50 Days of Thanks

Will you join me?

As I have contemplated how much better I feel living in an attitude of gratitude, I have been seeking ways to further cultivate this virtue. Here are some steps and background that have led me to this place in my life:
1. A few years ago on my birthday, I decided to write and send a message of gratitude to a handful of friends I might have neglected to say how much their lives have blessed mine.
2. As our family experienced several life transitions which have brought many wonderful people in and out of our lives, I felt a great desire and need to thank them.
3. I LOVE receiving mail…and I think many people might feel much like I do. 🙂
4. Bringing happiness to people is one of my greatest joys in life.
5. I have been inspired repeatedly by the sharing of individuals such as Hannah Brencher, who sends messages of love to people she doesn’t even know.
Read more of her message here on her TED talk:

As you contemplate joining me, please consider:
1. How would you feel to be a recipient of a letter of gratitude this season?
2. Would your time be well spent sending messages of thanks to those you love?
3. Could you spare a few moments to write, spend a few pennies on a stamp, and open your heart?

If you answered “yes” to any or all of those questions, I pose yet one more: Will you join me?

I will be, over the course of the next few months, sending out messages of thanks to those in my life who have touched me. I bought a “value pack” of fifty Thank You cards at Hallmark a few weeks ago, followed by several sheets of FOREVER stamps at my local US Post Office. I am working to write, address, and mail each one of these cards before Thursday, November 28, 2013–Thanksgiving Day in the US.

(Yes, I realize that the calendar shows more than fifty days until November 28th–it’s more like 71 from today–but some of you may want to create your own cards or may need to schedule a trip to buy stamps–or you may take a day off every now and then on those super-busy days–and I wanted this to be possible for all of us. And, since the mail doesn’t run on Sundays, we need a few extra days anyway!) 🙂

And I would love to share the joy with you!  So, will you join me? (Even if you write one more Thank You note than you would’ve done, you will spread love and light into the world which will come back to you…I promise!)

Commit to join me on Facebook or in the comments here. I hope to be posting support and gratitude messages for the next several Thursdays….

The Truth About Happily Ever After

I would love to be profound for a moment…but I just don’t have it in me today.  Let me just share a few thoughts….

“Happily Ever After” doesn’t just happen. You make it happen. And, everyday you wake up and choose to stay in love, you choose to work out issues, you choose to forgive and forget, and you choose to stay with the person you committed to “Once Upon a Time.”


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Remember that?  How your story together began?  And, in the true nature of princesses and fairy tales, your goal was/is:

And-they-lived-happily-ever-after
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Right?  And everything between the ellipses was just witches and goblins and icky bad guys that you would conquer together, right?

Nope.

Sorry.

It’s not really that simple (and yet, in some ways, it is rather simple after all).

After a decade and a half in the same relationship, I have learned a few things that I would like to share with you now in a spirit of love and light and wanting to preserve and support relationships.

First of all, there are lots of moments and even days when I feel like this:

And sometimes I am so irritated, stressed out, exhausted, and who-knows-what-else that hearing a sweet love song like makes me want to spit.

Truly.

And I’m not good at spitting.

But, guess what?!?!?!?!?!

I stick around this relationship. Not because I want to feel crummy…but because I know that we are building something together. We are building a life, a family, our faith, and a future. You see, I don’t believe that relationships end at death.  I believe that we will be able to carry on our family and marriage relationships in the life after this if we will keep working through our issues and pulling together.

I know that media and maybe even the experiences of others might say that the grass could be greener in some other relationship. But, I made a commitment to this guy several years ago. More than that, I made a commitment (and covenant) with God years ago that I would stick with this guy. So, I’m not leaving. Even though hard things may come our way, I can do hard things. And I can do them even better when I have the help of heaven and this really cute guy I married.

So what if we are getting old? We are getting old together. So what if our hair is turning grey (me) or disappearing (him)? We make adjustments. So what if some mornings we irritate each other so much that we are happy to say goodbye? We usually make up during the day and are so anxious to be back in each other’s arms at the conclusion of the day.

Here’s my bottom line. Marriage is hard. It takes work. But it is sooooooo worth it.

On a more personal note, I used to hear lots of people say with regard to marriage that they loved their wife or husband more today than they did when they were married. For the first several years of our marriage, I didn’t understand those statements. I vacillated back and forth between super-in-love-happy to I-can’t-stand-you-right-now-and-I-need-to-go-run-before-I-say-something-else-hurtful-I-will-regret-later. I didn’t know if I would ever get past that point. But, eventually I did. And now I recognize that the need-to-go-running moments are less frequent and the in-love moments are more frequent (maybe that’s what those old married couples meant?)…and I’ve learned to weather and wait out the crazy times knowing that the bliss will return again at some point.

