Our blog is an invitation, a celebration and a conversation. We invite you to travel behind the scenes as we share stories about our hopes and dreams, our products and passions, and our everyday lives. Celebrate and affirm the best parts of the human spirit. Help us discover what it means to live an inspired life-to learn, laugh, love, grow and make a difference for the world. Join in the conversation. Open the book of your life and share the kinds of things that inspire you.

Entries Tagged as inspirational products

Community Inspired: Ashley Mengoni

by Rochelle · 04.23.2014

I believe that one of the most important things to learn in life is that you can make a difference in your community, no matter where you live. I have seen so many good deeds – people helped, lives improved – because someone cared. ~Rosalynn Carter

Ashley Mengoni saw a need in her community and decided she wanted to help. Ashley is the manager of The Essential Baking Company in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, nestled five minutes north of downtown and three blocks from our Compendium office. 

Inspired by the caffe sospeso (“suspended coffee” in Italian) concept of a “pending” coffee paid for by one customer as an advance donation toward another needy customer, Ashley wanted to implement something similar at the café. She recruited her fiancé Jimmy, and together they went to the hardware store and bought some wooden rods. Jimmy sawed the rods into small rounds, creating 75 tokens that the couple then glazed and painted with hearts and coffee cups. The concept was simple: a charitable customer could purchase a $2.75 token and it would remain in a glass jar near the cash register for anyone in need to inconspicuously use as payment for a cup of coffee. 

Tokens at the Essential Baking Company

The 75 tokens sold out at the café in three days. The suspended coffee concept was so warmly received by the community that Ashley and her team decided to expand it to include bread. One token bought a cup of coffee and two tokens purchased a suspended loaf of freshly baked bread. 

Ashley and Jimmy have made hundreds more tokens in recent months. Impressed by the success of the tokens, The Essential Baking Company expanded the program to their other three cafés in the Seattle area. Ashley also regularly delivers tokens to Mary’s Place and Homeless in Seattle, neighborhood charities that work directly with the homeless.

It never ceases to amaze us the power that one individual has to affect the lives of others. Even if it’s a simple cup of hot coffee and slice of fresh bread, the kindness in the gesture is priceless.  

Ashley Mengoni

Image copyright Rex Hohlbein, Homeless in Seattle.

 

 


» 3 Comment s   Tags: compassion · community · inspirational products

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A Letter-Writing Challenge

by Rochelle · 03.31.2014


“How wonderful it is to be able to write someone a letter! To feel like conveying your thoughts to a person, to sit at your desk and pick up a pen, to put your thoughts into words like this is truly marvelous.”
-Haruki Murakami 

There’s a special thrill that comes when you open your mailbox and, nestled amid the bills and ads, you find a letter addressed to you. The pretty postage stamp; the black time stamp marking the date and location of your sender’s locale—be it far-flung or close to home; the handwriting you instantly recognize as being that of a loved one or friend; the weight of the letter in your palm.

In an effort to promote literacy, creativity, and documenting history, the United States Postal Service has designated April as “National Card and Letter Writing Month.” At Compendium, we’re lucky to spend our days designing and writing greeting cards, books, and gifts that inspire and commemorate life’s important events—and this theme hits close to home for us in the very best way. 

Two companies, Hello!Lucky and Egg Press, are teaming up with a campaign to inspire folks to write 30 letters to 30 different people every day in April. We’re so excited about this idea that many of our employees are taking on the challenge, and we’d like to extend the challenge to you, too! 

 

Looking for ways to have a little fun and make the 30 days fly by successfully? Here are 10 writing ideas to spark your creativity:

1. Thank a teacher—past or present—for the value that education and their teaching has brought to your life (or the life of your child).

2. Write a letter to a senator or member of Congress.

3. Send a letter to a child or teenager who might not have familiarity with traditional mail. Include a self-addressed return envelope and encourage them to write back.

4. Surprise someone who lives with you by sending them a card or letter via post.

5. Recruit friends and mail a stack of cards to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Ask staff to give them to lonely seniors.

6. Honor the memory of someone who has passed away by sending a note of remembrance to their widow, widower, or child letting them know that person is always in your thoughts.

7. Leave a postcard of thanks for your postal carrier.

8. Photo cards are not just for the holidays. Print cards at a local drugstore with a current snapshot from your life. Surprise family members and friends with this personal memento!

9. If you’re unsure about what to say, practice your prettiest handwriting with a poem or quote and send it to someone special.

10. Join a pen pal site online and make a new friend in a country you’ve always been curious about. It could be a wonderful opportunity to practice a foreign language or learn about a new culture.

