Category Archives: Gratitude

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10 Ways to Become More Grateful


I came across this article several months ago and copied the link into a draft post.  Then, I forgot about it.  My Posts page is full of odds and ends like this:  unusual, or insightful, or beautiful, or funny things that I’ve run across, hit the “PRESS THIS” button, and then promptly forgotten about.

The link below, though, should not be forgotten.   I don’t know that thinking positively always will turn your life around, but I think it holds lots of potential for putting things in perspective and helping one “get a grip” on life.   Let’s face it:  life can be tough.   For some, it is tougher — unimaginably tougher — than for others.  Some people, even when surrounded by an abundance of good fortune, whine, complain, and bemoan their state of being.  Other people, faced with adversities that can seem insurmountable to some, are occasionally  able to appear as if they don’t have a care in the world.   I don’t know that thinking positively alone can help one cultivate either good-fortune or a positive attitude.

But, for one who knows that they are fortunate yet is feeling overwhelmed, or burdened, or focusing too much on the negative or what they don’t have, I can see how cultivating an attitude of gratefulness can influence one’s perspective, lighten one’s burdensome anxieties, make one more grateful for what they do have.

I think this list of 10 suggestions is a good one.  You may not chose to implement all of these suggestions — at least not at once — but they are words to remind oneself of on a regular basis.

10 Ways to Become More Grateful | Greater Good

An Unheralded Milestone


As a parent, there are milestones that nearly everyone seems to remember: when your child got his first tooth, took the first wobbly steps, spoke the first words. As they grow older, other milestones loom on the horizon for a time, and then fade into the recesses of scrapbooks and memories: first day of school, first sports team, first recognition for something in his class, first night away from parents, summer camp, first crush.

Each year is full of many such memories and they go quickly. How many parents haven’t shook their heads as high school graduation approached and wondered how those 18 years sped by so quickly?  As my friends’ children have left the nest, their paths and timelines have differed from my child’s. Even most of his friends have taken different routes, each exiting from the parental highway at different points, ready to travel their own adult paths. Most of my son’s high school friends had graduated from college last year and all have landed jobs.  B, however, was in a five-year program and has had to plow through the last 18 months knowing that his goal lay a little further down the road.

Now, with only a few more page flips of the calendar, graduation will be here — and, just as quickly, will be gone. This signals big changes for both my son and for me. Two days after earning his degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Purdue, he will be commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Air Force. About a month later, he will report for active duty and will begin his flight training programs. Although I’ve known for five years that this was his plan — his choice, his path — it all became very real, full with a few moments of palpable anxiety when he told me last week that he had received his official orders. I know that the next two months will be full of milestones, big and small.

Today, he was in town for a dental appointment. After the teeth cleaning and the saying of goodbyes and wishes of much success from our dentist (who is also, I learned today, a pilot), I drove him back to Purdue. Standing on the front porch of his stereotypical ramshackle off-campus student house, I turned to him and said: “Well, I guess I’ve fulfilled my parental duties as far as dental care goes.”

B smiled.

And you have pretty teeth too!” I added.

“I still don’t — and won’t — smile showing my teeth. Animals see it as an act of aggression, you know.  Domination” he replied. We both laughed.

“You did a good job” he said. His freshly polished teeth gleaned in the bright afternoon sun. “No cavities.  Ever.”

It’s just a small milestone, one that will fade with time. All those little milestones have filled closets with mementos and my brain with memories, catches of small moments throughout the last 23 years. It makes me feel good, proud, with just a little bit longing for that small boy who is now a man.

When I arrived home, I placed my keys and phone on my desk. Two of my favorite pictures of B have a permanent place on my workspace: one when he was 19 in which he looks quite handsome; in the other, taken at about 9 years of age, he is wearing a bright green shirt that made his hazel-grey eyes look like sparkling emeralds. He is smiling — big tooth-bearing smiles — in both of them.

I removed the back of the older frame to look through all of the other school photos. I laughed loudly, though nobody was home to hear it. In all but two photos, taken during those surly middle-school years, you can see his teeth. I won’t tell him this. He might see it as a sign of motherly aggression and domination. Instead, I’ll just smile, proudly. “No cavities” might not have been what I thought would herald the beginning of this transition, but I think it will remain for while, reminding me that I’ve done a good job indeed and that we are now at the finish line of one phase and at the start of a new beginning.

Friday: Photo & Bliss


Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.

This week’s Photo Friday Challenge was “Handsome”. This is the type of challenge that initially frustrates me. I immediately thought “portrait of handsome man”, which would be problematic for me as I don’t typically shoot portraits. I have a great photo of my son, taken two years ago, in which he looks, in my opinion, very handsome. He dislikes the photo because he is unshaven, and he thinks he looks like he has a double-chin. I wouldn’t post at anyway, because it is a rule that we have that I won’t do that. My next thought was that I could post a picture of a Handsome Cab, but then I remembered that it is HANSOM CAB, not HANDSOME Cab, and I’m not nearby any place that would have such a vehicle.

And then, this story landed in my lap in the most unexpected place: my aunt’s funeral: My cousin gave the eulogy. He reminded us of how his late father would come home each evening and, smiling, announce “Handsome’s home.” This was quite the joke with his kids as they grew older. Several years ago my aunt, coming out of anesthesia, asked a nurse, in the silliest of ways: “Am I beautiful?” This was repeated to her later, after the drugs wore off. It, too, was a joke with her children. The nicknames “Handsome” and “Beautiful” stuck with them for the rest of their lives. It was a beautiful memory for my cousin to share about his parents, who were lovely and loving people who lived long, happy lives that touched many people.

