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Tis’ the Season… To-Do lists that stretch as far as the eye can see—and budgets that don’t. With so much to get done and so many to buy for, this time of year can be overwhelming.

I long ago changed my mindset from decking the halls to impress and shopping until I drop.  I have learned to focus only on the traditions that matter most to me and actually enjoy the season.  My family just finished our annual “Wrap Party”.  It’s a night we all get together to wrap up all the gifts we have bought for the families we have adopted from a local shelter.  We have been doing this for over twenty-five years and it is still brings me joy each and every Christmas.

Giving back is at the heart of our holiday celebrations.  Watch this short little video right up to the end to really catch that spirit. The Secret to Living is Giving

May your Holidays be Merry and Bright!

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it, is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” ~ William Arthur Ward

Sometimes it takes a powerful reminder to have an attitude of gratitude.  Whether that reminder is as strong as a hurricane or as simple as a turkey dinner, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.

Attitudes are contagious, is yours worth catching?    If like me you sometimes need an attitude adjustment, this inspiring video will do just that with 7 tips you can easily apply to your real life.  “

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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Soon Moms across the land will be waking up to receive their Mother’s Day gifts.  I can’t help but  smile when I think back over all the years of finger paint art and sticky pancakes in bed.

I recently read that 91% of Moms would rather get an iPad than flowers this year.  While I highly doubt many Moms will be asking for a spendy iPad, I do think the article was spot on about just how few Moms really want flowers.

In lieu of expensive electronics here is a run down of what Mom’s are probably getting and what they might actually like instead…

The new Mom who hasn’t slept in months is probably getting roses.  What she’d really like is a long leisurely bath and an even longer nap.

Finger Paint Art

The Mother of toddlers is probably getting a bathrobe from her kids.  What she’d really like is her own time out – tell her she is going to be sent to her room alone for the day and she will jump for joy!

The Mom with school age kids is probably getting a kitchen appliance.  She’d really like a day at the spa with her girlfriends to relax and be pampered.

The Mother of teenagers is probably going to get a text message from her kids wishing her a Happy Mother’s day.   What she would really like is a gift card so she can go buy some clothes her kids will stop making fun of.

The empty nest Mom is probably going to get a nice bottle of perfume.  What she wants is to know that you were really listening and her hard work was worth it.

Truth is, Moms don’t want any thing, they want to be appreciated.  And you can’t buy that at the mall.

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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Last year for Christmas I got a Goat, Water, a small business in Haiti, and a Brain.  Please allow me to explain…

My son donated a goat in my honor through Heifer International.

My daughter donated to Kiva in my honor.  Through Kiva I was able to fund a woman with a micro loan for her business in Haiti.

My husband donated drinking water in my honor to a village through Charity Water.

My sister donated her brain (postmortem of course) in my honor to the Brain Bank at The Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center.  Read the book My Stroke of Insight and you will understand why I am passionate about this research.

Throughout the year these gifts have brought me such joy.  I smile whenever I think about the incredible work these organizations are doing and what a difference they are making.

This year the charity gift that is top on my wish list is a donation to Grameen America.

Grameen American was founded by one of my heroes, Muhammad Yunus.  Professor Yunus began the Grameen Bank, a system that has succeeded with remarkable results in the villages of Bangladesh.  Now Professor Yunus has brought his wisdom and vision to America. Grameen America provides affordable micro-loans to help financially empower low-income entrepreneurs.

Join me in giving gifts that give back this year.  I have the honor of being part of 12 Days of Giving an innovative social media campaign to raise funds for charities through Crowdrise.  I have chosen Grameen America as my charity.

To encourage you even a bit more… If we reach $2000 for Grameen Amercia, I will Bungee Jump!  Something my kids have been trying to get me to do—and I have been desperately trying to avoid—for many years!!  Follow the fun at the Twitter hashtag #12DaysOfGiving

Please show your support by clicking here

Make the Holidays Bright!

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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As we head into the holiday season, perhaps the greatest gift we can give each other is compassion.

I have recently had several reminders,  just how often as we go about our busy days we fail to consider what circumstances those around us may be dealing with.   We just never know if that less than pleasant woman in front of us at the check out counter has just found out she lost her job, or if the grouchy person sitting next to us on the plane is returning home from a funeral, or if the reason you had less than stellar service at dinner last night was because the waiter just received some horrible news.

