ‘self’.  A world that was safe.  A world that revolved around me, and the instant gratification of the here and now. 

I realize there is plenty of time for her to see the world for how it really is.   Perhaps there is even such a thing as knowing and feeling too much.

Let her be young and innocent for as long as she can.  Because once your eyes are opened from your ‘own’ world to the ‘real’ world it changes.  You have to live with guilt.   Guilt that you were one of the lucky ones.  That you were born to good parents that loved you.  That your circumstances gave you every chance of ‘making it’.  And guilt that says even knowing this – you can’t help every person and you can’t ‘fix’ the sad, and poor and lonely.   

Peace comes with living the best life you can and being the best person you can be.  A life whereby you look that prostitute in the eye and say ‘good morning’.   You don’t look away.   You treat every living person with respect and kindness.    

They say youth is wasted on the young.   Because if we were young again with all our knowledge, what a life we could have.   But would our knowledge have changed the life of this prostitute?  Probably not.

So my darling daughter enjoy being young and guilt free while you can, and always live your best life.

‘When I Was A Girl’ No Longer Has Any Relevance To Today’s Parenting

What happened to the days of our childhood when we cycled everywhere, and played unsupervised without cell phones?  When the most trouble we could get into was getting our clothes dirty and being home late for the family dinner. 

Why are so many teenage girls suffering from anxiety and depression?  Why can we no longer draw on our own experiences as children to guide our own children through their adolescent years?   Because the majority of kids do not have unscheduled play time.  Because the majority of kids do not eat with their families. 

It was something that my 16 year-old daughter said to me that made me finally stop comparing my own childhood with what was lacking in hers? 

I had been asking my daughter why she hadn’t greeted a girl in her grade that had been next to her in a line.  I knew the kid’s mother well, and the girls were in the same grade in the same small High School.  I watched her stance change and she became anxious as I repeated the same old observation.  “I understand she is in the so-called ‘popular crowd’, but why can’t you be more friendly?  What’s the worst thing that could happen if you said hello?” She looked at me with big sad eyes and quietly sighed “Mom you just don’t understand”. 

What did she mean?  I’m the cool Mom of four girls who thinks that she understands everything.  I let her have a purple streak in her hair to make her feel good about herself and bought her floral Doc Martens!  I invite her friends over on a regular basis.  I thought I totally got it with bells on.  Wasn’t I just teaching basic politeness? But it wasn’t until I attended a talk by Elizabeth Englander – top doctor and specialist in kid stuff to do with the internet, Facebook, social networking etc etc.

The talk was called “Helping Your Child Achieve Social Success In School and Online” and it started well for me.  ‘Talk to your kids’ – check.  ‘Spend time with your kids (more important than any basketball game or trumpet class)’ – check.   ‘No kid under 13 should have a Facebook account – it’s breaking the law’ – check.  ‘Monitoring Facebook accounts etc is not snooping – you are teaching them that EVERY thing they post is public and there is no such thing as privacy’ – check.  At this point I’m feeling rather smug and hope that all the parents who think that having their kids’ password infringes on their privacy are finally getting the message. 

Then Elizabeth explained how we need to understand that our children’s childhood IS TOTALLY different than when we were children.  And we cannot and should not try to compare them.

But what is responsible for this total change?  The answer has to be technology.  It happened so fast!  One day we got a cell phone, the next our kids were  needing to be on-line, attached 24/7 to some electronic device for fear of what?  Missing something?  We have become voyeurs.  Needing to constantly be looking at other people’s everyday lives which only results in us being less satisfied with our own.    We read about other people’s trips, children’s achievements, and the parties/weddings they attended that we weren’t invited to. 

All of the above are resulting in our children not being able to handle many social situations.  The one that is particularly damaging is being unable to handle ‘resolution’.  In OUR day when we had a ‘tiff’ with a friend during an unsupervised playdate we usually figured it out before we went home at the end of the day.  By the next day it was forgotten.  Elizabeth explained the harrowing reality of today, especially with girls.   To start with they rarely play unsupervised and in their ‘spare’ time, so a ‘tiff’ will usually arise at school.  The hurt party will typically go home and tweet her friends about her unfair treatment, or her annoyance that someone has talked to her boyfriend or copied her hairstyle.   She will then go on Facebook and rant a bit resulting in others joining in and fanning the flames.  By the morning the ‘tiff’ is well underway with many more people involved.  This can go on for days until some other drama replaces this one.   Our children are simply not in a position to learn face-to-face, one on one, how to resolve personal issues on their own in a timely manner. 

For the first time I realized that my daughter saying ‘hello’ to the cool kid, is enough to put her on the cool kids radar…Being on that radar could quite possibly result in a Facebook posting or Twitter message about her.  Which may result in several responses, which could result in looks and sniggers at school the next day, which would definitely result in increased anxiety.  The worst thing that could happen is not that they will ignore you.  It’s that they will notice you.  You will be perceived as trying to suck up to the cool crowd.  And ‘who do you think you are? ’  Pretty devastating stuff to a shy 16 year-old.  No wonder she won’t even make eye contact with those she perceives as the cool kids.  They yield an incredible amount of power. 

I felt sick that I had been pestering her to get in their face and be friendly.  Because what could be wrong with that?  Everything in today’s world could be wrong with that.

Bad news, parents.  Elizabeth tells us that the only way they are going to learn about resolving disagreements is from us.  We need to ask our kids about their day.  About their dramas.  About postings that YOU have seen on their Facebook pages.  YEs, their Facebook page is a window into their lives but remember you can only view through a one way mirror.  Never be tempted to comment.  Just be grateful that you can see.

And ‘if’ our perfect daughters were to ‘add’ to a mean Facebook posting we need to educate them WHY it isn’t acceptable.   And ‘when’ our kids come home from a stressful day of navigating all of this they need to enter a calm and happy home, because to many of our kids, school is a battleground.  Our kids need a place to retreat to for peace and support.  Letting our kids scream at each other, swear at each other or you, or eye roll at each other isn’t teaching them independence or letting them ‘express themselves’.  It’s teaching them that these family-rage behaviors are acceptable when they are not.  The same goes for how WE treat our partners and our children.    Our children are watching and learning from us.

 Please check out Elizabeth Englander’s web site www.elizabethenglander.com   She’s done all the years of research, the focus groups and all the number crunching.  We just have to put into action the wonderful gems she has uncovered.  

By keeping an open mind and with her help we have the best chance of navigating through the often-painful years of adolescence, which are so totally different from our own.