Thursday, August 20, 2009

When we least expect it, great things manifest

Be ready to be surprised. ~Loesje Surprise is one of life's simple pleasures. The simple fact that we are not expecting it adds to the joy and excitement when good things happen in our lives. Surprises don't have to be big to be exciting. Take this little melon, for example. It's nothing fantastic and you might be wondering why I have its picture here. The answer is simple. It was a surprise. I didn't plant melons. At least, I didn't think I did. I was checking my cucumbers when suddenly I discovered this delightful little melon snuggled in the corner of my raised bed. My daughter and her friends started seeds in the greenhouse at school this spring and gave me some seedlings. It was labeled cucumbers and we assumed it was correct. I did notice the leaves were a bit unusual, but thought it was just a new cultivar and gave it no further thought. They must have planted melons, but it came as a great surprise, even to them. When we practice living with an attitude of gratitude, life hands us pleasant surprises that we would never expect. Just like I nurtured and cultivated the melon plant without ever guessing the fruit it would produce, our positive thoughts and gratitude are cultivating fruit that we may never expect. Be ready for pleasant surprises in areas you never expected. Today, I am grateful for the drone of the skidder in the distance as it provides honest work for a hardworking soul. I am grateful for the cicada that punctuates the silence. I am grateful for the dancing of flowers as they celebrate the early morning dew. I am grateful for photographs and memories that last a lifetime -- for laughter and excitement frozen in time on film. I am grateful to teenagers and college students ready to meet the world and make it a better place. I am grateful for family, for friends and for my God that watches over us all. And, I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you stop to share my day. May your life be filled with pleasant surprises -- the fruit of living with an attitude of gratitude.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Our thoughts create our reality -- where we put our focus is the direction we tend to go.~ Peter McWilliams I've been thinking a lot about focus, lately. I mean, I've always known it was important and try to live my life focusing on the positive, but as life often does, I got a first-hand lesson in focus lately. Oh, its not what you think. I didn't bring some horrible reality upon myself. I didn't miss an opportunity because my focus was elsewhere. I picked up the camera. Now, I've taken pictures before and I never really thought a lot about it. Point. Shoot. Sometimes I'd get good shots, but most of the time I didn't. Until I learned about focus. I simply wanted a few shots of flowers and herbs to accompany my writing. I wasn't looking for anything spectacular, just a clear image suitable for a gardening article. I tried a few closeup images and got a couple of fantastic shots. I was amazed. Was it an accident? Could I do it again? The next morning, I tried again and got one or two that I could be proud of. I realized the camera captures what the eye cannot see. It is able to focus on minute details while everything outside of its view remains unfocused. It chooses the object of its desire and brings it to a sharp focus. A beautiful image manifests with clarity and detail. My God and creator (whoever you conceive him to be) blessed us with a "clear sound mind" capable of focusing on whatever is in our heart. Like the camera we should strive to focus on the important and positive details of our lives and watch for the beautiful image that it manifests. I wish for you clear focus that you may bring your dreams to life. Today, I am grateful for the sound of laughter. I am grateful for the caw of the crow that roused me from sleep to see the sunrise. I am grateful for hummingbirds that glitter in the sun and for dew drops on the grass. I am grateful for the cool breeze of evening and for stars in all their glory that adorn the sky. I am grateful for family and friends who share my life and bring me love and warmth and joy. And, I am grateful for you, dear reader. May your day be filled with joy as you greet the world with gratitude and learn to sharpen your focus on all that is good in this world.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It's what sunflowers do. - Helen Keller

This little beauty sprung forth beneath my bird feeder in a secluded corner that receives filtered sun a mere few hours each day. Instead of withering away from want of the sun, it choose to stand strong and tall to welcome the few rays it receives with gratitude.

Instead of giving up for lack of soil, it sent forth its roots into the shallow soil and held fast never faltering against the winds.

It held its head high and bloomed despite its circumstances and reached forth to greet the sun with joy, turning its face to follow its path.

We have much to learn from the lowly sunflower that awakes with joy, never faltering in its focus on that which brings it warmth and growth and life.

I wish for you, today, that you greet the world like the humble sunflower, lifting up your face with joy to all that is good and life affirming. Maintain your focus and follow the path of that which brings you joy with gratitude.

Today, I am grateful for the quiet of the morning, the cool soft breeze and the first rays of sun. I am grateful for birds on wing, for butterflies and blooming flowers. I am grateful for the fragrance of nature, the glorious dew drop on the leaf and grass that blankets the land. I am grateful for the opportunity to greet another day with joy. I am grateful for the rustling of leaves, delicate ferns in dappled sunlight and wildflowers that bloom despite their circumstances. I am grateful for family and friends who bring me great joy and make my life full. I am grateful to my God, and creator, for the immense beauty he has bestowed upon this earth.

And, I am grateful for you, dear reader. May you greet the world like a radiant sunflower lifting up your face to all that is good and life affirming today.

