The Season for Gratitude

Give ThanksDuring this holiday season, cultivating an attitude of gratitude is at the top of my to-do list. Family is top of the top, hands down. After family, my top 10 for 2016 is:

10.)  Election season being over! Nationally as well as locally. My day job is in a political office, which makes election season ultra stressful.

9.)   Chemotherapy and radiation. If you just said, “say what?!?” I totally get it. But as evil as these treatments can be, it’s what we have to kill the killer–cancer. It’s what made the cancer-free diagnosis for my dad possible. And it’s the hope for a dear friend who’s battling cancer.

8.)   The opportunity to attend an amazing Writer’s Conference, Colorado Gold, in September. It helped me grow as a writer in skill, confidence, and productivity; and the opportunity to participate in a 5-week online writing workshop hosted by the University of Iowa.

7.)   Spending priceless time with my kids and grandkids, and preparing to welcome another granddaughter to the mix!

6.)   My husband, a man of honor, integrity, and faith, retiring after 40 years serving in law enforcement, the last 21 years as Chief of Police. I couldn’t be more proud.

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5.)   Publishing two books this year, Shear Deception and Finding Abby, and hosting a successful book event that included several local authors.

4.)   The finances and job that allowed me several trips back to Minnesota to help my parents as my dad battled cancer.

3.)   Just three weeks away from 5 years of sobriety which led to the rebirth of my writing career.

2.)   Friends, old and new, who have each left a handprint on my heart.

1.)   God bestowing millions of blessings on my life throughout the year. All that and the year isn’t even over yet! 🙂

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The Present of Presence

Maya Angelou quote

The best lessons come from the most difficult trials, the most significant growth from when we’re at our lowest.

When we’re filled with pride, the inevitable fall is hard. And so painful. But with humility comes peace. Yet It never ceases to amaze me that like the monster it is, pride rears its ugly head time and time again.

I have found the one surefire way to stay humble is to be grateful. One cannot be grateful and filled with pride at the same time. It’s like being angry and laughing at the same time. They cannot coexist. The next time you’re angry about something, smile, even if you have to fake it, and see if it doesn’t change your perspective at that exact moment.

When I talk about being grateful, I don’t just mean about the big things that happen during the day. The in-your-face-can’t-miss-it blessings. I’m referring to the little, seemingly insignificant things that oftentimes go unnoticed unless we’re consciously aware of our surroundings. The hundreds of presents given to us daily waiting to be unwrapped, graciously accepted, and savored. All of the ordinary moments that collectively make the day extraordinary.

The birth of a new day.

That deep, long inhale, followed by a long cleansing exhale, feeling every muscle relax in the process.

The sound of laughter.

That smile from a stranger at that exact moment you needed a smile. And when you didn’t even realize you needed one until you received it.

A child’s belly laugh.

That one line in a book that speaks directly to your heart.

A vibrant red umbrella on a gray, rainy day.

red umbrella

That magical “I love you” from a loved one.

That out-of-blue phone call from an old friend, just calling to see how you’ve been.

The smell of a freshly opened box of crayons.

The feel of fresh, crisp sheets after a long day.

The soft hum of the furnace on a cold day.

Bright stars twinkling in a black velvet sky.

The comfort of slipping into yoga pants and a sweatshirt after a long day at work.

Kindness from a stranger.

That out-of-the-blue scent that transports me back in time to one of my very favorite moments, like the smell of Chantilly that brings my grandmother close again.

The scent of a balsam pine candle.

Sea salt caramel gelato.

Letters written in silver script.

The warmth of the clothes as they’re pulled from the dryer.

Christmas Present

Presents given endlessly, waiting to be discovered. And we can only receive them if we’re present in the moment. Presence. It’s the best present we can give ourselves this Christmas.

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Gratitude-2

The Week’s Top Three:

3.)  A brilliant pink cloud hanging in the evening sky. God’s hand print.

2.)  Learning limits on what I can take on and how to say “no” so as not to take away from my family, writing time, or recovery maintenance.

1.)  Watching both of my boys working in my older son’s garage, interacting with each other, talking and laughing. My heart swells with so much love I think it will explode. 🙂

What’s on your list?

“As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world.” ~Terri Guillemets

Carpe Diem

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

My top three for the week:

3.)  Watching my 22-year-old son play in a soccer tournament. I love to watch him play. His speed, skill  and agility are delightful to watch and I’m so proud of him.

2.)  Opening the door one evening to find my 25-year-old son and my 16-month-old granddaughter standing there, both smiling from ear to ear. Sheer delight!

1.)  A heartfelt, meaningful conversation with one of my boys on life and relationships. Being a mother–and grandmother–truly is my greatest joy.

I would love to hear what you’re grateful for. 🙂

And now it’s back to my last week of camp, (camp NaNoWriMo)  to get some serious writing in and pack things up. What a fun and productive month it’s been!

Back off to the wilderness.

Back off to the wilderness.

 

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Thankful

My top three for this week:

3.)  A beautiful long bike ride filled with conversation with God and abundant blessings.

2.)  My dad telling me on the phone how much he’s enjoying my novel and how proud he is of me. (Do we ever outgrow the need for and joy of our parents’ approval?)

1.)  A youtube video brought to my attention by my blogging friend, Marie, that totally supports my decision to take a partial leave of absence from electronics. Watch here.  (Thank you Marie.)

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.”  -Denis Waitley

What are you grateful for this week?

