The Art of Gratitude

Do you know that feeling you get when you desperately need a new toothbrush? The bristles are worn and rough. Every morning you pick it up and think, I must buy a new toothbrush today! And every night you want to kick yourself for forgetting to buy one, even though you were in the store. Then, that special day comes when you are both in the store and remember that you need a toothbrush. Hallelujah! You walk over to the dental aisle and view your options, careful to select the right strength, bristle style and color. That night, you crack open the plastic, place the perfect amount of toothpaste on it, and brush your teeth. The new bristles massage your gums that have been so badly mistreated by your old, crotchety toothbrush. When you are done, you run your tongue over your teeth with the wonderful sensation of cleanliness. You can finally take the perpetrator out of your spot on the holder and sentence it to death by trash. There is a sense of joy that fills you when your new brush is hanging there proudly.

Gratitude can be more than just taking a few minutes to ramble out thoughts of the obvious things that contribute to your life in some way.

For me, I began to practice gratitude when I was at a low point in my life. I treated myself to a beautiful leather bound journal and began writing down things I was grateful for each night. Just as most people, my first couple of months entries were repetitive for the obvious things, health, family, food, a placed to live, employment and a vehicle. Looking back and reading through, I began to notice an evolution of my entries. Gratitude slowly began oozing into the crevices of my life, showing up in minor details. I can tell you the dates I bought a new toothbrush, opened a brand new bar of soap or watched the mail man deliver my mail in the pouring rain. I can tell you when I noticed a bird bathing in a puddle and how it made me feel. Reading through my journal I can tell you when I felt good in an outfit and when my egg omelet was cooked to perfection. I know all the times I was grateful for a good laugh with a friend and each time I hugged my children extra tight, looked into their eyes and told them how much I loved them.

Practicing gratitude has allowed me to observe my life in the moment I am living it. I find myself stopping throughout the day to feel grateful and happy for little details that I might have overlooked in the past, and for that I will always be forever grateful.

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A GROWTH SPURT

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Experiencing change is a tornado of feelings all swooshed and swirled together to form something that is unrecognizable. I feel flickers of fear, specks of uncertainty, swirls of excitement, dotted with anxiety, all circulating in happiness. The force of change has left me unable to secure my footing. Its fast pace has left me dizzy.

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Although, this is a much welcomed change, in which I am in no means complaining, it has distracted me from writing, blogging and reading.

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My all time favorite quote.

To my WordPress family, I am slowly returning, I am just in a growth spurt right now. ūüôā

The Winds Are Blowing In From The East

The casket is closed. It is always difficult to watch such an excruciating death. My knees weakened and tears seemed endless. So difficult to let go, no longer able to be called upon. I have mourned and grieved this death for a long time.

Now, I am convinced that it was for the best. It was my pride that had died that day.

It had been some time ago, I fell down on my luck. I had been filled with a sense of hopelessness which pained me to start each new day. A new day consumed with dread and despair, achieving nothing but to be reminded how my ridiculous goals were far from being realistically attained. My goals were sitting on the other side of the ocean and all life handed me was a paddle, which was broken. I have cried, screamed and complained, which only seemed to spread the gap wider between me and my happiness.

Gratitude showed its face to me out of fear. I was afraid things were going to get worse. I was afraid that terrible things would continue to happen in my life and I was fearful of what would become of my children. Gratitude would stop by here and there to console me. Gratitude made me feel fortunate for the little we did have and taught me the importance of the intangible things, which is too often overlooked. Gratitude eventually replaced the ugly pride that filled my soul, no longer able to consume my happiness.

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I have lived in this quote everyday since the death of my pride.

The other day the sun rose in the sky. It was an ordinary day for most, getting the kids off to school, hauling to work. The flowers and trees are busy carrying out spring. The post had been delivered, filling our mailboxes with empty hands waiting for their share of your hard earned money. Some people probably ran a red light and others needed to pick up a few things at the store. All were completely unaware of the wind’s from the east blowing in . . .

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As many of you were going about your day, my makeshift boat scraped on the shallow bottom of the beach, as my calloused hands pulled it ashore.

I have arrived on the other side of that ocean.

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I used duct tape on the paddle. It turns out, it worked just fine.

Is this thing on?

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Testing . . .Testing. . .1…2…3…

Can you hear me? That is the real questions here, isn’t it? Do YOU hear me? Are YOU listening? We are all here typing relentlessly at our keyboards, giving our words a once over and then holding our breath as we click the “Publish” button. WordPress uses its magical powers, casting a spell or hums a tune while happily busy at work. “Beep, Bop, Boop.” Presto! Our words are displayed for the reading pleasure of our followers.

