Reclaiming Christmas

Nativity SceneThe terminology is confusing to me — Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday. Really? I remember when “Black Friday” was simply known as…well, the day after Thanksgiving. I’m dating myself, but I long for the simplicity of the day after Thanksgiving with its lingering aromas and cold turkey with cranberry sandwiches. I have no desire to participate in the midnight madness, regardless of the huge amounts of money I can save. And do we really need to be bombarded with retail sales statistics as though the entire U.S. economy is teetering on the brink of disaster if we don’t frantically rush to the mall?

I grew up in rural Idaho, the daughter of a small business owner. The Larsen family’s economy was based on the success of the potato farmers in our area. I understand the importance of shopping and the energy of money. And frankly, I do my fair share to keep our economy humming. I’ve simply decided to personally stimulate the economy from mid-January through mid-November. The holiday season should be about something different, something more.

Reclaim Christmas. Yes, that’s what I intend to do. The seed of this desire was planted last year, Christmas of 2011. I moved to Los Altos, California in September of 2011 to be with my daughter Sharlie, her husband Ryan and their four-year-old son, Harrison. Sharlie, who has bravely battled Cystic Fibrosis all her life, had been accepted by the heart/lung transplant team at Stanford University. One of the many requirements was that she have two caretakers. I was honored to assume the role, although — as is usually the case when we attempt to serve — I constantly found myself on the receiving end of care, love and joy.

We were told the average wait was around two months so it didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t be home for Christmas. The days and weeks passed. Sharlie grew weaker as she waited for her new organs. Around Thanksgiving it became clear we might not be home in San Diego for Christmas. When I first had this thought, a wave of panic hit me. How would we do it? What would Christmas be like without all the trappings and trimmings that overflow my Christmas storage closet? And what would I purchase for everyone? Even though Sharlie was the recipient of an outpouring of generosity through numerous fund-raising efforts, we were watching our funds carefully; not knowing how much would be needed to cover Sharlie’s medical expenses.

We simplified. Peace and Joy are words used to describe the season…and that’s exactly what I felt. Peace! Joy! It was glorious. Because we were renting and only had a small space for a tree, Ryan, Shar and Harrison found a perfect three-footer. We draped one string of lights on it and Sharlie and I circled it with chains we fashioned from ribbon. Harrison and I walked hand-in-hand, scouring our neighborhood gathering clumps of red berries and a few pine cones that he gently placed on the branches. A rough-hewn star adorned the top of our little tree. During a weekend trip with my husband Ric to the quaint community of Half Moon Bay, I found a charming, wooden nativity set that put the final, most important component on our decor.

My very favorite shop in Los Altos is a second-hand store run by volunteers of the American Cancer Society. It became my personal treasure trove – and I was able to find unique, gently worn gifts for my family and friends — a crystal bell, a set of antique candlesticks, a silver teapot, a decorative serving bowl, a Christmas candy plate. I put a great deal of thought and love (polishing the silver!) and very little money into my purchases and somehow that made them more special, more significant.

Family and friends came from all over to visit and it meant the world to us. We played games, put together puzzles and drove around looking at all the twinkling lights. We hosted a mini Christmas Pageant in our home for Harrison’s pre-school class. My sister Sydney sent us a beautiful Christmas CD and the music lifted us. We baked goodies, took long, slow walks and cherished our time together.

Yes, something changed for me last Christmas. No one said it, but we all knew that time was precious and the future uncertain. My prayers became more poignant, more urgent. Would this be the last Christmas I’d share with my precious daughter?

On February 16th, 2012, Sharlie received her transplant and her comeback has been astonishing. She’s relishing every moment of this Christmas season — her first with her new heart and lungs. She no longer needs caretakers…in fact, she constantly seems to be doing for others — and she has the energy and determination to fulfill all her dreams. She is grateful for every beat of her heart and for every breath she takes. Sharlie is loving her life and living it to its fullest. When I spoke to her today she sounded breathless…but it was from the excitement of decorating their home and not from exhaustion. What a gift!

We all returned home a few months ago and life — beautiful LIFE! — is pretty much back to normal. But not really. A change has settled on my heart. From now on, Christmas is going to be about spending more time than money. It’s going to be about creating memories and keeping it simple and beautiful. Around our home there’s going to be more music, more contemplation, more companionship. There’s going to be less consumerism and more celebration. The birth of the Christ Child, the Savior of the world is taking center stage. And there’s going to be love — pure love. Just today I learned my grandchildren — instead of purchasing gifts — are going to write letters, poems or draw pictures for each other. That made me smile. Apparently, the change in my heart is hereditary, being felt by my children and their children.

Today I decorated our home. Many of my dozens of containers filled with decorations will stay in the closet this year. Our tree is covered with berries and there is a simple, wooden Nativity Set on the table in front of our picture window. I shed a few tears as I tenderly dusted it and carefully placed it on a bed of straw. It is — and always will be — a reminder that Christmas, if I reclaim it, is a time of peace, of joy — of miracles.