In the past few months I have been both on the receiving and I am ashamed to say giving end of less than compassionate behavior.   The fact is, sometimes we just have no idea what those around us may be going through.

With so many people facing financial crisis and health challenges right now, stress is at an all time high.  A smile, patience and a little understanding will go along way.

In an ideal world we would all be brave and at least reach out to those close to us.   As my dear friend Cathy Conheim says, “Three of the most powerful words in the English language are: ‘Please help me’.”   Until we all learn those words, let’s learn to be more compassionate with each other.

Compassion, it’s the gift that will keep on giving this holiday season…

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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I always wanted to be the best mom in the world – but I’ve rarely been able to live up to that standard.  When my daughter Harlie was in fifth grade and my son Bridger was in kindergarten, I gave birth to a new business.  I had so much going on – kids, husband, home, and now, a start-up. What I didn’t have was sleep!

It was late October and I was scrambling to get ready for my first serious busy season at work. Bridger’s teacher had scheduled a Halloween party for his class. Since I am not Martha Stewart, rather than sew Bridger’s Halloween costume, I ordered it from a catalog. On the day of the party I got Bridger all dressed up in his tights,pumpkin-costume_th bright orange round pumpkin and matching stem hat.  He looked adorable. We raced out the door and I dropped him off at school on my way to the office.

I had only been at work for about five minutes when I received a phone call – it was the school. Bridger was on the phone in tears.    “Mom, you had the wrong day!” he sobbed. “The Halloween party is tomorrow!” He was the only child at school in a costume. He had been hiding in the bathroom when his teacher found him. Now I was in tears, too.

I made the “drive of shame” home to get Bridger’s school uniform and then back to the school so he could change. I’ll never forget this angry little boy – dressed like a pumpkin – waiting for me when I got back to the school. The look on his face still haunts me and I cringe when I think about it – a “bad mother” day, for sure!

Excerpt from my new book Oil for Your Lamp, order your copy at

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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Christmas just doesn’t feel the same once the kids are grown.

The magic of watching young children on Christmas morning is something to be treasured.

Fioan and her holiday rubber chicken

Fiona in Santa Hat

This year our grand-dog Fiona is providing the laughter and the magic of the season!

Happy Holidays!

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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So many of us are counting down the days until 2009 is over, eager to greet a new year with new hope.  If 2009 has you feeling like you’ve been hit by a train, I offer up Hartley’s words of wisdom for us all.

lisa train

I met Hartley last year while I was on a trip with a group of friends. Early on in the trip, I was at the hotel in the midst of arranging a taxi to pick us all up at a certain time the next morning and trying to find out about a ferry schedule. Okay, I was being my organized type A self when a man named Hartley stepped in. I explained to him I wanted to make sure we arrived at our next destination on time. He just smiled. I tried to clarify that I really needed to know what time we would need to get the taxi to pick us up in order to arrive at the ferry on time. Hartley smiled again and told me not to be in such a rush.

Hartley just kept saying we should fear not. Fear not?

My friends and I ended up talking to Hartley for almost an hour. He gave us quite a lesson in life. A sermon really. Hartley talked to us about the way it is back in his country of Dominica and how much slower and gentler things are. Fear not he preached. It will all work out. Slow down and take time to enjoy life more. Don’t worry so much he said. Learn to fear not.

The rest of the trip was pretty much a series of disastrous events—let’s just say there was plenty to be afraid of on this trip—but we listened to Hartley, feared not and laughed a lot instead!

I have decided with the fresh start of a new year on the horizon I am going to be following the wise words of Hartley the bellman and take this life lesson with me into the New Year. I am going to slow down, take a few breaths, enjoy life more.

Sounds like a great mantra for a new decade, Fear Not.

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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This year I was going to deck the halls, hand-write holiday greetings and actually mail them, make sugar cookies from scratch, and finish all of my shopping before Thanksgiving. Ha!

That didn’t happen.

About this time each year I think most women basically have our hair on fire. There is just so much to do!  The sense of overwhelm is well…overwhelming.  Can you relate?