Will you participate in the 30-day challenge? We’d like to hear about it! Tell us your letter-writing ideas, successes, and stories in the comments below or on Facebook

» 1 Comment   Tags: inspirational products

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Start Something Good

by Meredith · 11.08.2013

When the people who work at Compendium think about what it means to do something good in the world--whether it's a kind word, a small favor, or a selfless act--we believe it creates a ripple. It's an image we're all familiar with--a stone dropped into a still pond that sends out ripples far and wide. But have you ever thought of yourself as the pebble? As the single point of impact that changes everything?

That's what we started thinking about last week when we read this wonderful article at the New York Times. It's all about the phenomenon of people "paying it forward" at coffee shops and fast-food restaurants--an example, one woman says, of "goodness gone viral." All over North America, people at drive-up windows are paying for the people behind them. And the most amazing part is that the recipients of that initial act of kindness often end up paying for the people behind them. Sometimes, a chain gets going that can last for hours. One string of cars lasted for over 200 people. 200. Can you imagine? Each of those people drove away knowing they had done something simple and kind and completely unexpected for a total stranger. That's at least 200 people whose days were made brighter and fuller, just because one person decided to start something good.

So today, or next week, or any time inspiration strikes, why not take this story as a little challenge? As a reminder to do something truly good and utterly out-of-the-blue for a perfect stranger? Then, come back here or join us on Facebook and tell us what happened. You'll feel good and someone else will feel good, but the best part? That's just the beginning!

» 4 Comment s   Tags: inspirational products · encouragement

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ABC Menagerie

by Meredith · 12.09.2011

"Inspiration is everywhere" is something we say often at Compendium. It's a philosophy we live by. The thought always reminds me of children, for whom inspiration truly is everywhere. Children have a gift for finding opportunities wherever they go and special moments in ordinary days. They savor a single cookie, a bright rock, an unexpected feather. They find beauty wherever it lies.

When Compendium's CEO stumbled across artist Elena Targioni's studio while on vacation in Italy, her sculptures awakened in him a child's sense of wonder and delight. And when the rest of us saw her artwork, we had a similar reaction. Everyone wanted to hold Elena's soft and whimsical sculptures. And everyone was curious to know what was in store for these wonderful creatures.

After some long conversations, lots of writing, countless hours of design, and four days of photo shoots...

we created this:

our latest addition to the Compendium Kids line. ABC Menagerie is one of those books that's sure to enchant any child (and plenty of adults, too). Each animal is introduced with whimsical poetry, and pops off the page with personality and vivid texture thanks to the work of talented photographer Hank Drew and his assistant Genevieve Pierson.

Do you know someone who'd like to meet a new friend or two? Maybe a whole menagerie? Would you like to give someone a cheerful reminder of the sense of wonder we can take in the world around us? This book makes a beautiful gift for any child, or for anyone you know with a childlike heart. Ayo the aardvark, Brunhilde the bear, and Chione the camel tell us they can't wait to meet you!

» 4 Comment s   Tags: children's books · gift books · inspirational products

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Reverse Trick-or-Treating

by Meredith · 11.08.2011

Most of us think of Halloween as a holiday for little ones--a day for kids to be enchanted with costumes and flickering candlelight and the prospect of free candy. But here at Compendium, we like to think of it a little differently. We think adults can get in on the fun. And since we're always on the lookout for ways to make each day more festive, we showed up to work last Monday looking like this:

After a morning of work and a potluck lunch, we set out to spread a little seasonal cheer by reverse trick-or-treating--giving away our books and journals to local businesses, pedestrians, neighbors, and passersby. We split up into four groups and headed out with baskets full of bright and inspiring treats to give away. We visited doctors' offices and cafes, retail stores, and banks...

and passed out goodies to cyclists, bus drivers, and people in their cars, waiting for the light to change.

We even tracked down a parking enforcement officer to share a little holiday joy.

Some people giggled and gave us high-fives. Lots of people needed to be convinced that we weren't selling anything. "No," we said, "we're reverse trick-or-treating. These surprises are for you." We got hugs from a stranger who was delighted to be given a gift with no strings attached. One woman from a dentist's office came out to thank us a second time and to tell us how much we'd touched her heart. Two women who had just spent their morning volunteering told us this was proof that the good you give to the world really does come back to you.

We returned to the office with empty baskets and stories to share. And in the spirit of sharing, we're passing this story on to you, along with a challenge to add a little unexpected joy to the world today. Your gesture can be a small one or something more extravagant. We'd love it if you'd share your ideas here. How will you add some joy and unexpected delight to someone's day? What can you do to pass it on?