And I’m willing to wait for it and to work for it…’cause marriage is worth it.

And bliss is really sweet.

And I want to be with this guy for a lot longer than the rest of my life.

Help a Girl Out…

As I’ve been working on spending more quality time in real (face-to-face) communication, conversation, and support of those I love, I have had a few thoughts.  Maybe because I have been thinking of the many awesome women in my life, and maybe because we just celebrated the connections of mothers earlier this month, and maybe because two of my good friends just gave birth to beautiful baby girls…and maybe just cuz I was vacuuming yesterday (and I ponder through the white noise of the little sucking machine that makes my cute rugs look polished)…but I’ve been thinking of how we need to let go of the catty comparisons and the vengeful feelings we have for other women and help each other walk a little taller.

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Could we do that?

I know I’m guilty of judging others and comparing my own weaknesses to others’ strengths.  I look at other women and wonder, “why can’t I (have/look like/be more)_________________ like so-and-so?”  When I give in to such comparisons, I not only degrade myself but I create contention between myself and another woman.  (And, honestly, she may be saying the same thing about me.)  When we live in Judgementland or Comparisonville, we are never at rest or at peace. 😦

Can’t we just enjoy the good in others…and the good in ourselves…and help support other women in our lives?


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In an interaction with a friend recently, she mentioned that she began saying to the little people in her home, “I love everything about you!”  She said that her little people really responded to those words.  Through her example, I wanted to try it.  Of course, I thought to do it on one of the most disruptive mornings lately…and I was feeling frustrated and felt more like saying to my little people, “I see lots of things you need to work on and change.”  Still, I persisted, trying to find a moment to share this with at least one of them….  I do love everything about them–their idiosyncracies along with their personalities and happiness and even the troubles that come as they learn and grow into who they need to be.

I found a moment with my daughter when we were alone in a room, and I leaned toward her ear and softly spoke, “I love everything about you.”


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She seemed dumbstruck.

So, I said it again.  “I love everything about you.”

She looked at me incredulously.  I affirmed my statement while wondering when the last time (if ever) she would’ve felt that she was completely, incomprehensibly, and absolutely loved.  I have decided to share this idea with her more, along with my other children…and even the other women in my life, as many of them struggle (as I do) with feeling worthy, accepted, and loved.

Are you in this boat with us?  And can we work together to stay afloat and reach the shore and live in the cities of Love and Acceptance together…the way we are now.


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The Me You See

You’ll have to forgive the cheesy rhyming nature of the lines below (I beg of you, please). This topic is one I have given a great deal of thought, and after yesterday’s post, I had to get it down in word form (April is National Poetry Month, after all). Pardon me, also, for making the topic a little lighter with the rhyming nature…I guess I’m not exactly ready to deal with it seriously yet. Here you go!

Please acquaint me with the me you see.
I have such trouble sensing my own beauty.
Could it just be modesty?
Or denying myself the pure ecstasy
Of knowing who I could really be?

Let’s have a chat, just you and me
I’ll buy the scones, you bring the tea,
And we’ll sit on a balcony
And I’ll introduce you as you introduce me
To the joy of each other’s me we see.

I wonder if you could take the time this week (or during the rest of this blessed month of April) to help someone see themselves the way you see them, without his or her own self-criticism seeping through every thought. Could you write a letter? Send an email? FB message? Tweet? Or blog post? I will do the same. Decide today…before an upcoming (maybe tomorrow?) post when I have another invitation to offer! If you will join me, please share in the comments (or at least like this post) and follow-up after you have completed your intention. I’d love to hear what you decided to do and how it went!
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Happy New Year!

I’ve missed being here in my own little corner of cyberspace!  I had intentions of beginning again when my little people started back to school, but an unexpected accident (are accidents always unexpected? Was that redundant?…I apologize…I’ve been through a bit of trauma in the last few days and am hoping to have my wits about me again before the end of the week…but who knows?)…anyway, I’ve been in and out of the ER, doc’s offices, and surgical center with someone in my life this week.  I’m looking forward to some peace and quiet (does that really exist?) soon.  Maybe.

So, I’ve been thinking since the opening of 2013 on the blessings I receive through the generosity of others and how recognizing their kindnesses gives me energy to go out of my comfort zone and bless the lives of others.

Take last week for example.  I spent one day having a friend and her children visit…and, while we chatted in the kitchen, she grabbed a rag and began wiping down my stove.  She inquired whether or not it would bother me (and it didn’t, so she continued).