Living Gratitude

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ~ John F Kennedy The words of John F Kennedy echo the essence of gratitude. Many have the mistaken notion that saying the words will bring about changes in their life, but are sorely disappointed. It reminds me of insisting a child say he is sorry for his infractions. He turns to his friend, grumbles "sorry" and we walk away satisfied that he has made his amends for his transgressions. As adults, we think we are teaching the importance of apologizing, but what we really teach is if you say the right words all will be forgiven. Without feeling, a simple "I'm sorry" means nothing, yet we teach children to accept this apology from their friends and move on. We teach that others will accept empty words with no investment in their meaning. Is it any wonder we grow up to think that saying the words is all that is required to succeed? If you are in the habit of saying you are grateful, but lack the emotional investment to live that gratitude you are no different than the child who mumbles "Sorry." Your words tell the world one thing, but your actions do not support it. If you find yourself saying, "My life is the pits, but at least I have my health." or "Everything is falling apart, but at least I have a job.", you are treading on dangerous grounds. When you catch yourself saying "at least I have" then you are probably just going through the motions of saying the right words. Gratitude isn't about saying you are grateful. It's about feeling grateful, being grateful, living grateful. For today, find something you are grateful for and live it. If you are grateful for the beautiful summer sun: get out there and enjoy the sun, celebrate it will all your heart, feel the joy that only the sun can bring. Don't worry if what you are grateful for seems silly or too childish to celebrate. Dance under the stars, feel the cool grass under your bare feet, listen to the sounds of nature. Celebrate the things you love and offer up your gratitude in words and in action and you will see dramatic changes in your life. Today, I am grateful for awaking free of pain. I am grateful for the cool morning air that brings rest to the soul. I am grateful for the exquisite beauty of trees as their leaves dance in the wind and they provide shade for the weary. I am grateful for the gentle sound of wind chimes, the call of birds and moss in its soft cushiony carpet beneath the feet. I am grateful for life in all its glory and my family and friends that promise great joy. And I am grateful for you, dear reader, as you continue your journey today. May you find much to be grateful for today.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Measure of Success

The temptation to measure our lives by the number of things we have is great. The biggest house, the best car, the most money and the most possessions have become synonymous with success. It can easily lead us to think that getting more things will make us happy and bring joy to our lives. It won't. If you are trying to develop an attitude of gratitude with the hopes of getting more things and finding that elusive measure of success that will say to the world that you have succeeded, you will probably be disappointed. If you want to cultivate joy and peace, then you are on the right track. Consider the words of Oscar Wilde today: If you don't get everything you want, think of the things you don't get that you don't want. ~Oscar Wilde When you express your gratitude today, it is important to focus on the things you do have in your life; but, sometimes what we do have can be defined by what we don't have. I may not have perfect peace in my life, but I don't have turmoil. I may not be able to run a marathon, but I can walk. I may not have a big beautiful house, but I have a comfortable home that brings me great pleasure. Make a conscious effort today to redirect your thoughts from the awareness of what you do not have to gratitude for what you do. I am grateful for the cool summer breeze that wafted in my window and brought me peaceful sleep. I am grateful for the first 8 hours of sleep I have had in many months. I am grateful for the starry sky in all its exquisite beauty and the perfect view from my backyard. I am grateful for a clear sound mind and for another day to enjoy the beauty of nature, the love of friends and family. And, I am grateful for You, dear reader. May you find great joy and peace in your life today.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Attitude of Mind

We awaken in others the same attitude of mind we hold toward them. ~Elbert Hubbard Life is an interesting journey to say the least. Here we are in a physical body that we can touch and feel and we begin to believe it is who we are. Yet, we instinctively know the mind is more powerful and has the amazing capacity to influence the body and the world around us. The fact that friends often express the same attitudes towards life should come as no surprise. You may think it is because friends have common likes and dislikes that help to develop the attitude, but I'm not so sure that's the reason. Attitude is a choice. It's not something that happens to you. It's not something you are born with. Attitude is an active choice that you make every minute of the day! You are free to change your attitude at any time. You are always free to change your mind and choose a different future, or a different past.~ Richard Bach Think about that for a moment. Our attitude colors how we see the world and even colors how we see our past. With a mere shift in attitude, our past changes. We all know that children raised in the same family often tell drastically different versions of their childhood, yet they were raised together and the majority of their experiences were the same. One recalls the negative influences and their years of want; while the other recalls the joyous years filled with love and compassion. What accounts for the vast differences in their memories? Attitude. The same is true of the future. Developing an Attitude of Gratitude can lift you beyond the everyday events of your life and allow you to experience the joy you were meant to feel. Won't you join me in my journey? Today, I am grateful for a cool house that shades me from effects of the sun. I am grateful for freedom of speech and the ability to share my thoughts. I am grateful for the technology to reach people across the world. I am grateful for family and friends who fill me with hope and joy. And I am grateful for you, dear reader, who is ready to change your world by developing an attitude of gratitude. May you have a blessed day!

Friday, August 14, 2009

On Gratitude

Developing an attitude of gratitude may seem like a futile attempt in these uncertain times; but, it may be the very thing that lifts you above the doom and gloom the world wants you to believe. It's important to remember that the world is not always as it seems and what we see, and what we read, isn't always an accurate picture of the world. Turn on the TV and you will be bombarded with every negative reporters can get their hands on. Sure, there are a lot of things wrong with this world, but there is so much more that is right. There are wonderful people out there -- kind, loving, unselfish people who spend their lives helping others. Maybe you haven't met them yet, or maybe you simply didn't recognize them. By developing an attitude of gratitude for the good things in your life, you will begin to see them. You will know them by the quality of their smile, by the kind words they share and by their sincere gratitude for life. Recently, I've met two people so kind and caring that I was taken by surprise. Both were in the service industry -- one a cashier and another a waiter. Here they were working hard to do their job; and yet, they still had the time to make me feel like I was important. They didn't just say "thank-you" they meant it. It bubbled up from the very core of their being. I decided then and there that I wanted to be like them. I wanted to make others feel like they were important. I hope I can live up to their example. Today, I am grateful for the cool morning breeze as it drifts in the window and the bright sun that brings life to my flowers and garden. I am grateful for my family who brings me great joy. I am grateful for a higher power I call my God, for the beauty of nature and the joy of being alive. I am grateful for you, whoever you are, for stopping to share my journey into the world of an attitude of gratitude. Today, we will change our worlds.

Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things . . .

It is easy to express gratitude when things in your life are running smoothly, but a little more difficult when things get rough. We ha...