 

» 2 Comment s   Tags: compassion · gift books · inspirational products · encouragement · friendship · friends and family

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Who is she?

by Meredith · 10.13.2011

You know her. Her spirit is the first thing people notice. Her mind always had a mind of its own. Her heart, though it has sometimes been hurt, bears a strong resemblance to a daffodil: it always flowers again.

We know her, too. She's the sister who follows her heart, the mother who lives such a beautiful example, the friend who's a constant source of inspiration. She's the coworker who brightens everything around her, and the neighbor who always knows when to stop by with a surprise. She's vibrant and spirited; she's brilliant and strong. And when we started thinking about it, we realized there are so many women like her that we set to work on a book that would celebrate and affirm these women and the wonderful things they add to the everyday.

Writer M.H. Clark and designer Heidi Rodriguez created I Am Her with their own favorite women in mind—mothers, sisters, best friends. They wanted the book to feel like a collection of ideas and beautiful things—a scrapbook of poetry, quotations, and images to prompt contemplation, creativity, and growth. It's a book to read, a book to write in, a book to ponder, and a book to share.

We're so excited about this book that we're giving away copies to five lucky winners who tell us who she is, and why she matters so much. Is she traveling the world? Is she making big changes in her life? Is she a bit of a dreamer, a dancer, a truth-teller? Nominate her here on our blog, or on our Facebook page. Just make sure to tell us about her by November 1, 2011 at 11:59 pm PST. Five lucky winners will receive two copies of I Am Her—one to give away to the person they nominate, and one to keep!

» 13 Comment s   Tags: girlfriend · mothers · gift books · inspirational products · friendship · i am her

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Celebrating Compendium Friends & Family

by Dan Zadra · 08.24.2011

A good friend of mine had a dream in which he saw himself as a gently glowing beam of light moving endlessly through a huge crowd. Wherever he went, the light made life brighter and happier for those he happened to touch. It was such a hopeful dream that he eventually decided to adopt that vision as his philosophy of life, and he was never the same again.

What a world this would be if you and I, and the people who live or work down the street, and across the hall, and around the world, suddenly decided to reach out more often and brighten our little corners of the world for friends and family.


That's what Compendium's annual Friends & Family event is all about. First, it's our way of saying a sincere thank you for being an active part of our online community. But it's also our way of inspiring you to reach out and inspire someone else, who in turn will reach out and inspire someone else, and so on down the line from heart to heart.

Think for a moment. Right now, there's a certain someone (or several certain someones) in your circle of friends and family who would welcome a little beam of inspiration, appreciation, or celebration in their world. The right card, book, or message from you--out of the blue--would make their day and light up their life.


What's the "right" card, book, or message for the person you have in mind? Don't worry; you'll know it when you see it. Spend some time on our website and let your heart make the choice. While you're there, enjoy our 30% Friends & Family discount with our compliments, including free ground shipping on orders that total $50 or more with the discount applied. Simply use code thankyou30 during step 2 of the checkout process. You can verify that your code has been applied during step 4.

From all of us here at Compendium, thank you so much for being our customer and friend--and for lighting up your corner of the world.

» 3 Comment s   Tags: love · relationships · inspirational products · encouragement · friendship · friends and family

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Our Inspired Community

by Meredith · 08.16.2011

All of us at Compendium will tell you that the work we do every day is about connecting. It's about creating products that bring people together in times of celebration, times of joy, times of challenge, and in simple, everyday moments. One of the greatest joys in this work is hearing from people who write to tell us how a book or product of ours has made a difference to them.

When Dan Zadra, our founder and senior writer, met Carrie and her daughter Skylar during a book signing at a local store, it was just the beginning of a unique friendship. Carrie and Skylar have been longtime readers of Compendium books, and had plenty of stories to share about the ways they live inspired in their own lives. When Dan found out that Skylar's 13th birthday was coming, he invited Skylar and her mom to the Compendium offices for a celebration. And they came!

We asked Carrie if she'd be willing to write us a blog post for us, and she graciously agreed. Want to share your own story with us about a product you love, or how you live inspired everyday? Feel free to comment below, or on our Facebook page.

Carrie writes:

When my 13-year-old daughter, Skylar, and I recently met Compendium founder, Dan Zadra, at a signing for the 2 book, we were thrilled to share with him how Compendium products have impacted our lives over the years.

Compendium's 5 book and video gave me the courage to move across the country from Cincinatti to Seattle to start a whole new adventure for my family. And the messages of kindness in Compendium's books have inspired Skylar to leave surprises on our neighbor's doorsteps and to hide notes in unexpected places for strangers to find.

