Gratitude

I’ve written plenty of posts over the years on gratitude. I’ve even authored a book called Finding Peace Through Gratitude: The Secret to Healing From Trauma and Discovering Joy in Every Moment, written under pen name Alexandra Benn.

Finding Peace Through Gratitude: The Secret to Healing From Trauma and Discovering Joy in Every Moment by [Benn, Alexandra]It’s in large part because of gratitude that I have the life I have today. It’s gotten me through everything from monumental life events to seemingly infinitesimal daily matters. It’s gratitude that has lifted me from the depths of despair and painful moments I couldn’t see my way thorough. It’s gratitude that has carried me through the death of loved ones and fully appreciating my loved ones still with me. It’s gratitude that makes me focus on all that I have instead of desiring that which I don’t.

Gratitude is a state of mind, a decision, a choice. It’s choosing to look at the glass as half full instead of half empty. It’s choosing to look at what you have with appreciation and thanks instead of pining for that which you don’t. It doesn’t mean you have to be grateful for pain that hurts beyond anything you’ve ever felt, but I promise you there’s something in that painful mess that you can be grateful for.

Death of a loved one? You can be grateful for the time you had with him/her. For the experiences you shared. For the memories you can cherish.

Victim of a crime? Help other victims of crime and feel gratitude that you’re able to use it for good. It transforms you from victim to victor.

Passed up for the job promotion you worked so hard for? Reach deep to find gratitude that you have a job and that you have the opportunity to try again. In fact, express your happiness for the person who did get it, and you will feel like the winner.

Chronic illness? There’s always someone who’s worse off. I’m not suggesting your illness/pain isn’t real and I’m not diminishing it in any way. (I, too, had a long run with chronic pain in my past with fibromyalgia.) But if you choose to focus on and be grateful for the health you have in other areas, it makes it so much easier to bear.

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So all of this being said, it’s this time of year that I love to reflect on the past year(s) and swell with gratitude for all that I have and all that I have accomplished. Every New Year’s Eve I journal these things as a permanent visual reminder of how blessed I am. On those days life is especially hard, when I’m tired and worn, and when it’s hard to see the blessings, I pull that journal page out and review it. And then I’m so grateful for the practice that I’ve cultivated.

What from this past year are you grateful for? 

Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. John Milton

 

 

Authors Supporting Authors

Paulo Coelho

This past Saturday I was fortunate to be a part of book event at Welcome to the Bookstore with some author friends. There was a scavenger hunt, trivial pursuit, author readings, refreshments, drawings, and a whole lot of camaraderie with some amazing authors.

I’m equally fortunate to have found such an amazing writer’s group to belong to, Sisters in Crime-Colorado  (SINC-CO). What amazing and talented women we have, not to mention a lot of fun! We learn and build from each other, grow together, support each other, and celebrate each other’s successes. I get all that and I’m not even able to participate in several of the events because of this “thing” that gets in the way. It’s called busy-ness. 🙂

Being part of a writer’s group has grown my writing career beyond anything I could have hoped for, and for that, I am so grateful! I’m also a member of Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers and urge you to check them out as well. I’m over-the-top excited to attend the Colorado Gold Writer’s Conference next month in Denver.

Speaking from my own experience, if you’re a writer and on the fence about whether to join a writer’s group or not, I would like to give you a gentle nudge, helping you to the other side of that fence–the side that finds you surrounded by the amazing support of a writer’s group.

Book Event with SINC-COThose of us that participated in Saturday’s event include from left to right:

Rhonda Blackhurst (that would be me 🙂 ), Karen Whalen, Francelia Belton, Theresa Crater, Donna Schlachter/Leeann Betts, Rosa (owner of Welcome to the Bookstore)

I encourage you to take a moment and check out their websites.

Happy reading, happy writing, and most importantly, happy living!

 

 

Summer’s Beauty

Each season has it’s own magic, but there’s something about the fullness of summer that captures the very essence of life’s goodness and God’s glorious gifts. How can one not be filled with gratitude when nature is displayed in all its splendor at the dawn of each new day?

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Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky is by no means a waste of time.  – J. Lubbuck

 

 

Natural Beauty

It seems I’ve been blessed with the beauty of nature everywhere I go lately. I wanted to share some of the serenity with my blogging peeps. Have a cup of tea/coffee, put your feet up, and let yourself be mentally transported to the great outdoors, surrounded by peace, chirping birds, a gentle wind, and the fresh smell of woods.

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I love to think of nature as an unlimited broadcasting station, through which God speaks to us every hour, if we will only tune in. ~George Washington Carver

Light in the Midst of Darkness

The Soul

We have had some amazing weather in Colorado the past couple of days, and today was the best. I was running this morning in the warmth, even the breeze was gentle and warm, the sun’s rays reaching the depths of my soul. The renewed energy and lightness of spirit carried me for most of my run. And I realized how uplifting it is to have this break–or timeout, if you will–in the typically cold dark middle of winter. It gives me encouragement and a glimpse of  spring that awaits just around the corner. It has the same effect as when something good happens in the midst of a whole string of bad. It offers hope. I was even able to hammer out the run-through reading of the first draft of Shear Madness, making notes of changes that need to be made–characters that need to be further developed, the plot that needs to be deepened, paragraphs that may need to be cut, catching inconsistencies in timeline and settings, etc., most of that reading done while sitting on the patio in the sun. What a blessing.

And speaking of blessings, it’s exactly those blessings among the trials in this journey of life that offer us hope for something better yet to come. Those peaks that give us renewed strength and room to breathe after walking through a valley.

One of my peaks came this weekend when I was able to re-connect with a childhood friend over dinner.  We hadn’t seen each other for over thirty years, and yet we were able to recognize each other immediately and it was like we were able to pick up right where we left off.

Coincidence? Nah. I believe it was, and is, purely a blessing.

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Carpe Diem

 

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.

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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.

Living with Intention

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Life is often lived in such a rush, as if we’re racing to get somewhere, that so many blessings go unnoticed. The only place we will get by racing through the day is one step closer to the end. I don’t know about you, but I want to experience all that I’m given, tasting and savoring every morsel of the day, every sip as if it’s the finest, most luscious cup of coffee (perhaps wine for those of you who partake).

I want to feel the cool breeze through my hair and the raindrops splash against my cheeks.

I want to feel that lingering stretch in each muscle upon awakening in the morning, right after I’ve lifted my spirit to my God and given Him my day to orchestrate as He will.

I want to feel the sweat bead on my forehead as I feel the invigoration of a good workout.

I want to hear the birdsong of early morning, the doves calling out peacefully.

I want to hear the crunch of the leaves beneath my feet as I drink in the beauty of the fall colors.

I want to hear the crackle of the fire in the fireplace and feel its warmth on a cold evening, snuggled beneath a fleece blanket and cup of herbal tea or sea salt caramel hot cocoa.

I want to feel my lungs expand with each breath, as my heart expands with gratitude for that breath.

I want to feel the arms of my husband circle around me unexpectedly as I stand at the kitchen counter preparing dinner, his lips warm on my neck.

I want to savor that first sip of coffee each morning as I revel in the stillness of morning, when all the world around me is peacefully asleep.

I want to feel the miracle of truly living each moment of each day.

I want to take nothing for granted, but swell with gratitude for each gift given, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

And for all this, I don’t have to do anything. I simply have to be. A human being rather than a human doing.

“Live with intention.
Walk to the edge.
Listen Hard.
Practice wellness.
Play with abandon.
Laugh.
Choose with no regret.
Appreciate your friends.
Continue to learn.
Do what you love.
Live as if this is all there is.”

— Mary Anne Radmacher

Carpe Diem