Adventures of the Heart
Mary Zalmanek
Issue 18 - Sustaining Tradtions


"Tradition simply means that we need to end what began well and
continue what is worth continuing."
-- Jose Bergamin


"Over the river and through the wood,
To grandfather's house we go,
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh..."

Hold your horses! In 1844 when Lydia Maria Child wrote this
song, horse-drawn transportation was a necessity. (And, yes, the
original paid homage to grandfather instead of grandmother.)
We've evolved from the horse and buggy to horse-powered engines,
but we still hang on to other old-fashioned traditions. Some
are worth continuing. But sometimes change is welcome.

Marylin was raised in a Brethren family. Their faith emphasizes
compassion, peacemaking and simplicity. When the 13 cousins grew
into adulthood, they wanted to continue their tradition of
gathering and giving at Christmas time, but they wanted to end
the exchange of personal gifts. They decided to give to charity.

At their annual Christmas party, the "dirty Santa" gift exchange
began as usual. People could "steal" a gift previously opened or
select an unopened one. Gifts, generally cash donations, would
be given to favorite charities in the recipient's name.

One of the cousins brought six dozen eggs to take to a homeless
shelter. The eggs were placed on the floor near a tree. As the
evening progressed, some of the children started dancing. A
5-year-old girl lost her balance and fell onto the eggs. That
put an end to perishable food gifts.

The cousins continued their tradition. Most support the Heifer
Project ( whose mission is to work with
communities to end hunger and poverty and to care for the earth.
The original Heifer Project was established to rebuild villages
and farms after World War II. Young men from pacifist religious
groups took calves, lambs, chicken, seed and fertilizer to war-
torn communities. Today the project has been expanded to meet
these needs anywhere in the world by raising funds to buy self-
sustaining produce and farm supplies.


While visiting Uganda, two women from Boulder, Colorado were
struck by the extreme poverty and impressed by the beautiful
beads the Ugandan woman made. They started a non-profit called
Bead for Life to help impoverished Africans earn a living.
People in North America support the cause by hosting bead
parties. All proceeds are returned to the Bead for Life program.

My friend Kelly, a tiny woman with a huge heart, read about this
program. She ordered a box of beaded jewelry and invited her
friends for a pre-Christmas party. The beads are made of
recycled paper. Her guests descended on the beads like bees on
honey. With each purchase, we thought of two women: the woman
who will wear this work of art around her neck or on her wrist,
and the woman whose skillful hands made the beads - the woman
whose life has been changed forever.

Many of the women enrolled in the program are HIV positive.
Before she was enrolled in the Bead for Life program, one of the
women qualified for free medication, but she didn't take it
because it increased her appetite. She couldn't afford to buy
additional food. Now, not only can this woman feed herself and
her family, she has saved enough to buy a small home.

If you need a dose of inspiration and gratitude, go to the Bead
for Life website (


In the last newsletter I asked for ideas of Mexican-themed items
romance guru Leon Scott Baxter could put in a piñata for his
wife, Mary. This was the third of three surprises he'd planned
throughout the year to revisit their youth. Thanks to everyone
who gave such great suggestions.

Here's the end result. When Mary came home, Leon had margaritas
with fruit and little umbrellas in them. He put sombreros on
both of them. Mexican music filled the house. He gave her a
handmade card. There was a fire in the fireplace. Together they
made the tacos they used to make years ago. Then, he surprised
her with the piñata in the backyard.

It was filled with massage oils, the sugar-free chocolates
someone recommended, expired condoms (really from their youth),
a few other things and a 15-second flip book he made. Check out
the company that creates the flip books at
It's a great idea for a "portable 15-second movie" that can be
filled with romance and love.

For dessert they ate cookies and ice cream in front of the fire
and watched LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE. Mary said it was just what
she needed. Leon gave her a copy of my newsletter asking for
help. She thought it was so cool that so many were willing to
contribute. She saved the newsletter for memory sake.


THE ART OF THE SPARK makes a great gift for all those lovers on
your list. One of the 12 habits to inspire romantic adventures
is "Practice Your Own Romantic Traditions." There are several
stories to spark creativity. If that doesn't do it, there are 25
suggestions based on the love languages of each partner.


Thursday, January 10

Friday, January 18

Saturday, February 9, 1:00
Austin Bluffs & Beverly (in the old Cub Foods building)
Open to the public.


My article entitled "Rose Petals in the Toilet Bowl and Other
Ways to Cherish Your Ailing Spouse" will be in the January/
February issue of ME*, THE MAGAZINE FOR 40+ WOMEN. The article
will be posted on their website by January 1. If you want me to
send you the link when it goes up, let me know. Me* was created
by Jeanie Linders, the writer and producer of Menopause The

By the way, if you haven't seen Menopause The Musical, make it
priority in 2008.


You can host an ART OF THE SPARK workshop in your home. If at
least 5 couples attend, the cost is $30 per couple, which
includes 1 copy of THE ART OF THE SPARK, a $16.95 value. The
hosting couple attends at no cost and receives a free book.
Scheduling is a mutually agreed upon time. Please plan for
2 ? hours.

Additional sessions can be scheduled at $20 per couple for 5
couples if you decide you want more time. Session One covers
the basics. In the second session we plan a customized
adventure. My husband often comes with me so we can break into
two groups and plan surprises for our partners.


If you enjoyed this free e-zine, please forward it to friends.

I care about people and how they celebrate. If you have any
stories you'd like to share with others, please send them to me
at We can all learn from each

Wishing you a life of romantic adventure,
Mary Zalmanek

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