So Much to be Grateful For

Gratitude 12.22.18

Every year at work I create a gratitude poster. I hang it in the breakroom, provide a couple of Sharpie markers, and send out the expected office-wide email. I say “expected office-wide email” because I’ve been doing this for 10+ years.

I work at a District Attorney’s Office so we see a lot of heartbreaking, soul-ripping things that people do to one another. Secondary trauma is a very real thing.  So a little gratitude goes a long way in getting through the days in a healthy way. It helps to write down what we’re thankful for as well as read what others are thankful for. It changes one’s perspective. There have been numerous studies done on gratitude and the effect it has on the human mind. It’s one of the easiest and most inexpensive mental health treatments available. I’ve had a ton of positive feedback regarding this poster and we get a little bit of everything written down. Some of them make us laugh–which is therapeutic in itself–some make us ponder, and some warm our hearts. Below is an image of this year’s poster. Enjoy!

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Always grateful. Grateful always.

At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. – Albert Schweitzer

Black Friday

Black Friday

For every person who loves Black Friday, there’s another that dislikes it equally as much. I’m of the latter camp. Shopping and everything that relates to “stuff” is my least favorite part of the Christmas season. I’ll take the lights, the music, the uncomplicated joy of the season well before Thanksgiving–much to my husband’s dismay–but shopping? If I could completely forego it, I would.

REI, one of my favorite stores to browse (it’s the halfway mark of a 30-mile bike ride my husband and I enjoy in permitting weather) closes all of its retail stores on Black Friday so their employees can have the day off to enjoy the outdoors, sharing experiences. Their initiative started the #OptOutside campaign and encouraged others to do the same.

I love this idea!

REI Chief Customer Officer Ben Steele said, “When we started this four years ago, it was that consumerism was spinning out of control, in a frenzy of consumption–I’ve got to have it, I need it, I’ll leave Thanksgiving dinner early to go get it.”

That’s a powerful statement. We spend Thanksgiving grateful for what we have and then get up early the following morning to go buy more.

“Black Friday: Because only in America people trample each other for sales exactly one day after being thankful for what they already have.” Author Unknown

Many stores have even intruded into Thanksgiving evening to get the shopping started, using messages with a sense of urgency to get people in:

  • Limited Time!
  • Today Only!
  • Act Now!
  • Final Close-Out!
  • Deadline!
  • Offer Expires!

I’m not saying Black Friday is all bad. For some people, the sales are what allows them to purchase gifts for Christmas presents. And some people genuinely enjoy the shopping experience with family and friends. Though I have to admit I’m not one of those people. But what saddens me the most is when people go into debt buying “stuff” they don’t need or even want, simply because it’s on sale. When we buy what’s on sale because it’s “on sale,” we’re not saving money, we’re spending it. Too many times Black Friday leads to Red Saturday with people going into debt.

That being said, the Black Friday scrooge that I may be, sincerely wish everyone a Christmas season filled with family and friends, good health, peace, and experiences that bring you joy.

PeaceJoy

 

Happy Thanksgiving

Holiday Fun

I participated in a craft and vendor show this past weekend at Harvest Fellowship Church, manning a table with my books. A writer friend of mine was there as well, her table next to mine. I’d been waiting a long time for this event, as it always promises to be a wonderful time and sets the mood for the beginning of the holiday season, including Christmas.

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Christmas? you say? But it’s not even Thanksgiving yet!

Yes, I know. I, too, am not a fan of stores displaying their Christmas merchandise before Thanksgiving. It seems to be getting earlier every year, to the point that one of these days it will probably be in the stores year-round.

However, that being said, Christmas means different things to different people. For the world of retail it means money. It means starting sales as early as possible, taking advantage of the marketing opportunity to make as much money as possible. Christmas music pipes through the speakers in department stores, subconsciously inspiring people to buy, buy, buy.

For others, me included, celebrating the Christmas season in combination with Thanksgiving means something entirely different. I don’t believe it can ever be too early to celebrate the birth of Christ. To begin preparing our hearts for the coming of the Savior. Thanksgiving isn’t only about remembering the Pilgrims, it’s about giving thanks to God for the thousands of blessings he gives me.

On October 3, 1863, in the third fall of the Civil War, President Lincoln issued a proclamation:
I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, …, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him …

Giving thanks to the Father for the birth of His Son fits in nicely here. It’s never too early for that. So bring on the Thanksgiving holiday, complete with turkey, pumpkin pie, family, and football, while at the same time preparing my heart for the birth of Christ. And Christmas lights and music? When the heart is focused on Him, Christmas music isn’t about buying, it soothes and helps prepare. And lights? Who doesn’t love the beauty of lights.

Enjoy this holiday season, the entire season, for all it’s worth.

Wishing you a most blessed Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving Day is a jewel, to set in the hearts of honest men; but be careful that you do not take the day, and leave out the gratitude. – E.P. Powell

Happy Thanksgiving

Give Thanks

Wishing everyone a happy Thanksgiving, filled with family, friends, laughter, and memories to last a lifetime.

Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.  -William Arthur Ward

Share what you’re thankful for this year. 🙂

Off to NaNo Land

For the month of November I’ll be off to the land of NaNoWriMo. What’s that you say? Click on the link to find out. Maybe you’ll decide to join me there next year.