After sharing these stories with Dan, he invited Skylar to tour Compendium's headquarters for her birthday so she could meet the creative people who give birth to the products we both love so much.

Our visit was an eye-opener, especially for Skylar. As we walked into Compendium, we were inspired by this place where creativity and collaboration are valued and where you can hold onto childhood whimsy and playfulness even as an adult. We loved how Compendium's space was filled with reminders...

to always celebrate your inner child...

to take your dreams seriously...

that creativity can be a messy process...

that no matter how important you are, making time for others is just as important...

...and to always tend to your soul and to others.

I am so grateful to Compendium for sharing these messages with my daughter as she officially becomes a teenager. Walking into Compendium's office was like walking into one of their books--joyful and inspiring. This experience has made Skylar and me more aware of the messages we send through our words and actions.

Thank you, Compendium folks, for taking the time to invite us into your world.

» 2 Comment s   Tags: relationships · the 5 book · the 2 book · inspirational products · friendship

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Sharing Joy

by Meredith · 06.29.2011

Here at Compendium, the arrival of a new book is always a reason to celebrate. After weeks of meetings and conversations, planning and writing, drawing and designing, revision and proofreading, we send our book off to be printed. And we wait. And then, one day we receive an unassuming brown package in the mail. Inside? We find something like this:

Joy is a book we've been wanting to make for a long time. It's vibrant and buoyant and full of life. And it's impossible to read from cover to cover without feeling a little brighter and a little more excited about the possibilities in each day. As Joy says on the jacket, if we want joy to be the story of our years, joy must be the story of our days. Joy must be a daily choice, a habit, a promise we make to ourselves. Joy must be the way we travel.

And now, we want to share Joy with you! We're giving away ten copies of Joy to ten readers who share with us something they do to find joy in the everyday. Post a comment to our Facebook page, or post a comment here.

We'll choose 10 winners at random from those who respond by Friday, July 8 at 11:59 pm PST. So join us in spreading joy everyday. Tell us where you find joy, happiness, and spark in your life, and we'll enter you to win!

» 21 Comment s   Tags: gift books · inspirational products · encouragement · friendship

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Mapping Your Dreams

by Meredith · 06.16.2011

All of us who work at Compendium love to receive emails and messages from people who tell us how our books have encouraged them to try something new, think more positively, or live a more inspired life. Sometimes, we're so caught up in reading our mail that we forget about the similar stories we have right in our own office. Today, we're bringing you a guest blog post from Carin, our sales director, whose story about the 5 book is one we knew we had to share.

***

Carin writes:

Goal-setting is powerful. We all know that to be true. But two years ago, my husband and I sat down, independently of each other, and worked through Compendium's 5 book to map our values and dreams in addition to our goals. What came from this was more life-changing than we could have imagined.

When we compared notes, my husband and I realized that we both had a passionate desire to live and work abroad. It had never seemed practical to pack up our family and embark on a journey overseas. Recent changes in the economy had put the brakes on Rod's real-estate practice, though, and we soon realized that this was the perfect time to explore our dreams. Why not have a 40-something married couple and three kids under 13 go to a third-world country?

Two months later, we had lined up teaching jobs at an international school in Baguio City, Philippines; we sold our non-essentials, put the rest in storage, and made plans to say goodbye to friends and family for a year, or perhaps longer...

Living in the Philippines was always an adventure. We learned how to turn a two-lane road into a five-lane one and how to drive in a place where people stop in the middle of the street to change their oil. Our children were immersed in a school of many cultures and learned that kids don't act the same everywhere in the world. Our blond-haired, blue-eyed child adopted a stronger Filipino accent than her native peers and cheerfully accepted cheek pinching from strangers on the street.

We learned that we bonded as a family (and with new precious friends) through the wacky and the challenging. We found that our assimilation and adaptation to new cultures wasn't as flexible as we once thought. We tried new things every day (though sometimes only once--fish head soup, for example). These experiences provided a chance for our family to rise above circumstances.

We observed a culture that is resilient and understands that hard times happen, and learned to stay calm even when things don't go as planned. We saw an entire neighborhood washed away by a landslide from one of the worst typhoons in decades, and we realized that you don't have to rely on electricity or the predictability of your favorite things to bring you joy. Above all, we witnessed the simplicity and beauty of a culture that is fueled by relationships.

I feel humbled that we were able to live this dream. I am grateful for the 5 book that magnified our dream and gave us the courage to check off quite a few boxes on our bucket list while impacting and being impacted by so many lives along the way.

» 3 Comment s   Tags: love · the 5 book · inspirational products · friendship

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