"In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy." Brother David Steindl-Rast

Friday, September 19, 2014

Most and Best, Least and Worst

Today I am grateful for the little things like a kind woman sharing a coupon at the pizza place, seeing a recovery friend on my run, hearing some good songs, and enjoying some of that pizza deal.

The little things really do matter. Gratitude practice has taught me that. If I am only focused on acquiring the biggies of life-family, home, job, material goods and such-I will miss all the little gifts-a cool breeze, a sip of coffee, working ears to hear a favorite song. In the process of noticing the little gifts, it becomes clear that they are really the biggies because they enrich life day in and day out.

This was a recent quote in my gratitude journal:

"This is contentment: to have the most and best in life by making the most and best of what we have." (Maltbie  Davenport Babcock) 

Contentment used to be elusive to me. That had as much to do with my alcoholic thinking as anything, but it impacted all areas of my life. Instead of looking for the most and best, I often dwelled on how I felt the least and worst. Thoughts are powerful. Mine pulled me down.

Applying a grateful frame of mind builds me up. It builds up my perception of self and surrounding world to allow contentment in the present moment. Could things be better? Sure. Could I have more? Sure. But I have what I need and much more than I deserve. Seeing the most and best in others, myself, and the world all create that expansive sense of gratitude I mentioned yesterday. Seeing the least and worst only served to constrict my already dark view.

There is gratitude on the horizon today. I will look for the most and best as the day unfolds.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Post #800: Expansive Gratitude

Today I am grateful for those who are faithful readers of my blog. I am also grateful to the women in my local breast cancer support group and their kind and supportive ways.

Today marks a blogging milestone for me. This is post #800. One word at a time. One post at a time. One day at a time.

This was a recent quote from my gratitude journal and it fits nicely in this post:

"There's a self-expansive aspect of gratitude. Very possibly it's a little known law of Nature the more gratitude you have, the more you have to be grateful for." (Elaine St. James)

Beautiful and true words. This little known law of nature has been playing out in my life for nearly two decades, and playing out in this blog for 2 1/2 years. Gratitude practice is about far more than saying thank you. It is about seeing with a new pair of glasses, about changing a "less-than" perspective to a "more-than-enough" one.

I looked back at the post titles for my other century markers and they create a good summary. Here they are:

"100 Posts . . . One Post at a Time" Read it here.
"200 and Counting" Read it here.
"Post #300: The Great Fullness of Life" Read it here.
"Post #400: Inspiration, Not Drudgery" Read it here.
"Post #500: Antidote Multiplication" Read it here.
"Post #600: Onward!" Read it here.
"Post #700: Still Writing" Read it here.

As my profile states, gratitude practice is some of the best work that I do. It truly is expansive, and giving it thought and energy on a regular basis via this blog has only been more expansive.

It's not a fancy or flashy blog. It's "meat and potatoes" gratitude practice. It has made all the difference in my life. I hope some posts have made a difference to you too. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Freedom in Forgiving

Today I am grateful for a gorgeous evening for a solitary bike ride last evening. I am also grateful for a phone conversation with my friend Jill.

I went to church services on Sunday and have had the sermon message flitting in and out of my mind since. The message was one of forgiveness, unconditional forgiveness. Forgiveness is more for the person doing the forgiving than the person being forgiven. If someone is unable to forgive, at the least it can take the joy out of today and at the worst it can destroy them.

In my life, the person I have had the toughest time forgiving is myself. Thankfully, I have made progress in being kinder and gentler with myself. It takes intentional actions and efforts though. Gratitude practice is one of those key actions and efforts. When we recognize and sense more good in the world around us, we tend to recognize and sense more good in ourselves as well.

Forgiveness also reminds me of the line "Bless them, change me." If I am needing to forgive someone else, needing to squelch a growing resentment, it is more about me letting go of what they did or didn't do and instead focusing on what I need to do. That frees my energy up for the right efforts, the right actions. That is better than wasting energy in my head regarding the perceived wrong I think was done to me.

Forgiveness truly does bring freedom. Today I will look for when and where I need to apply some forgiveness, of self and others.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Go.

Today I am grateful for my job and the opportunity to meet the parents of students I work with. I am also grateful for what work experience has taught me professionally and personally.

