Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Someone is praying for the things you take for granted.

Last night I stumbled upon an anonymous post illustrating how rich Americans really are, even if they are struggling to pay their bills and living from paycheck to paycheck. To make her point, the author spoke of the luxury of having more fresh water at the turn of a faucet than we could ever drink or use. It made me stop and consider how short-sighted we really are and how quick we are to think we need and deserve more in life.

I'm not suggesting that we give up our dreams, but maybe we need to take the time to step back and really appreciate what we already have. If gratitude is the key to happiness and finding abundance in out lives, perhaps we need to consider what real gratitude is. It's so easy to say we are grateful for the many blessings in our lives, but maybe that's not enough. 

If you are in the habit of expressing gratitude with all the right words but aren't really feeling it, then take some time to consider what you really have to be grateful for. Forget what others have said. Forget what you think you should be grateful for, and go inside to take a look at the real blessings in your life.

Consider what things you would be praying for if they were suddenly gone from your life.

Today, I am grateful for the spring rains, the blustery winds and the trees that stand strong through all sorts of weather. I am grateful for birds and insects that populate the world, for leaves that flutter in the wind and for clean, fresh water to drink. 
I am grateful for food to eat, for my stove to cook it on and for the skills to prepare a healthy meal. I am grateful for my bed that brings me rest, for soft blankets to comfort me and for shoes that keep my feet warm and dry. I am grateful for clothes to wear, for the luxury of hot coffee in the morning and for my library of books I have collected over the years. 
I am grateful for a clear, sound mind and loving heart. I am grateful for laughter that adds light to my day, for green grass as it begins to emerge and for frogs that will soon begin their joyous song of spring. 
And, I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you stop and share my day. May you find gratitude today and give thanks for the real blessings in your life as you go forward toward your dreams.

Monday, April 13, 2015

No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. Hal Borland

Hal Borland may not have been speaking literally when he said no winter lasts forever, but for those of us in Maine it has seemed like winter would last forever. It's nearly the middle of April and there are still piles of snow covering my garden and raised beds.

The good news is: the snow is melting, the robins are singing and the sun has returned. Our world will likely transform from a snow-covered landscape to green grass within a few short weeks. With spring comes a renewal of the soul.

If you, like me, have found yourself struggling as you work your way to the light, it's time to celebrate the coming of spring. The shedding of winter clothes and throwing open the windows to air out the home always fills me with hope.

Today, I am grateful for the robin's song that has been gone from my life for way too long, for sunshine that melts the remaining snow and for the woodpecker who hammers away at still frozen trees. I am grateful for skies of blue, white puffy clouds and water that trickles down the road.
I am grateful for tiny blades of grass that somehow find their way through the snow and ice and stand proud and tall around foundations. I am grateful for fresh air to breathe, for windchimes that sing into the night, and for stars that adorn the sky.
I am grateful for the promise of another year to grow flowers and veggies in my backyard, for the vision of colors that will soon burst forth and for my garden chair that has silently awaited my return. I am grateful for the sounds of spring that have nothing to do with emerging birds a wildlife - for the far-away sounds that tell me the snow is gone and the muffle of winter air is gone.
I am grateful for my family who is always there, for my friends who offer me support and for strangers who are not yet friends, but who will cross my path today. 
And I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you stop to share my day. May you celebrate the coming of spring with great joy and happiness today. 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Every day do something that will inch you closer to a better tomorrow. Doug Firebaugh

The snail does not worry that the journey is long and the pace is slow. He knows that setting his sights on the goal and working steadily toward it will get him where he needs to go. Why then, do we insist that we must work harder and go faster to reach our goals?

Maybe the fast-paced world we live in has colored our view and made us believe that speed is the ultimate weapon. Maybe it is because we have been conditioned to think that we deserve to enjoy the fruits of our labor now - not later. Maybe we are just short-sighted and are afraid of losing sight of the goal if we slow down our pace.

I suspect that, like me, you are guilty of expecting to move too fast as you rush headlong toward your goals. I am reminded today to slow down and take stock of where I am, to take a close look at how far I've come and only then look at what still needs to be done to reach my sometimes elusive goals. I will practice doing something every day that will inch me closer to my dreams, but I will let go of the notion that life is a race and that I must accomplish everything today. I will celebrate the knowledge that I am on my way and that I will reach the goals when it is time.

Won't you join me today? Take a moment to relax and make the decision to do just one thing today that will lead your forward. We can always find a way to improve our lives, even in meager circumstances. If you are homebound, do something to make your home more enjoyable. If you join the masses and work outside the home, do something to improve your workplace. If you are like me and work from home, take a moment to organize your desk or hang an inspirational poster. Smell a flower, hug a child, listen to the wind. Do something to start you on your way.

Today, I am grateful for new opportunities that come my way. I am grateful for the rain that promises to finally whisk away the snow, for the deer that bounds across the road in search of green shoots, for the birds who await the arrival of spring, and for gray clouds that burst open and shed water upon the earth.
I am grateful for indoor plumbing that my mother lived nearly her entire life without, for a cozy home that keeps me warm and safe, and for healthy food to fuel the body. I am grateful for great minds that share their knowledge with the world, for authors who share their vision of the world with me, and for artists who make the world a brighter place.
I am grateful for the vast beauty of the Universe, the song of birds, and the smell of spring. 
And, I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you stop and share my day. May you be blessed with the knowledge that doing just one thing a day to inch closer to your goals is enough to get you there.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The person we believe ourselves to be will always act in a manner consistent with our self-image.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Self-image is a funny thing. It hides beneath the surface and colors everything we do, yet few of us take the time to consider how we see ourselves and what we need to do to change that faulty image. I know I'm guilty of seeing myself as less able and less capable than I really am and I'm betting you are too. The problem, it seems, lies partly in the little voice that plays inside our heads - but I am convinced it has more to do with our unrealistic estimation of others.