And by the way what is the deal with Santa Claus getting all the credit?  We know darn well that in most cases it’s Madame Claus that is doing most of the work!

It is the season for giving after all, so let’s try giving ourselves a break.
 How about this holiday season instead all the “should’s” and “have-to’s” on our list we cut ourselves some slack?  Instead of super-sizing our work load this time of year, I dare you to down-size it!   Besides the smaller the tree the bigger the presents will look!


The best gift of all is taking it easy on ourselves. Here’s to actually enjoying the holiday season.


Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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This morning as I put on a pair of warm socks to guard against the chilly floors and headed downstairs to my office, I thought about how much I cherish these socks and their origin.

Those of you who have been with me from the start of this journey may remember one of the very first Making a Difference charities we ever featured in the Femail Creations catalog over a decade ago, the Rainbow Socks Project.

The year before I actually began Femail Creations I learned about a woman in Boston named Babbie who collected yarn and knitting needles to send to the women of Bosnia and Croatia so they could knit scarves and mittens and socks to stay warm.  Babbie’s project gathered momentum and people from all over the country were sending her yarn and knitting needles. I went out that day and gathered up boxes of yarn and shipped them off.

What I loved about Babbie’s story was that, like so many of us, she saw a news story about women’s lives being torn apart by war, only instead of just being saddened or even angered by the story, she took action.

After Femail Creations got off the ground, I thought about Babbie and wanted to somehow use the catalog to help. I contacted her and asked how we could support the great work she was doing. She said that the women now had all of the mittens and socks they needed, however we could continue to send them supplies so that they could sell their excess socks back to us for sale here in the United States. Babbie’s generous idea, called the Rainbow Socks Project, not only provided clothing and warmth to the women but an income stream to help them rebuild their village, which was destroyed in the war.

I asked Babbie if we could feature the Rainbow Socks as our holiday 1997 charity in the catalog. I knew our customers would love the story and want to buy the socks and mittens and reach out to these women thousands of miles away. Babbie loved the idea and we immediately began working out the logistics of how to get that many socks over here.

Rainbow Socks

Each pair of mittens or socks were knitted by hand, using the patterns these women had been handing down for generations, and each woman would stitch a little piece of paper with her name on it in the mitten or sock. No two were exactly alike but each one was a heartfelt work of art. (I know many of you would love to buy more of them right now, but alas they are no longer available all these many years later.)

Babbie used her personal frequent flier miles to fly over to pick up the socks herself to guarantee that we would get them here in time to sell them in the catalog. And then she did the same thing again when she brought the women their check from Femail Creations.

The women were able to reconstruct their village with the money we sent them from the mittens and socks we sold in the catalog.

When Babbie returned she sent me a gift I truly treasure, a letter and a piece of cloth. The letter explained that the piece of cloth was the first one produced by the loom they bought for the village using the money Femail Creations sent them. Babbie said they all called me the “good woman,” and told her to take this to the “good woman” who helped them rebuild their village.

A few years ago my husband and I were fortunate enough to actually visit Croatia. A very different place than it was over a decade ago. Dubrovnik is now a thriving and beautiful travel destination. It was a real full circle moment for me.

Babbie’s story still inspires me and reminds me just how important it is to take action when something moves us.   Whether your family holiday traditions include adopting a less fortunate family, helping stock food pantries or just taking cookies to your neighbors, this season is a great opportunity to reach out and make a difference, lighten someone’s load and brighten someone’s day.

Here’s to embracing life’s full circle moments and the magic of the season!

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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me and harlie zoot suits

My favorite holiday tradition is getting new pajamas on Christmas Eve.  When I was a kid I loved getting the pj’s with feet in them!    I looked forward to opening up every Christmas Eve what in our home was called a “zoot suit”.

Last year I thought it would be fun if my family had the pleasure of getting zoot suits on Christmas Eve.  I couldn’t stop laughing, but oddly my kids didn’t seem to think pajamas with feet in them were so great!  Imagine that, my adult kids not loving these!   Oh well, this picture of me and Harlie and our feety pajamas still makes me smile.

I hope your holidays bring you laughter, happy memories, and the magic of the season!

Lisa Hammond
The Barefoot CEO ®

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