My aunt loved birds. As I was thinking about her and this story, I thought of this photograph that I took earlier in the week of two Canadian Geese, sitting quietly on a small island in a pond. I had been taking pictures of the water when I realized the birds were there. Canadian geese mate for life. These two seem like a content couple, happy to be blending into the background. My aunt and uncle were just two normal people. In a crowd, you might not notice them. To each other, though, they were Handsome and Beautiful. In honor of my aunt & uncle, I name the geese in this photo Handsome & Beautiful. My aunt would like that I think — and would likely have something quite witty to say about a goose being named after her!

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On a completely different emotional note, here is my bliss list, in no particular order, for this week. See links to others’ lists here. Thanks, Liv Lane for sponsoring this.

1. Having the time to take long walks this week.
2. Hearing the frost melt in the woods.
3. Getting such wonderful feedback from visitors to my blog on my photographs.
4. Spending time with family. (Son home from college this weekend = smiles.)
5. Sharing laughs and fond memories with extended family. There are always more laughs than tears at funerals in my family. I think that it should be that way.

1000 Mitzvahs. 1000 Acts of Kindness.


Sometimes the universe sends messages — repeatedly — just in case I didn’t hear it the first time.

First message: when looking for a document from some time ago, I came upon this quote that I had not read in a few years, attributed to Henri Frederic Amiel:

Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love; make haste to be kind.

This is one of those messages that can seem merely a seasonal sentiment during this time of year. But, shouldn’t we think of this throughout the year? Be swift to love. Make haste to be kind. Gladden hearts. I think that is beautiful.

Second message: This morning I saw this on a friend’s Facebook page:

I encourage you to watch it before reading further. It should make you smile. Swiftly, with haste: love and kindness.

Third message: At Positively Positive blog, this post on the power of giving, which lead me to 1000 Mitzvahs. And this blog, too: Resolve to Give

Every.Single.Day. That can’t be too hard, can it?

Gratitude


3 things I’m grateful for:

1) My crazy spun-in-a-blender (vs “blended”) family, with all their quirks and differences. And especially, my husband, who has had to put up with a lot of my family stuff recently and has been very understanding about it.

2) That the leaves on the trees are starting to turn. I’ll miss summer, but I like to watch the leaves reveal their true colors. It always fascinates me that the color in leaves is there all the time, but that we only see it once they stop photosynthesizing and producing chlorophyll.

3) That the library sends email notifications before books are due. Since the local library and I just became friends again (I know some would be aghast that I haven’t made use of the library for a few years; others at the amount I’ve spent in bookstores during the same timeframe), I have determined to not accumulate late charges. Have only read 2 out of the 5 books. How could it be time to return them already?

Soon the woods will look like this: crisp autumn morning

>Gratitude and Grace


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The house is starting to overflow with the aroma of spices and cooked foods. Colorful entrees are starting to be lined up on the counter – a golden brown pumpkin pie, a bright orange sweet potato casserole, crimson-colored cranberry sauce, green Brussels sprouts and apples, deep plum-red wine – waiting to be boxed for transport to my sister’s house where they will be placed on the table with turkey, stuffing, salad, mashed potatoes, and other pies. We’ll have a toast of champagne and share something for which we are thankful before we sit down to eat. Despite occasional failures, disappointments and setbacks, a troubled world that sometimes seems on the brink of overwhelming us with financial fears, political strife and divisions, we have many reasons to be grateful: health, family, love. Without the overabundance of food and wine, we would still have these. We live with grace everyday; it is there in what we choose to see, in the recognition of the daily blessings in our lives.

I walked out of my office building last night and saw that the traffic on the interstate was moving slowly, but not stopped. There were no flashing emergency lights for the nearly two-mile stretch I can see. For just one moment things were running smoothly, people were on their way home, or to the store, or to visit loved ones. The air had a crisp, autumnal quality to it, not quite as cold as it had been in the morning. The sun had already set but the sky was still blue, on the edge of turning black. A few stars were shining. It had been a busy day at work, but I felt like I had accomplished much. It had been an ordinary day, a good day. I was thankful for all of these things: smooth-flowing traffic, crisp air, twinkling stars, a rewarding feeling for work well done.

It is so easy for me to gripe at times about working with people who do things that seem idiotic to me, who’s agendas are different than mine, who have different things to accomplish that don’t align with my goals. It’s easy to kvetch about dealing with traffic jams, and not to consider the misfortune of those with the flat tire or broken down automobile blocking the exits or even those exhibiting the inconsideration of others when they try to cut into traffic because they have places they need to go too. It’s easy to complain about how it’s almost winter and I’d rather be somewhere warm.

But these are all minor things. It is just as easy to be grateful for having transportation, a job, a cool night with a starry sky, a family to go home to. I often forget that. My goal from now until the end of the year is to recognize something to be grateful for each day, some occurrence of grace in my life or the lives of those around me, and to be thankful for it.

Today I can be grateful for the love of family the comforts of a secure place to live, a home, and the abundance of food. But I can also be grateful that this world has little things of beauty abounding in it, like misshaped sweet potatoes covered in dirt that someone worked hard to grow, to transport to the market, for the man who is struggling to operate the local growers’ mart, so I could buy them to grace my table.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear reader. May your life be full of blessings and joy.

From Poets.org, links to poems about Thanksgiving.