Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Day 25: Humor

Today I watched Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, a documentary focusing on one year in the life of the famous comedianne Joan Rivers. She made an interesting point while being heckled during a show. She had made a joke about Helen Keller being the dream daughter because she couldn't speak and a man started yelling from the audience saying the joke wasn't funny because he had a deaf son. It was a sad moment (and could have been terribly awkward for Joan) but she said to the man, yelling from the audience, "We have to laugh at the tragedies in life, it gives them less power over us." She is right. Laughter is one of the best ways to handle the obstacles that pop up in our path. Joan also showed that even if it is impossible to avoid fear, insecurities and failure, the best way to handle it is to keep moving forward, never give up and always persevere. Joan Rivers is nothing if not tenacious and determined and that is why she is still a star at 77 years old.
I am grateful that even in our darkest days we can find humor.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Day 24: Exercise

Mondays. They're pretty tough. Typically you feel overtired and overwhelmed with the work load that has built up over the weekend. But there is nothing that solves the problems of a Monday better than exercise. It clears your head and gives you a feeling of power and control, something that we often feel is lacking in our lives. It erases guilt for any overindulging you may have done (or plan to do). And most importantly, it makes you feel ALIVE!

I am grateful for the way a simple run makes me feel more alive. I am grateful that I am able to go for a simple run every day of my life. I am grateful for the simple power of putting one foot in front of the other.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Day 23: Horoscopes

Lately, I have found that my horoscope on a particular website is extremely accurate as well as poignant and inspiring. Today, in particular, my horoscope put my feelings into profound words and I found myself re-reading it to not only fully absorb the advice being given but to allow myself to appreciate what it feels like when the right words find you at the right time.

An impressionable mood can come upon you suddenly today, causing you to feel uncomfortably while making decisions. As a result, you will likely feel compelled to turn to a mentor, boss, or relative to determine how they might handle the challenge before you. If you are not satisfied with the answers they give, you may find that you lean toward their suggestion anyway. Consider, however, that your disagreement can be interpreted as a signal that you do know the best choice. If you think carefully about your options today, you will likely begin to see that the path that appeals to you may not be right for everyone, yet it is right for you.

When we are secure in the strength of our personal power, we are comfortable following our own paths, even when that means going against the recommendations of otherwise influential individuals. We may feel that we need to give ourselves over to the counsel of those who have more experience, yet doing so can interfere with our ability to craft our own destiny in a meaningful way. Our paths will typically only reveal themselves to us when we are willing to innovate and go against the grain to get what we want out of life. If we have learned to trust our intuitive minds, we need not bow to the pressure heaped upon us by those who are concerned for our welfare but do not understand our unique perspective. You will cease to be as impressionable today when you recognize that only you can conceive of and achieve your unique fate.

I am grateful for the healing and inspiring power of the written word. I am grateful for the right words at the right time and the way fate has a way of bringing these words to you when you need them most.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Day 22: Truth

{image via Etsy}

Sometimes you have these moments when you feel like life is breaking you with the burden of stress and unhappiness. You can't escape it so you start to place the blame, on others, on yourself. You feel you need to make major changes, "fix" things, to bring back your happiness, to hit refresh, start over, begin again. And then you find that the best way to bring you back to center, to bring you back to happiness, is also the simplest, talking. Putting words and a voice to your sense of frustration and sadness can be the most direct way to begin healing. Putting your fears and worries into words lessens the power they hold over you, breaks the unhealthy interior monologue that has held you captive. That's what I did today. I talked. And I had someone who listened and calmed me and brought me back to center, back to me.

Today I am grateful for the power we have to solve our problems by voicing our fears with honesty and authenticity. I am grateful that I have someone to talk to and someone who listens.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Day 21: Snowy Day

As I expected, there are going to be difficult days. Days when work is overwhelming, emotions sit too close to the surface and snow keeps building outside your front door, trapping you inside both physically and mentally. These are the days when gratitude is difficult to recognize and acknowledge. But still the search continues and the parameters of my challenge have already been set. I will find something every day. There is something to be grateful for every single day. Sometimes you just have to look a little deeper and think a little longer to figure it out.

Today I realized something about myself. I'm a people pleaser. I put the needs and wants of others so far ahead of myself that I can barely see straight. I'm quite literally blinded by the demands of others. These people are in no way "bad" people. They are actually great people, people I love and admire and want to spend my time with, when I have available time. But sometimes time gets away from me and it is in desperately short supply. Then, when these people whom I love, start making demands on my time, asking me to put them first, recognize their needs before my own, the problems start to build and I become disparaged about the quality of my life. If I give to everyone, I have nothing left for myself. I push my own comfort out of the way to make sure I make everyone else happy and comfortable. What I need to learn is that sometimes saying no to other people is a way of saying yes to myself. The people whom I love, and who truly love me, will understand this need for quiet contemplation, time to reflect and regroup, space to calm my frayed nerves and recharge so that I can give them the very best I have to give...when I'm ready to give it.