Nano-summer

Okay, so where I live it looks more like this in November…

NaNo Land

NaNo Land

Sometimes even like this…

NaNo Land

NaNo Land

But regardless of what lies outside, I’ll be in my den creating my own the-sky’s-the-limit reality with 50,000 words of screaming fun for NaNoWriMo.

Have a beautiful, bountiful November, a blessed Thanksgiving, and a month filled with grateful hearts.

See you in December! 🙂

Carpe Diem

T.G.I.F. – Gratitude Friday

Gratitude-photo

The week’s top three:

3.)  When I click on the Publish button to publish a blog post and that beautiful pop-up appears that says “No writing errors were found.” Simple joy! 🙂

2.)  The beauty of color – purple ink on white paper, the brilliant pinks, reds and oranges of a sunrise, the bright blue of a clear sky, the purity of the white clouds dotting that blue sky.

1.)  That feeling of immense freedom that comes from releasing every care, every burden to Him, knowing He will work all for good. His will, not mine, be done.

What tops your list for the week?

“We would worry less if we praised more. Thanksgiving is the enemy of discontent and dissatisfaction.”  — Harry A. Ironside

Carpe Diem

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 Journey

The street sign for "I Dream of Jeannie L...

The street sign for “I Dream of Jeannie Lane” in Cocoa Beach, Florida (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I remember when I was younger and our family would embark on a road trip, a car ride that could last five minutes or five hours,  my sisters and I would sing a chorus that consisted of  “Are we there yet?” And “How much longer until we’re there?”   Wherever “there” happened to be.

My patient parents would offer words to pacify us for as long as they were able.  Until one of us started the trio again. Often times it became a solo.  Apparently, my voice felt the need to be heard more frequently, demanding immediate arrival.

In fact, I had often wished I were Samantha from the TV Show Bewitched, so I could wriggle my pointed little nose and POOF!   We would instantly arrive.  Or Barbara Eden in I Dream of Jeannie.  All it would take would be to cross my arms in front of me, close my eyes, nod my head, and the magic of time travel would have happened in the blink of an eye.

Instead, I irritated my sisters to no end belting out the same few words to a single song over and over  and over.  I remember especially liking the song “Delta Dawn,” much to my sisters’ dismay. Or “This Little Light of Mine.”  They didn’t seem to mind that one as much so it usually wasn’t as much fun.

Yes, I realize I’m dating myself, revealing that somewhere along that journey I wished away my youth into someone somewhat…older.  Though I prefer to call it seasoned rather than older.

The point being, things haven’t changed a whole lot. Except the age factor.  But I won’t get caught up in such minor details.

I still find myself impatiently waiting for the red light to turn green.

For the following week to finally arrive landing me a day off from work.

When that day off finally arrives, I watch the clock for a certain time of the day that a certain fun event is scheduled to happen.

Or eagerly waiting for winter to turn into the rebirth of spring, then into the warm lazy days of summer that turn out to be not very lazy at all.  In fact, before I know it I’m falling into the trees turned yellow, red, and the beauty that is my favorite season of all.

And it’s there I wish I could linger a little longer.  Have a little more time to walk, breathing in the smells of the fall air, listening to the leaves crunch beneath my shoes, coming in from a cool, brisk afternoon of outdoor fun to be greeted by the warm, comforting aroma of a roast in the crockpot wafting toward me as I open the door.

Autumn

Autumn (Photo credit: blmiers2)

And then its the excitement of the first snow.  And  the cycle begins its…cycle.

As I become more seasoned in life, I’m learning instead of waiting for time to fly by at a red light, I can take advantage of that rare moment when time stands still.  When I don’t have anything demanding my immediate attention, and listen to an audio book.  Or offer up a prayer for a friend in need.  Or a prayer of thanksgiving for all of the good things I have that don’t get the attention they deserve when I’m so busy.

I’m learning, heaven forbid,  that I can actually sit in silence.  Paying attention to each slow, easy breath.  Enjoying the bird that flies right in front of my window, free.

I’m beginning to learn that I enjoy sitting still.  And silence.  And sitting still in silence.

I’m becoming aware of all of the opportunities I have in which to pay God the reverence due.

Trusting that I am exactly where God wants me to be at that exact moment in time.

In the dead cold of winter, I’m learning to focus on the purity of the white snow, appreciating the warmth of the sun on my face, or the way the sun makes the snow sparkle crystals, looking like a layer of diamonds strewn across the backyard.

I’m learning that I’ve never truly arrived at the destination, because the destination I set keeps changing.

Rather, it’s about the journey.

As I get…seasoned…in life, I become aware of my surroundings exactly where I am, doing exactly what I’m doing, and appreciate that I am there.  At that exact moment.  With an opportunity to experience that exact moment in life.

To practice perseverance through an ongoing trial.

I’m learning that it’s in the journey that we truly live, experiencing the flair and tasting the flavor of life.

It’s in the journey that memories are made, obstacles overcome, lessons learned.

Heaven

Heaven (Photo credit: adyyflickr)

And it’s in the journey that I learn to truly enjoy the living.  The living that prepares me for my ultimate destination.

The only destination I need ever to strive for. Home with God.

Peace to You.