We also were able to have dinner with some dear friends in their home.  They let our children meander through various activities (including helping with dinner and dessert preparations) while making our family feel welcomed, valued, and loved.  And my heart was full.

So, the next day, as I thought of a friend who was suffering with sickness in her home, I prepared a meal to take to her family.  I felt so happy and grateful to be able to spread around the kindness and feelings of love that had been recently extended to me.

As we have had this trauma experience as of late, I have continued to be grateful for the helping hands, encouraging emails or phone calls, and the prayers offered in our family’s behalf.  We have been blessed beyond measure through this experience.

I hope that 2013 finds you well and happily filling your days with love and light!  Sending hugs to you and yours! (I’ve missed you…and writing…and blogging…and hearing your stories!)

Simple Gifts


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I still remember a song I learned when I was…who knows how old I was?  I’ve known it for as long as I can remember.  The song, “Simple Gifts,” is a Shaker song written and composed in 1848 by Elder Joseph Brackett.  Would you like to hear Jewel’s rendition? (It’s the only one I could find on YouTube, so it will have to suffice.)  Here you go:  Simple Gifts

We have each been given gifts…gifts of life, gifts to give and receive love, gifts of faith in God or fellowmen (or both), gifts of writing, gifts of goodness, gifts to share and gifts to develop.  Gifts can be moments of peace and tranquility.  Gifts can also be found in packages of adversity, where we learn more about ourselves and our abilities to carry on and to triumph.  Whatever your gifts are, I hope that you will recognize that you are amazing!

In this post, I invited you to join my family as we have sought to recognize and develop the gifts we have been given.  Did you take me up on that?  We’ve had almost two weeks since that post, and I’m wondering what you have discovered.  I have been working on developing my gifts to cook and bake, to sing, and to continue writing and editing the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo…and I am working to connect with you through blogging while reading and commenting on your blogs.  I applaud your efforts.  🙂

While searching for our own gifts, let’s also look for the gifts of those within our sphere of influence.  Maybe someone did something kind for you.  (Yesterday, after a lengthy visit (with a somewhat fussy preschooler) at a store, I purchased said fussy preschooler a drink.  As we were shuffling items around a shopping cart, the two of us managed to dump said drink all over the floor.  And the drink was sticky.  And the floor was soaked with a big mess.

A fellow customer went to grab an employee, who quickly flagged the slippery, sticky area and mopped the spill.  I was so grateful for both of those people.  They took initiative and helped a tired mom with a fussy little person.  Sure, someone could argue that the employee was just “doing his job,” but to me his work meant so much more.  He was helping me rectify a mistake I made.  And I was grateful for him.)

Two Mondays ago, on our weekly family evening, we passed around papers where each person in our family wrote one item which we recognized as a gift in another person.  My page looked something like this:

MOM
You are good at playing the piano.  Mom is good at cooking.  Mom is very patient and forgiving of us.  You are so nice and you help me with everything! I wouldn’t have lived without you…literally! 🙂  You are very caring!

Now, while I wouldn’t own all of those kind thoughts from my sweet family (especially the piano one), some of the people who know me best have helped me see some of my gifts.  And, I think that since they were looking for positive attributes in other members of our home, they have each been more positive since the night we did that activity together.

So, in the busyness of this holiday season, I challenge you to take a moment to think of the gifts you possess that you cannot purchase from a store…as those may be the simplest (and most profound) gifts of all!

Choices

As I approach the dashboard of my blog to write this Monday morning, my heart is (honestly) a little heavy.  I know I can sit here and recount the conversations of the weekend and how we are all really no less safe than we were four days ago…but we may feel like we are.  I know I can ignore what I am feeling, as well, and get lost in some editing or fiction writing or a book or movie.  I also know that I can take my advice from Friday (which I posted before the news hit) and count my blessings.  I think I will choose the last.

(I would be dishonest to say that I didn’t hug my little ones a little tighter before they left my door this morning, though.)

I am so very blessed in my life.  Currently, I live in a more-than-ample house with a kitchen I adore using.  I have beautiful, insightful children who impart wisdom to me daily.  I have a handsome husband who loves me in spite of my multitude of flaws, shortcomings, and occasional sadness over situations I cannot control.  I was raised by good parents.  I have amazing friends and family members.  I can rock heels.  (And, last week, I even found brown boots…but that is another story!)

Somehow choosing to focus on the vast blessings before me helps my heart feel a little lighter.  I will try to choose happiness instead of feeding the negative feelings bouncing around my head of fear and uncertainty.  I will count a few more blessings along my path today…and among them will be you, my dear readers.  🙂

Thanks for listening…and reading.  I appreciate you more than you know.