I am grateful for the freedom and time I have to take a step back, retreat into my own comfortable zone and disconnect. I am grateful for a snowy day that forces me to lay low and count my blessings.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Day 20: JFK and Dickens

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Inauguration of John F. Kennedy. I spent the morning discussing this monumental event with my mother, who was 17 at the time of the President's swearing in. She spoke with stars in her eyes about the glamour and youth and beauty of this young President and his princess-like wife. And then the conversation turned, as it inevitably does when speaking of this historical presidency, to his assassination. To the day when a hometown hero was gunned down. When all of the dreams and hopes and excitement that was placed on his shoulders fell to the ground, and our country was left reeling.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," my mother said. And this stopped me for a moment and made me sit up and recognize the power literature has in uniting us and defining life for us. Last night I had been discussing with my parents that I was reading Oprah's latest book club selection, A TALE OF TWO CITIES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS. I spoke about how when these books were assigned in school I had little to no appreciation for what Dickens was trying to say to his readers. Now, with years of experiences under my belt and a stronger appreciation for universal lessons and themes in life, I have a much stronger appreciation for the words of Dickens and for literature in general. The fact that my mom and I could be discussing such a monumental event as the inauguration, and subsequently the assasination, of JFK and bring in themes from a classic piece of literature, only further proves the power of literature to unite us and comfort us and help us to comprehend events that seem beyond comprehension. Life can be the best of times and the worst of times. It can be everything and nothing. It can be hopeful and fearful. And it is up to us, as humans, to recognize and appreciate life for being both and knowing that even in the darkest of times, there is hope just around the corner.

I am grateful for the enduring power of a book like A TALE OF TWO CITIES and GREAT EXPECTATIONS and a writer like Dickens who can show us that the human condition never changes, it evolves with time, but the defining characteristics of what makes us human, never changes.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gratitude Day 19: Why Worry?

Today is the 19th day of 2011. The year in which I try to incorporate gratitude into my daily life by finding one moment every day for which I am grateful. I just picked up the February issue of Oprah Magazine and immediately stopped on an article by Martha Beck "Yours for the Asking" that explores the benefit of asking questions to change your life. Question #3 on Martha's list is "Why Worry?" A simple enough question and yet one that can be overwhelmingly powerful and effective. Here is what Martha advises when answering this question:

These two words, considered sincerely, can radically reconfigure the landscape of your mind. Worry rarely leads to positive actions: it's just painful, useless fear about hypothetical events, which scuttles happiness rather than ensuring it. Some psychologists say that by focusing on gratitude, we can shut down the part of the brain that worries. It actually works!

Besides the fact that I want to use "scuttles" more frequently in every day conversation, this could not be a more appropriate piece of advice to stumble upon, especially for someone who is making a concerted effort to "find gratitude" every day. I actually put this piece of advice to work and it really is effective! Any time a worry would pop into my head, I would immediately switch gears and think of something that I am grateful for (my niece, my family, my books, my cozy home) and the worry was gone. Yes, I had distracted myself, but I had distracted myself with something beautifully profound. It really does work! Try it!

I'm grateful that I can find inspiration in the advice of others and have moments of pure enlightenment just by reading an article in a magazine. The fact that we can learn and grow and become better versions of ourselves just by expanding our minds is certainly something to instill gratitude.

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Gratitude Day 8: Tragedy in Tucson

Today, a meet and greet between Representative Gabrielle Giffords and constituents outside a Tucson grocery store turned deadly when a gunman opened fire, killing six people and wounding 14 others. It is dark times like this when finding gratitude is both difficult and essential.

One of the victims of this tragedy was 9-year-old Christina Green. A beautiful little girl with an indelible spirit, Green was born on 9/11 and according to her parents was so proud of both her birthday and her country. As her mother said, Christina's birth "lent a grace note of hope to that terrible day."

Even in tragedy we need to find a "grace note of hope." 76-year-old Dorwan Stoddard was one of the victims of the shooting in Tucson and he died saving his wife, Mavy. Stoddard was a church volunteer and Mavy was his high school sweetheart. When the shooting started, he jumped in front of his wife and, quite literally, gave his life for her.

Tonight we celebrated my sister, Megan's, 36th birthday. Five years ago Megan underwent open heart surgery to fix a corroded artery that had been deteriorated by radiation from childhood cancer treatment. When she was going through all of her hospital treatments and surgery, I literally wanted to step in front of her, step in her place and take the bullet. I wanted to save her from the pain and suffering. I am learning that this is what love truly is, to know that you would rather sacrifice your own life for the ones you love. Tonight we celebrated my sister's birthday with cake and presents as her 8-year-old daughter danced around the room, handing presents to her mother and showing everyone the book she was reading (Junie B. Jones).

I am grateful for my sister's health because a few years ago I almost lost her. Life is precious and we need to hold the ones we love tight, forever. Love never fails.

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Gratitude Day 1: A New Beginning...and an Adventure

Happy New Year! Let me begin by saying how excited I am for this endeavor. It is inspiring, uplifting and promising. It is also completely and totally necessary and therefore will be something that I not only stick to but something I will want to force myself to adhere to if necessary. I, along with most human beings, tend to get lost in the daily dramas and disturbances of life. I quite literally can't see the forest for the trees at times. I get caught up in the minutiae without recognizing and acknowledging the blessings I am greeted with every single day of my life. Because honestly, even when you are smack dab in the middle of what feels like the darkest period in your life, there is something to be grateful for and something that the world is trying to teach you. I feel that finding gratitude in the every day is also centered in learning something every day. By finding something to be grateful for you are bringing recognition to an area that you had previously ignored, overlooked or took for granted. Gratitude is a way of bringing light to an area that had been hidden by shadows. I am going to spend this entire year documenting everything that fills me with gratitude and a stronger appreciation for life. Even on days when it feels like nothing is going my way, I will highlight those hidden gems of beauty because those are the days when being grateful is essential.

Here's what my New Year's Eve wasn't. It wasn't a wild night of debauchery. It wasn't reckless, crazy, drunken or dizzy. It was warm, comfortable and familiar. It was spent with family. It was a night of great food, laughter and childlike joy. It was perfect!

I am grateful for my family. I am grateful that I can have the ones I love within arms reach when ringing in a brand new year.