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. ūüôā
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!) ūüôā

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….

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Random Thoughts

I used to listen to Matchbox 20 on Mix 106 out of Tavares, FL before they were picked up by a label.

I don’t really have any memories before age 5…and very few specific memories between 5 and 15.

I only find myself singing when I am really, truly happy.

I’m working on self-confidence.

I liked alternative music when it was still called progressive.

I have several children.

I love to paint but rarely do it.

I love to bake and do that more often than I should.

I like the rain when the air is warm.

I hate wearing shoes but love my heels, platforms, and wedges.

I adore my husband.

I LOVE sunshine.

I would sleep in some days if my family life would permit it.

I like to exercise.

I thrive on progress.

I love to study, write, and discuss myriad topics.

I believe in God as a loving, caring, forgiving Being who is in the details of our lives.

I’m learning to like myself.

I’m trying to be happy where I am.

I have lots of love for others.

I like to help people.

I believe that I can see my family forever, even after death, in another more peaceful existence.

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Thank…Whom?

A while ago, I was speaking to a woman of great influence in my life.  During the brief conversation, she asked me if I would be willing to write a letter of gratitude.

Sure, I thought.¬† How hard could that be?¬† I am blessed by many people who perform kind and generous acts toward my family and toward me personally.¬† I could just pick one individual and write the letter.¬† Actually, the most difficult part might be to find some stationary…(and don’t get me started on the lost art of writing letters…that post will have to wait for another day).

Then, she finished her thought (yes, I do sometimes interrupt conversation with my own thoughts) by saying, “to yourself.”

UGH.

A letter of gratitude…to myself?¬† Really?¬† What could I possibly thank myself for doing?¬† Keeping my cool when my kiddo punched me unintentionally the other day?¬† Cooking dinner?¬† Nah.¬† That’s just stuff that goes along with life, right?

Well, I let the thought sit in my brain for a while (haunt my brain, infect my mind, are you getting the picture?).¬† I didn’t know what I would write–and I had no stationary to speak of, anyway–but while I was writing in my journal a few days later, I decided that maybe I could do some “pre-writing” exercises for this letter…like, I could probably manage a few things I was thankful to myself for…maybe in bulleted form.¬† Sure.¬† I could start there.¬† At first, the bullets came slowly…but as I continued to think of positive aspects of my personality, talents I have worked to develop, and acts of kindness I perform, my list began to flow.

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Along with a few other changes I’ve been making in my life related to positivity, exercise, outlook, and cultivating hope, I will say that writing a “letter” (list) of thanks to myself has allowed me a shift in perspective.¬† I am excited for the opportunity to look with gratitude toward the activities I accomplish and the work I am doing…and to recognize these aspects of my existence with thanks.

So, will you write a letter of gratitude to yourself? Will the task be an easy or challenging one for you? As I’m writing this, I’m wondering if I might extend this invitation to my family and see how they react to the assignment.

And, because you may find yourself in need of some musical inspiration, here’s Natalie Merchant with a couple of amazing songs this fine Friday! (Two versions of her “Kind and Generous” and one “These Are Days” with 10,000 Maniacs–enjoy!) ūüôā

Being Conscious

As I sit here tapping away on my¬†keyboard to “Radio” by Hot Chelle Rae (how cute is that song?) and sipping on my protein shake following a decent workout, I’m pondering a thought from Honest Rachael, who posted to the world about spreading a little more love throughout the entire month of February.¬† I loved her insightful blog post and commented that I would join her in spreading a little more¬†love throughout the month.¬† The thought I had this morning, though, is that in order to spread love or give of ourselves or do anything somewhat extraordinary (which happens daily for some people) is to BE CONSCIOUS.

If I just go along my merry way, letting life take me where it will, then I will most likely be tossed to and fro (physically as well as emotionally) without truly regarding my own personal power to do something.¬† I can do my little workout each morning, spend time in¬†personal devotion, write a blog, do dishes &¬†laundry, cook, clean, and do whatever else I do in a given day with little motivation or notice of the days and weeks and months and years that pass…or I can be conscious of my life and my time and live deliberately–making goals and feeling accomplishment and power and influence.

I have been touched by those who live to conquer fear and reach their goals–no matter how lofty and far-reaching.¬† One of these people is Evan Sanders, who recently completed a book and writes a blog¬†about becoming a better man.¬† I admire his courage and leaps of faith as he has struggled through adversities with amazing positivity and the vision of what he wants to do and who he will become.¬† Way to go, Evan!¬† Just reading a post from him gives me a push to keep going and want to be better.¬† ūüôā

Well, my protein shake is almost done, and I need to hit the shower…but I will leave you with this question, a thought, and a few Happy Monday tunes.¬† First the question:¬† How can you be more conscious of your decisions and the way you spend your time?

Here’s the thought:¬† You have personal power and the love you show may be someone else’s inspiration…so get to work!!!!

And, of course, the music: ūüôā



And, as always, HUGS!

gifts…and happy weekend wishes to you!