It's not that I don't think others are capable. They are. It's just that most of us look outside ourselves at the world and see successful people who are free from the demons that plague our lives. We somehow think that others are confident and carefree and that they are finding great success in life.

Take a look at social media. Everyone is busy tweeting and posting about their great success. With a quick browse through your Tweet Feed, you will find everything from how to be slim and sexy to how to strike it rich with Internet marketing. Most of us assume those people really are successful with these pursuits. And that's where the problem lies. We assume others are more successful than us because they say they are.

Inspirational writer and speaker Zig Ziglar points out that part of our problem with our self-image lies in comparing our worst to the best in others. We look at their successes and compare them to our failures and assume we are much less successful than we are. We view their shining moments and somehow convince ourselves that those moments represent their entire lives. We forget that they too struggle with the everyday obstacles we all face.

For today, forget about the ultra-successful and focus on you. Consider who you are and what you have to offer the world. If that seems overwhelming, focus on one thing you can do today to make your life better. Clean a closet, write a blog post or do something good for someone else today. Do whatever it takes today to begin to rebuild your self-image one step at a time.

And don't forget to express your gratitude for all that you have, however meager that may seem.

Today, I am grateful for tiny blades of grass that I know are growing beneath the snow. I cannot see them yet, but I know the roots are growing and they are gathering strength to emerge when the snow melts. 

I am grateful for friends who see me through when times are tough, and who celebrate with me when times are good. I am grateful for my children who always support and love me even when I'm old and grumpy and struggling to find my way. Their belief in me is a great source of strength. 

I am grateful for the rising sun, even when it hides behind the clouds, because I know that it is there ready to bring its warmth. I am grateful for spring birds who sing outside my window, for the gentle wind as it whistles through the trees and night skies filled with stars. 

I am grateful for the opportunity to share my thoughts and touch the lives of others via the written word.
And, I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you stop and share my day. May you find joy and great success today as you work adjust your self-image to reflect the amazing person you really are. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

You teach best what you most need to learn. Richard Bach

I have a confession to make this morning. I fell off the wagon. I was following the Experiments in E-Squared and finding success, but when it came to losing weight by changing my thinking, it hit a little too close to home.

I have struggled with my weight my entire life. It is my personal demon. I haven't shared this with anyone before, but I distinctly remember the moment I became "fat". I was about five years old when I was sitting near my mother as she talked to another adult. Exactly who that was, I cannot recall. What she said shocked me and became part of my identity for a lifetime. 
"They say she is fat, but she's really not." You will notice that only the first part of the statement registered with me. I quickly surveyed my body to see if they were right. Although I couldn't see it, I knew they must be, because "they" were always right.  I wasn't sure who "they" were, exactly, but I certainly knew they were powerful. You see, I had experienced the mysterious "they" before. 

Not long before this experience they came and took our table and chairs. I know now that my mother had purchased them 'on time' and that when she wasn't able to make the payments the table and chairs were repossessed, but I didn't understand that then. My mother was frantic as she washed the table and chairs and moved them outside so they could take them. I knew she was embarrassed and scared. I watched out the window as two men in a big truck came and took our table and chairs away. After that, Daddy made wooden benches for us to sit on.

They were also responsible for turning off our electricity on occasion, and were always threatening to come again. My mother would rush in a panic to the post office to pay the bill with a money order. She'd cling to the receipt as her proof, in case they showed up. 
I knew that they knew everything because I frequently heard my mother quote them. "They say you need to drink milk every day" . . . "They say those berries are bad for you." . . . "They say you can't catch a cold from a cold draft." My life was filled with their wisdom and advice.
They were all-powerful and all-knowing and they could come to my house at any time to do what they wanted. They obviously controlled our lives and if they said I was fat, I was.
I've seen pictures of myself at that age and I most certainly was not fat. I was a normal, healthy little girl who happened to live in a poor family who struggled to pay their bills (although I didn't know that then). It is my belief that that moment changed my life. Until then, fat had never been an issue, but suddenly I knew what I was. I was fat.

One could certainly argue that I was too inclined to view myself as others saw me and not as I really was - but I was five years old. I formed my beliefs, like we all do, on what I was taught, and I had been taught that they were never wrong.

I've been aware of this for many years. I've tried to change my thinking about it, but it resists my efforts. It is how I have seen myself for my entire life, even during those brief times when I managed to lose 50 or 60 pounds at a time. It has always come back. Some would say that it is because I resumed old eating habits or made poor lifestyle choices, but I firmly believe it has more to do with my belief about myself than any external causes. Yet, I remain unable to change that thinking.

Perhaps now, you can see why I fell off the wagon when the subject of weight came up. The thought of failing once again in my battle with this demon was more than I could bare. I've decided to temporarily skip this part, because it poses a greater challenge than I can "think away" right now.

But, let's move on the interesting part. I skipped ahead in the book and read the other experiments. Although I didn't feel comfortable about skipping some experiments or posting about it, I secretly set an intention of being contacted by someone I haven't seen in at least 25 years. I made no attempts to locate this person - quite frankly, I scoffed at myself, as there is no reason this person would contact me after all these years. I didn't even think about it after the brief intention setting session.
This morning, I received a Facebook friend request from that person. Apparently, he has just joined the cyberworld.

I don't know about you, but I take this as proof that our thoughts and intentions really do change the world around us. I'm ready to move on with the rest of the Experiments in E-Squared and hope you will follow me on my journey.

Check back tomorrow to learn about the next experiment.