I started blogging after winning a writing contest. Yay!! Yes, I was so excited because it was the first time I was recognized for my writing. They announced me as the winner by using my name and a photograph, but I was very disappointed when they didn’t publish or post what I actually wrote. I felt very unsettled about it all. I kept saying, “I want to be heard, not seen.” It was a big let down, to say the least.

I am now very grateful for this disappointment because it led me here! I can clearly connect the dots of my journey this far in my pursuit and it feels right. I am skipping down the yellow brick road with no evil witch in sight. I set out to be heard and in three in a half months have gained over 350 followers!! I am grateful for each and every person that has committed to following me and most of all for listening!

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This is us! Our arms are interlocked as we skip down the yellow brick road to ask the Almighty Oz for something, only to discover we had the power all along.

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How did you get here?

Happy Blogging!!

TRUTH: I AM AFRAID TO TRUST THE DREAM

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I have narrowed it down, I am afraid to trust the dream.

Today, when I swung my feet on the carpet and forced myself into standing position, I immediately noticed it there, pulling up a chair and taking a seat in the forefront of my brain, my self doubt.

Have I tricked myself into believing in a world, so far from my actual reality? I wonder if I will wake up, rocking myself in an insane asylum and face the terrorizing thought, “That life never actually happened.” ¬†I spend countless hours writing, editing, reading and most of all, thinking which words I can string along to tell my story. Which words will clearly explain the circulating thoughts. Why? Why do I do this? Is it just a vice to get me through the mundane chores and actions of a day?

When I further investigate my desire to write, I find it sprouting from a small seed, whispering out only a single phrase, “There is more.” ¬†I instinctively take a step back, as those powerful words have caused my heart to flutter incessantly like the wings of a hummingbird. “There is more.”

My desperate desire for more haunts me, keeping me up at night. I can taste it in every bite, it is there. I feel it pressed under my nails and it cools my mouth with each sip of water that passes my lips. A sense of being underutilized and unfulfilled has formed as my shadow, always lagging behind.

I want more. Is that wrong? I feel so blessed to be surrounded by health and family. That part of me is inflated with love and gratitude, nearly bursting at the seams. I have had four children, just to ensure that piece would be filled to capacity. What about the rest? What about me? Why am I not content with this being it? No, instead I lie in bed at night, just short of drifting off into a peaceful slumber, when an urge to swiftly jump up, grab a pen and paper, just to write down three little words. . .

There          Is          More

Photo Credit: Doubt and Fear Just Ahead Green Road Sign with Dramatic Storm Clouds and Sky.via Shutterstock

Oprah Magic

This past fall, my dear friend, Vickiwhat,¬†and I loaded up her car and drove off, leaving our town, our children and our responsibilities behind, travelling to our neighboring state for a weekend. The windows were rolled down blowing our hair wild, the music was blasting while we sang out off key, along with me occasionally interrupting, yelling out, “Turn! Turn here!” just as we bypass our right turn. I must admit, I am a terrible navigator, but Vickiwhat, unfazed, continued to sing, as she made another U-turn.

Nothing could bother us, because we were in possession of two tickets to see Oprah on her Live Your Best Life Tour. Yes, they were probably the worst seats they sold, but we didn’t mind. Oprah was going to make this weekend go smoothly, after all, this was technically checking off an item on our bucket list. The “Oprah Magic” began a few days prior when our hotel called us and asked if they could relocate us down the road, in return, they would comp our room and parking. Great! The whole car ride there, we began thanking Oprah and the universe for our fabulous weekend. “Thank you for letting us meet Gayle.” “I was so happy to see Adam Glassman again.” “Thank you so much for the upgraded seats, it really made the trip special” and so on. We continued to show gratitude for an amazing weekend, as if it already happened. Crazy, right? ¬†Nope!

As we strolled along the sidewalk towards the arena in our high heels, my eyes began scanning the crowds of people clustered around the entrance. I nudge Vickiwhat, saying “Hey, doesn’t the lady look just like Gayle King?” ¬†Well, it was! ¬†We yelled out to her, waving frantically. She turned towards us, looked us right in the eye and waved! ¬†Shortly after, Adam Glassman, the creative director of the O Magazine, strolled along side us as we chatted him up, before wishing him well and parted ways.

As we entered the arena, we realize we must climb every single flight of stairs to reach our seats. I nearly had a panic attack, as I am terrified of heights. ¬†Again, nudging Vickiwhat I¬†said, “Come on, I can’t do this” and we walked down the several hundred stairs back to the lobby. After a half hour spent at customer service, a very nice gentleman upgraded our seats to the 1st tier level, which was extremely close to the stage! We were overjoyed and could barley contain our excitement, as Oprah Winfrey took the stage in her beautiful, plum gown.