Go! Ready. Set. Go. The preparing and waiting are over. It is time to proceed. We can go fast, slow, reverently, or haphazardly. In any given circumstance, one of these approaches may be absolutely the right way. The trick is knowing which approach is best when. The better I know myself, the better I am at knowing when and how to move forward. Denial, fear, and ego all have a way of clouding my judgment and misdirecting. The more willingness and humility I have, the more effectively I go.

This quote from www.gratefulness.org's "Word for the Day" a couple days ago was:

"And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings." (Meister Eckhart)

Ready. Set. Go. The magic of beginnings can be as simple as starting my day with a little gratitude to help keep my perspective healthy and positive. Or as significant as being at the starting line with hundreds or thousands of other runners to begin a 26.2 mile journey. Or as life-changing as choosing to stay sober today.

Trusting myself, the direction and flow of life, and trusting a power beyond myself are all good things to pack before I "go."

I will take a grateful attitude with me as I go ahead into this day.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Set.

Today I am grateful for a game of catch with my son Sam yesterday. I am also grateful for conversations that help me grow in understanding.

Set is today's word. Ready. Set. This may be the toughest of the three words I am posting about. Set. Wait. Patience. That's what comes to my mind. I may want to go, I may feel the need to proceed, but something says "set" and that I need to give it a little more time.

Having been a track runner, I am comfortable in the "set" that is heard at the starting line. It is only a moment, and then we are off to the races, literally. The tougher "set" is the stuff of waiting and being patient when I want answers now, when I want a resolution as soon as possible, when I want to move beyond these unpleasant feelings.

I only set myself up for more frustration and unpleasantness if I proceed too quickly in certain situations, or if I enter a situation that really isn't my business. Sometimes set means set yourself aside. Get out of the way.

"Set" can be a challenge, but it's necessary. Whether in that brief moment at the start of a real race; coiled, tightly wound, waiting for the go-ahead to unwind, to spring forward. Or in those longer time periods that life requires; when we simply need to wait for things to play out as they are meant to, when we need to resist the urge to try to force an outcome, when we need to trust others and our Higher Power.

Set. Set yourself up for a good day by letting life unfold rather than causing it to unravel.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Ready.

Today I am grateful for connecting with my siblings via email and phone calls. I am also grateful for a good training run yesterday on a beautiful morning. The early morning sun coming through the trees was a treat to witness.

Ready. Set. Go. Familiar words in life. They each have their own importance, and unlike the start of a race or run, don't always follow in quick succession. Nor should they. It's worth giving each word their own post. Today's word is ready.

Ready can be about facing something we have put off. Maybe it was fear holding us back, or we needed to have money saved up, or we wanted to stay in that buffer of denial. Ready means moving forward with faith and courage. Ready means being okay with not knowing the exact outcome, the reaction others may have, but knowing we will be able to handle whatever comes our way.

Ready can be an open-minded approach to a new day. I am best ready for a fresh 24 hours when I start with some time to myself and to gather my focus in the present moment. Doing some prayer and meditation helps me gather my focus. Writing some thoughts in my gratitude journal helps bring mindfulness to my approach.

And sometimes "ready" is the ready we hear at the starting line of a race. The training is over, the day has arrived. My husband Darcy and I work for months to be ready at the start line of each of our marathons. There is joy in that work, and there is exhaustion, but there is always motivation. For that, I am very grateful.

Ready. The day is ahead. Onward.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Opportunity, Not Drudgery

Today I am grateful for a nice morning for a run, for my job rewards and challenges, for the new people I am getting to know.

The last line in my post yesterday gave me the idea for today's post: "I am glad to be here and I look at today as an opportunity, not drudgery."

Do some things get a little old? Sure. But without gratitude practice, I think they would feel older and so would I.

Take doing the laundry for example. It can get old, it can feel like drudgery at times. But then I start considering things like a working washer and dryer, family to do laundry for, money for fresh-smelling detergent, being able-bodied enough to make trips up and down the stairs, having clothes to wash, the satisfaction of putting clean clothes back in drawers and closets. It doesn't mean I am whistling and skipping by the time I am done, but it's more of an energy builder than energy drainer when I frame it in gratitude.

Doing this blog has yet to feel like drudgery. There may be times when I am tired and lacking inspiration, or when I feel short on time. But not drudgery. Each post is an opportunity to honor the writer in me, to continue the practice of gratitude, to reach out to others.

Attitude IS everything. I need help maintaining a positive attitude and gratitude practice is one of my best helpers.

Today is an opportunity. I will treat it as such.