One morning recently, during our daily reading and study as a family, we talked to our children about recognizing and realizing the gifts they have been given.¬† Not the physical gifts, mind you…we were asking them to figure out what gifts they have been given naturally or that need to be recognized and developed to come to greater fruition to help them and others throughout this journey we call life.

Now that I’m blogging, I am reminded of a book entitled The Twelve Gifts of Birth, which my mother found when I was a teenager and read to me then.¬† I haven’t read it often to my children, but I would like for them to realize the concept.

I find that when I am looking to recognize my gifts that I also work to recognize the gifts in others…which produces positivity and happiness within me and love for those around me as I see them in a new light.¬†¬†I see within them¬†the potential for greatness.

What gifts have you been given?  And what are you doing to develop those gifts more fully?

I’ve given my children the assignment to ponder over the coming days with the goal to reconvene to discuss our findings…and my husband and I are working on the challenge with them.¬† Will you join us?¬† We can adopt each other as family for the week and think of what talents, gifts, and light we have been given…and seek inspiration on what we can do to magnify these gifts in our lives.¬† ūüôā¬† I’m interested to see what we discover about ourselves and others in the process!

Give and Take

Sometimes we try to give more than we have…sometimes we take more than we should.

When we are children, we often take…and take…and take some more.¬† We take knowledge from teachers, wisdom from parents, and energy from the world.¬† We take life, money, hugs, kisses, tears, and habits from those around us willing to give.

When we have children, we give…and give…and give some more.¬† Sometimes parents feel no end to the constant giving of time and energy devoted to raising our children, loving them in the way they need to feel love, and disciplining in a way that is meaningful to them, as well.

When we are sick, we take…and take.¬† We take medicines, energy, and support from our caregivers.¬† We take healing from prayers and hope and faith.

When we are well, we give…and give.¬† We give treats to neighbors, kind words to those feeling lonely, carefully typed comments on someone’s blog.

When the holidays come around, we give.  We give canned food to shelters, toys to children, and money to charity.

When we get married, we give…and take.¬† We give ourselves to one another in the name of union and love…and we take companionship, love, connection (which hopefully is shared more than taken).

Where are you on the continuum of giving and taking…and which feels more fulfilling?

I follow the posts from HONY¬†(Humans of New York)¬†on Facebook…and the post came yesterday that Brandon is taking a trip after no breaks for two years.¬† He has given many people a view of New York through its people that we could not experience without the power of his photography and the internet by which he shares his images.¬† He has given for two years and (hopefully) will now be able to take a break and bask in the blessing of the gift he has given the world through this creative project he has undertaken.

My husband asked me the other day, “What do you find most challenging?”¬† A flood of thoughts poured into my mind, including my writing challenges, keeping up with kiddos’ schedules and homework assignments, making time to refill myself so I have something to give…but my reply came simply, in one word.

“Balance.”

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The Product of NaNoWriMo 2012

As promised, I am recording for posterity (and my lovely blog readers) the lessons I have learned over the past weeks since I made a spontaneous decision to enter NaNoWriMo 2012.¬†¬†(I was serious blogging about whether or not to do it…having done no outlining or¬†anything…and just did it on a whim thanks to the encouragement¬†of a few lovely voices!…& I thank you sincerely Marissa¬†and Darcy!)¬† Here we go, in no particular order…:

  • Prayer works.¬† (Not that I didn’t know this prior to Nov. 1, 2012; it was just reaffirmed to me….)
  • Productivity produces energy.
  • Support from those you love is vital for success!
  • Goals can be accomplished…(and a lot more, too!).
  • I CAN WRITE!!!!!
  • Being purely creative is energizing.
  • My family, friends (& I) love me!
  • Even with road blocks (scheduling, sickness, holidays, etc.)~keep moving forward….! (See Meet the Robinsons for more info on this topic.)
  • God is aware of me and loves me!
  • I HAVE A VOICE (and an important one, at that)!
  • I can cultivate creativity…and a writing mood.
  • Breaks are important.¬† (I took every Sunday off…and a few other¬†Thursdays sprinkled in the month, as well.)
  • When all else fails, have a dance party with¬†the kiddos (…or with friends…or by yourself…)!
  • Have munchies around always.¬† (I had a Swiss Cake Roll emergency…luckily for me, I did have some left-over Double Stuf Oreos which satisfied the chocolate/creamy craving.)¬† ūüôā
  • Buy back your kids’ Halloween candy and use it for NaNoWriMo¬†snacks…and to last until NaNoWriMo is over and you start making¬†Christmas candy.
  • Spotify created great mood music when I needed it…and was a great resource for the karaoke scene I wrote.
  • You can always edit later.

In the past few days, I have listened to some of the songs on Alicia Keys’ new album–and the chorus and several lines¬†of this song¬†resonate with me.¬† I do feel like a “Brand New Me.”

The only time I recently felt this kind of growth and accomplishment is when I worked and trained for (& completed) a half-marathon with a dear friend of mine…something about measurable success.¬† Hopefully, though,¬†I will write more novels than the number of races I’ve run…! ūüôā

Hugs!