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….

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.

🙂

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!) 🙂

Just the Right Moment

I am amazed as I have meandered in and out of your lives through a post here and a post there that I feel like I have been led into your living rooms and kitchens for a little chat…for you and me to share pieces of ourselves.  I have enjoyed your openness which has made me feel more welcome here, more like I belong.  Even though my mind has taken a bit longer than I would’ve wished to get back in the swing of writing and thinking and typing in a different paradigm following vacation and trauma modes, I have been met by new readers and lovely reminders that I can be imperfect yet lovable and perfectly myself.  Having said that, I would like to thank all of you and wish each of you well in your various spheres of life.  Even when your days become monotonous, you are still making a difference and have an important voice.

All my love and gratitude,
K. 🙂

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.  🙂  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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New Music Tuesday

I love Tuesdays!!!!!  Why?  Well, I’ll tell you.  Tuesday is not Monday (and though yesterday was a pretty good Monday, they are not generally consistently good, like Fridays).  And, Tuesday is my park day (unless it’s raining).  And, of course, Tuesday marks a new free single on iTunes, as well as new releases and updates on what is selling in the music world.  Fun times all around on Tuesday!

So, what’s free this week?  It’s a song entitled, “Fall Around” by a band called Smoke & Jackal.  It’s kinda mellow, and compared to the sounds of U2 from their Joshua Tree album on the review.  I kinda like it, but the sound bite is pretty repetitive….  Still, it’s FREE, so how can anyone complain?  Get it, or don’t, but no complaining.  🙂

So what’s hot and new?  The new Taylor Swift album, which has yet to be fully released, has been gaining major popularity, with catchy songs like, “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together.”  My daughter and I Googled the video for this last night while we were cooking dinner, and I couldn’t stop singing it all evening.  Then, we modified the lyrics after watching the new Justin Bieber/Nicki Minaj “Beauty and a Beat” video  promoted heavily on VEVO (which I frankly couldn’t finish watching) to sing, “We are never ever ever listening to Justin Bieber [again].”  Cuteness turned smut is just not my style, I guess.  Too much hand to crotch for my taste, and I certainly don’t want my kiddos thinking girls flipping through water in bikinis and bumping and grinding dancers are the norm.  Sorry.

I have felt the need to get back into music (which was very much a part of my life for most of my growing up years…anything from show tunes to sacred music to pop to alternative rock of the time…) after about a decade of vacation from popular music (mostly 2000-2010).  My kiddos started to listen to music they would hear at PE or learn from friends, and I thought I’d better be informed about what they were listening to instead of sticking my head in the sand.  Now, we have loaded iPods and a couple of those Just Dance games, but I try to make them aware of how music makes them feel (as well as the message of the words).

We recently had an issue with my boys, one in particular, loving a song about “party rock,” (which is defined by Urban Dictionary as a type of music, but is also defined as a type of crack cocaine).  Go figure.  They thought the song seemed harmless enough (dancing, partying); I thought the rhythms sounded like an orgasm or some type of high.  Who knew?  All I know is that I don’t want my pre-teen (or teenage, for that matter) children listening to it.  Again, I try to teach them that the feelings the music invokes (through rhythms, beats, etc.) are often as powerful (or in some cases more powerful, and more subtle) than what the words say (which is sometimes enough to keep a song from being played often in our home).  Some people don’t care, but I am not one of those people.

Music is very powerful within my psyche.  I can listen to music to laugh, dance, cry, rejoice, or empower.  In my younger years, I would use music at times to induce or feed a stupor or depressed state.  I realize not every one is affected by music so strongly, but who knows which one of my children will be highly affected or not?  I just feel the need to be careful.

So, my attempt to a “Happy Tuesday–free music” post has gone preachy…oh, well.  Maybe next week will be lighter!

Hugs till then!  –K