And now it’s back off to Camp! 🙂

Back off to the wilderness.

Back off to the wilderness.

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

gratitude-2

My top three for the week:

3.)  An out-of-the-blue phone call from a childhood friend who now lives in Montana. What fun to catch up!

2.)  My shipment of books arriving yesterday! Oh for the excitement! 🙂

box of books

1.)  My son and his wife asking me to be a witness to their marriage. What an honor! Yes, I cried.  🙂  They got married in the courthouse a year ago and are now having their big “church wedding.”

For each new morning with its light, For rest and shelter of the night, For health and food, for love and friends, For everything Thy goodness sends.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson

What are your top three – or even one – for the week?

 

 

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Giving Thanks

When I was growing up, Thanksgiving was my very favorite holiday.  That’s an odd holiday for a child to have as a favorite, but my mom always made it so special, and it began weeks before Thanksgiving Day.

She hung a picture of a cornucopia on the refrigerator door and every day we got to write something we were thankful for.  What a joy it was to get up in the morning and write on that cornucopia!  The first several days I would sneak in more than one thing, because there was just so much!

Cornucopia

After the usual same-every-year mentions of Family, God, the name of our pet, etc., that reined at the top of the list, came the creativity and heart of the thanksgiving project.  The part that really stretched my heart into other areas of my God-given life and made me reach into areas that would have gone unnoticed had I not been led there to discover things I was grateful for.

Thanksgiving Day came and it was the warmest, least hectic, beautiful day of the year, beginning with the early morning smells wafting through the house of mom’s turkey and pies baking, taking comfort in hearing her movement in the kitchen, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and family beginning to arrive.

The day was spent watching the parade with all of its colorful bands and creative floats, football, playing games, ice skating, laughter, and eating food that had never tasted as good as it did on Thanksgiving Day because we weren’t just eating food, we were sharing a meal with special people.

As I became a mom with children of my own, we continued going to my parent’s house for mom’s special Thanksgiving.  In my own home, however, I continued the pre-Thanksgiving magic of the cornucopia on the refrigerator door, my own children just as excited as I was to be able to write what they were Thankful for.

Now that my children are grown, I’ve carried the tradition of the giving thanks attitude of gratitude to my workplace, a place that often rains down with negativity.  Every year I make a colorful, fun poster to hang by my desk and send the “It’s time to be thankful” office-wide email.  I place the basket of markers alongside the poster and the fun begins.  People from all three floors participate in writing on the poster, and the things people are grateful for continue to amaze me every year.

The young and the old”er” of the office have found joy and wonder in that piece of cardboard called the Thankful Poster, and we’ve had some very creative things we’re thankful for, such as indoor plumbing.  Who thinks of indoor plumbing as something for which to be grateful if not for the encouragement of the poster? 🙂

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My mom, one person, by creating a thankful atmosphere in my home as a child, created a ripple effect of gratefulness to hundreds of people.  And that is something to be truly grateful for.  All is takes is one.  That one can make an an unlimited difference.

All is Grace.

The Power Behind a Thought

English: Engraving of American philosopher and...

Watch your thoughts for they become words,
watch your words for they become actions,
watch your actions, for they become habits,
watch your habits for they become your character,
watch your character for it becomes your destiny.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson

The first thought in the morning can be the driving force behind the entire day.

The best part about that?  We have the power within us to make every day a good day.  We have the ability to practice turning a negative thought, no matter how quickly it appears, into a positive one before it has time to germinate and fester.  Before it gathers forceful speed as a snowball rolling downhill, gathering more “stuff” along the way.

And the more we practice at something the better we become.  Until it becomes somewhat second nature.

One of the most powerful antidotes to negative thoughts, intentional or not, is by cultivating an attitude of gratitude.  Rather than seeing the darkness of a situation, see the light that is shining through the cracks.  No matter how tiny those cracks may be, the light can, and will, shine through. Look for it and you will see its beauty.

It’s easy to be positive when things are going in your direction.  It’s when one’s back is against the wall and on our third strike, or the 8th life of a cat, that practicing positive thoughts seems nearly impossible.  But pushing through the tide, weathering the storm, brings security and strength and a life truly lived well.

Luke 1:37

To start off the day on a positive note, before your feet touch the floor beside your bed, think of one thing to be grateful for and give credit where credit is due.  Give thanks to God.

Pay attention to your thoughts throughout the day and as soon as a negative one begins to form, turn it into a positive.  Before turning out the lights at night, think of three things to be grateful for that happened during the day.  Mentally reviewing your day to develop your grateful items is better than not doing it at all, but I find if I write them down I can go back and look at them many times over, feeling grateful all over again each time I look at them.  An instant pick-me-up for the heart and soul.

Suggestions:

When someone cuts you off in traffic, halt the impulse to cuss and give them “the look.”  Instead say a prayer that they get to where they are going safely and without hurting anyone.

When you’ve put your name in the hat for a job promotion and you don’t get it, stop yourself from the negative thoughts that can feed off of  self-pity and hurt feelings by congratulating the person who did get the position and offer them your assistance if they need it.

When someone pushes ahead of you in a line that you’ve been waiting in, rather than curse and let the anger take hold, force yourself to smile.  And think, “I’ve waited this long, what’s one more?”

Our actions follow our thoughts.  If our thoughts are positive and loving, our actions will be as well.

And with that, it’s time for me to get some practicing in.  I have a ways to go.

All is Grace.