The crowd of majority women, were the nicest, enlightened, most positive people I have ever met.  The energy vibrated throughout the packed arena.  The following day, Rob Bell, Mark Nepo, Elizabeth Gilbert, Iyanla Vanzant and of course, Oprah Winfrey, all spoke about their most valuable and influential life lessons. There was a workbook handed out, which Oprah prompted exercises. For example,

Think of a person who is closest to your heart. Think (or write down) of the ideal life you would want for them. You can give them anything, money, cars, career opportunities, ect.

The life you wished for that person, is a reflection of what you want for yourself. We tend to want more, and are willing to ask for more for others, than we would for ourselves. We should begin to learn to ask for ourselves. Want and expect more, because you can never give to anyone, until your cup is full.

My friend, Vickiwhat, at some point began speaking with a group of women, who would later invite her and I to their box seats, where we finished the evening off, with our shoes off, sipping drinks, watching the show. ¬†As if all of this good fortune was not enough for our life changing weekend, at the end of the show we saw Oprah Winfrey back stage from our seats. We yelled, in unison, her name as she was walking through a doorway to leave. A moment after our chant, she then backed up, spotted us in the crowd, threw both hands in the air and gave us a double wave. Oprah Winfrey “saw” us! and waved!! I know this may not sound like a big deal to most, but for us, it’s what topped off the weekend. We will be forever grateful to the “Oprah Magic” and continue to have faith in gratitude and the power of believing.

The following are some nuggets of wisdom from the show. I can never try to explain what exactly transpired, but I vow that it was extremely moving, life altering and has changed my perception of the world.

“Whatever you are going through, you will get through, so just say “thank you.” – Oprah Winfrey

“The easiest way to change vibration (energy) is gratitude. You will draw other good vibration.” Oprah Winfrey

“Other¬†people¬†have no power in your¬†territory.”¬†– Oprah Winfrey

“What you pay attention to will expand.” – Oprah Winfrey (I like this one. Whatever you focus on, good or bad will grow.)

“Knowing what you don’t want is information leading towards what you want.” – Oprah Winfrey

“The purpose of the gift is to exercise the heart and inhibit aliveness, until your gift strikes the need of the world” – Mark Nepo

“It is better to live your own destiny imperfectly, than a perfect imitation of someone else’s life.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

“Do little things with great love. It all matters.” – Rob Bell

“To be the best, you have to say “no” to good.” – Rob Bell

“If you have made it through the past, then you past.” – Iylanda Vanzant

“Stop squeezing into things that do not fit you. Pay attention to how “it” makes you feel.” – Iylanda Vanzant

“Life says, “yes,” “no,” “stop,” “go.”” – Iyalnda Vanzant

“Courage is doing what you need to do before you are forced to do it, and if you don’t do it, don’t be mad at the people who force you to.” – Iylanda Vanzant

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Lock The Door

Some days my face is twisted with stress and my mind in spinning like a top. I am out of answers, dry of ideas and simply weak.¬† On those days your arms around me aren‚Äôt just a loving embrace, but my protection from all that I cannot fix.¬† I can hide my face in your chest and press the pause button, call a ‚Äútime out‚ÄĚ on life. You have an ability to sense when I cannot stand tall next to you as a partner. When I am fragile and run down, you don‚Äôt think twice or need to be asked, you instinctually know to carry me.¬† When I have a problem, you present a solution. When I am in trouble, I look for you to save me.¬† When we don‚Äôt have enough, you always get more.

When the chaos of the evening routine is in motion, you bring order. When tears swell up and slide down little cheeks, you can find laughter. You sharpen the pencils and break out the books to see them through their school work. You help dole out portions of a hearty meal to our little one’s hungry bellies and help pull their arms through their pajama shirts.  As bedtime draws near, you aid in scrubbing their little teeth clean and kiss them atop their head while pulling the blankets to their chin.

As nighttime arrives, our eyes are heavy and the day has ended, you are just starting to begin.  You collect your things and tie your laces, prepare your bag and get ready to leave.  One last kiss goodnight as you zipper your coat before it’s time to head out.  You walk down the stairs with your keys rattling in your hand and close the door behind you, for your day has just begun.  But before you start your car and travel to work and become  the person you need to be to do your job successfully, you always manage to take a second, even in the pouring rain or blistery snow, to turn around and lock the door. Of the many roles you play in our family, Dad, father, fixer, Santa, human toy, you always remember, without being asked, to be our protector.  You always lock the door.

My words will never be sufficient for the love and gratitude I have for you, so this will have to do.  With everything that I am and all that I stand for, please know that I love you deeply.

Now if you could just remember to take the garbage out with you!