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USANA Video Podcast — On Gratitude

Larsen Global Video Podcast

Our Thanksgiving Message

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone –

I’ve heard it said: “If you’ve forgotten the language of gratitude…you’ll never be on speaking terms with happiness.”

It’s true! Gratitude is a way for us to appreciate and acknowledge what we have rather than always searching for that elusive “something” we hope will make us happier. Gratitude is an attitude and this mental state can grow stronger with daily practice.

Here are five ways that will help us cultivate gratitude…with appreciation from the Harvard Health Publications:

Write a thank-you note. Send it, or better yet, deliver and read it in person if possible. Once in awhile, write one to yourself.

Keep a gratitude journal. Write down thoughts about the gifts you receive each day.

Count your blessings. Pick a time each week to contemplate your blessings. Sometimes it helps to pick a number — such as three to five things — that you will identify each week.

Pray. Just try it and see.

Meditate. Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on the present moment without judgment. Try just saying “thank you” over and over again.

Suggested Reading: Thanks! How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier by Robert Emmons

I’m grateful to each of you. Thank you for enriching my life and have a wonderful holiday.

Warmly,

Collette

You can watch the video podcast below by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to view the podcast with your web browser).

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

 

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USANA Convention Tote Bag Winner plus Fortune 25 Pictures from Paris

Thanks for all the comments on the last post. It looks like everyone had a great time at convention. We picked a random comment number from all the responses, and the winner of the USANA tote bag is Shay Stockdill. Shay wrote:

Every convention is amazing and blows me away, but OMGoodness, there are not words to describe this year. Rebranding, personalization, iPADs, True Health Assessment, Go Nuts & Berries and BiOmega Jr. Did I mention Dr. Oz and having my picture made with him (a great picture, if I do say so myself!). Dr. Wentz always pushing the edge of health and nutrition, continuing to research and provide information and products to enable his USANA to love life and live it. I can’t wait to hear what USANA is going to do to revolutionize iodine supplementation.

This is supposed to be short, so I guess I’ll quit with just ONE more comment — I was sooooooo thrilled to see Sharlie on stage. I have shared her story on Facebook and with everyone I come in touch with, asking for their prayers for Sharlie and family. Tears were flowing as Collette, Zak and Sharlie closed the convention. I love my USANA family.

Shay, congratulations, and please email us your address and we’ll get the tote sent out to you right away.

Collette, Zachary, and Sharlie have spent the last couple of weeks in Paris, France with other members of USANA’s Fortune 25. From the looks of it, they had an amazing time. Sharlie had never been to Europe because she wasn’t able to handle such a long flight, so it has been another dream come true for her to join Collette for a Parisian vacation.

It has been a lot of fun to follow along on their adventure through Instagram, and we wanted to share some of our favorite pictures from Paris with all of you, so grab a croissant and enjoy…

Sharlie at the Louvre

Sharlie at the Louvre

Hot Cocoa and Crème Brûlée

Hot Cocoa and Crème Brûlée

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Collette and Sharlie at the Eiffel Tower

Collette and Sharlie at the Eiffel Tower

Collette, Sharlie, and Zak

Collette, Sharlie, and Zak

Paris Skyline

Parisian Skyline

Headed to the top of the Eiffel Tower

Headed to the top of the Eiffel Tower

Heading to the top of the Eiffel Tower (they took the stairs)

Sharlie, running to the top of the Eiffel Tower (she took the stairs)

Window Shopping in Paris

Window Shopping in Paris

Eiffel Tower at Night

Eiffel Tower at Night

Arc de Triomphe Detail

Arc de Triomphe Detail

Collette and Sharlie

Collette and Sharlie

Zak and Collette in the catacombs

Zak and Collette in the catacombs

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USANA Video Podcast Episode 4 — Convention Recap Plus A USANA Tote Bag Giveaway

USANA Video Podcast

Dax and Collette discuss the 2012 USANA Convention

Welcome to our fourth USANA video podcast. In this episode, Collette and her Dax recap USANA’s 2012 International Convention. They discuss their favorite moments of convention, the exciting new products, and the lifetime matching bonus.

As a bonus, we would like to give away a convention-only USANA tote bag. To enter to win the tote, please leave a comment below telling us about your favorite convention announcement. We will pick a random winner next week.

You can watch the video podcast below by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to view the podcast with your web browser).

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

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USANA Video Podcast Episode 3 — All About Sanoviv, Plus Collette and Sharlie’s Top 5 Sanoviv Lifestyle Changes

Sharlie and Collette discuss Sanoviv

Sharlie and Collette discuss Sanoviv

Welcome to our third USANA video podcast. In this episode, Collette and her daughter, Sharlie Kaltenbach, talk about one of their favorite places in the world, Sanoviv Medical Institute. Sanoviv is a beautful, state-of-the-art medical center that offers holistic and integrative health treatments. In this video podcast, Collette and Sharlie discuss their favorite treatments, what makes Sanoviv so special, and how Collette seamlessly integrates Sanoviv and USANA. Plus, Collette and Sharlie give you their top 5 lifestyle changes that they have incorporated into their daily lives after spending time at Sanoviv.

To learn more about Sanoviv, visit them on the web at Sanoviv.com, and to learn more about Collette’s Sanoviv training sessions, call Sanoviv at (801) 954-7600.

You can watch the video podcast below by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to view the podcast with your web browser).

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

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USANA Convention 2012 Resource Guide (plus our final convention contest winner)

We are less than two weeks away from USANA’s 2012 International Convention and we are getting excited for a great event. We are looking forward to seeing so many of you at this special 20th anniversary celebration.

We have compiled useful links and resources that will help you stay on top of all of the events, surprises and announcements from this year’s convention. We hope that you find it convenient to have this information located in one place.

USANA’s 2012 Convention Website

List of Convention Speakers

Convention Schedule

Convention Schedule for the Training Stages

USANA Champions For Change 5K Registration

Kathleen Rockney’s Convention Travel Tips

3 Reasons You Should Attend USANA’s 2012 Convention (video)

Convention Posts from What’s Up USANA?

Convention 2012 Twitter Feed (#USANA12)

Convention 2012 Facebook Event Page

USANA Social Media Center

And now, to announce the 3rd and final winner of our Countdown to Convention contest. We picked a random winner from everyone who left comments and who shared the update on Facebook. We received 134 entries, and the lucky winner is Marylee LaBaw. Marylee, we are excited to meet with you during convention (or via phone if you are unable to attend convention) for a business strategy session with Collette and Zachary, and with Dax for an online marketing consultation.

For everyone else who entered, thank you. We look forward to seeing you at convention, catching up with old friends and making new ones.

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USANA Video Podcast Episode 2 — Coaching, Part Two

USANA video podcast

Collette Larsen and Ryan Kaltenbach discuss coaching

Welcome to our second USANA video podcast. In this episode, Ryan and Collette continue their discussion on coaching (click here for the first part). What does it take to be a good coach? Do you need a coach? What is the difference between a mentor and a coach, and what are some of the things to look for when considering hiring a coach?

You can watch the video podcast below by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to view the podcast with your web browser).

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

The video looks better in HD (click the gear icon to change the settings), although I can’t guarantee that we’ll look better.

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USANA Video Podcast Episode 1 — Coaching

USANA video podcast

Collette Larsen and Ryan Kaltenbach discuss coaching

We are very excited to announce a new series of USANA video podcasts. These will complement our already popular audio podcasts, and we hope that the videos will offer you even more USANA training, advice, and coaching from 10-Star Diamond USANA distributors, Collette Larsen and Zachary Ross.

In our first video podcast, Ryan and Collette discuss coaching. What does it take to be a good coach? Do you need a coach? What is the difference between a mentor and a coach, and what are some of the things to look for when considering hiring a coach?

You can watch the video podcast below by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to view the podcast with your web browser).

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

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Countdown to USANA’s 2012 Convention Contest Winner #2

We want to thank everyone who entered our Countdown to USANA’s 2012 Convention Contest. So far, we have received 119 entries. We picked a random winner from everyone who left comments, and the lucky winner was number 76, Donna Barnett. Donna, we are excited to meet with you during convention for a business strategy session with Collette and Zachary, and with Dax for an online marketing consultation.

For everyone else who entered, thank you. You will have one more chance to win (look for our last drawing in the first week of August). By leaving a comment on the original post, you are already entered in the next drawing, but keep checking our Facebook page for more chances to win.

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USANA Podcast — Becoming a Director (Featuring Zachary Ross and Tom Vidal)

Rev3

Tom’s custom-built Rev3 refrigerator.

On Episode 10, Zak and USANA Director, Tom Vidal, join Ryan to discuss Tom’s journey with USANA. Tom has built a very solid and consistent business with the help of Zak. Listen as they discuss some tips on building a solid USANA business as he strives to reach the Gold level and beyond.

We hope that you enjoy our podcasts and we would love to hear your thoughts and feedback. If you have any ideas for future episodes of our Larsen Global USANA podcast, we would love to hear them in the comments below. Be sure to take notes and get back to us with your success stories via Twitter (@LarsenGlobal) or Facebook (facebook.com/larsenglobal).

There are a few different ways to listen to our podcasts. We suggest you subscribe to the Larsen Global USANA podcast on iTunes. This will allow you to listen to us from your iPod, iPhone, iTunes, or other device. To subscribe through iTunes, click here, or click the iTunes image below. You can also listen to the podcast by pressing the “play” button below (note: if you are receiving this article as an email subscription, you will need to click here to listen to the podcast with your web browser).

[audio:http://joinlarsenglobal.com/podcast/download.php?filename=2012-06-19_larsen_global_usana_podcast_-_zachary_ross__and__tom_vidal.mp3]

Larsen Global USANA Podcast Subscribe to this podcast with iTunes.

7 comments