Just Be Thankful.

Just Be Thankful.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion into clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

– Melody Beattie

As the month of November comes to an end I begin to sense the spirit of gratitude slowly fade away. The “month of gratitude” may be over, but I do not plan to stop practicing gratitude thereafter. My gratitude practice is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that makes every day of my life a magical and wonderful journey of discovery and appreciation.

Until the next post…

Take care + be well,

Carol

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

Why I Stopped Saying “I’m Blessed”

The words “I’m Blessed” is a phrase that I have used quite often in the past to express the way that I feel about all of the good and wonderful things that I have received and accomplished in my life.  There is no harm in celebrating the good that occurs in our lives…right?  However, one has to ask, does that change if we become a bit too zealous in our efforts to celebrate ourselves and we begin dismissing the misfortune of others?  Does it change if all of the good that we receive changes us – and not for the better? 

I stopped saying “I’m Blessed” a few years ago when I began a volunteer position working with foster youths helping to ensure that they were receiving proper care with regard to their health and well-being in their prospective foster homes.  Just hearing those two words at the time would make me cringe whenever I heard them coming from my mouth or from the mouths of others.  All of a sudden that little special phase began to seem shallow to me, and I just didn’t feel comfortable using it anymore. 

Another reason why I stopped saying it was because I began to notice that there are a lot of people who do not have a “typical” family structure or a “typical” shot at some of the opportunities that others have. Not to mention having the “good fortune” of celebrating the holidays with their loved ones in many instances. I also began thinking about those who had lost their homes and loved ones in recent storms and natural disasters. Once all of this began to infiltrate my mind – well, it was a given that I, personally, no longer felt comfortable using that phrase. 

Once I really began to pay attention to how common these issues are, I realized how egotistical I must have sounded to give myself so much praise and attention when I really didn’t need it – any of it – because I have enough. More than enough, even with all of my own personal struggles and imperfections. I still have enough, and I don’t need to tell anyone about my blessings because we’re all blessed in one way or another. As a result, it became more important for me to just appreciate my blessings and be thankful for them in silence and with grace.

I think the word “blessed” can sometimes be taken out of context to go beyond simply meaning “to be fortunate” or “lucky” and is often instead referred to as being something “more than“, being “highly favored” and exalted by a higher power which is often the result of performing some spectacular act, or just being successful or having a perfect family, appearance or life.

Once I began practicing gratitude as a way of celebrating myself and all of the things that I am fortunate to have or have experienced in my life, everything changed. For one thing, I can honestly say that I am now a more humble and open person and someone who is always conscious of what others may be going through.  Now I count my blessings instead of professing that I am blessed. You and I – well – we are all blessed just for being; and we shouldn’t feel any obligation of having to have had accomplished something  to receive those blessings. Besides, blessings often run out, while gratitude is often the gift that keeps giving; no matter what the situation.  Speaking of giving… I hope that you will join me by still celebrating yourself, (in whatever way you need and prefer to), but by also remembering to always make an effort to try to be a blessing for someone else whenever possible. Blessings to everyone!

Until the next post,

Take care + Be well,

Carol 

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!  It has been several days since my last post.  I decided to ring in the holidays on a much needed easy note, placing a majority of my focus and attention on maintaining holiday family rituals, creating new ones, spending time with my husband, my two remaining adult children, my precious grand kids and completing a Christmas donation project in honor of my “angel son”.

The last few weeks have been somewhat hectic, but I have learned to balance the hustle and bustle of the holiday season with equal amounts of “me time” as a way allowing myself to still enjoy the holiday season while also ensuring that I take care of myself first; so that I can also still be there for my family to celebrate the season with a joyful spirit.

This is the second holiday season without my youngest child and one of my greatest lessons of this past year has been learning to push past my feelings of hurt and remaining grateful for all that I still have in my life.  With grief it’s easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of “loss”, which in most cases is inevitable and completely understandable.  However, that is not a place to reside.  Practicing gratitude has helped me remember all of good that I have in my life despite also having to live through the bad.

Luckily for me, I began my gratitude practice prior to my son’s death, and that is what I turned to and leaned on immediately after his death. I have to be completely honest though – there were many days where I felt as though there was nothing to be grateful for.  Those days happen, but the funniest thing took place when I realized that those days occur. I learned to be grateful for those days. I learned to appreciate that reality, and doing so helped me heal and get through some of the most discouraging days I have ever encountered.

I know it might seem strange to be grateful for “not being able to find anything to be grateful for”, but what not having anything to be grateful for did for me was to allow me to be thankful for my bad days, my disadvantages, my sadness, and believe it or not – my grief.  Yes, all of those uninspiring and less than perfect things were suddenly something to appreciate, because they helped to remind me that those things helped to make me a stronger and more resilient person. Furthermore, every time that I expressed gratitude for those things it made me appreciate the good in my life more. In a strange sort of way it made me see that everything in my life and everything that I experience is something to be grateful for because it either added something positive to my life, or allowed me to experience or (better yet) learn something new. Either way it is growth.  Either way it is life. Either way it is beautiful.

The truth is – I may still wake up one day and feel out of sorts, but it’s okay.  I still have a beautiful family. My “angel son” is still my son, I still have an abundance of wonderful family memories, I still have amazing supportive family and friends, I still live on a great big beautiful planet where seasons change and where I can enjoy nature and the outdoors. I am grateful for my followers and that you have taken the time to read my posts.  I am grateful for the opportunity to follow you, learn more about you and read the posts that you have shared with me.

I’d like to close by saying that I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and regardless of whether or not you have lost someone, my hope is that you were able to share beautiful moments with loved ones – moments that created memories to last a lifetime. The month of November is nearing its end, but our expressions of gratitude don’t have to.  Let’s all try to remain grateful for what we have in our lives regularly and throughout the year.  We all have so much to be thankful for – even when things might not seem to be so great. We just have to open our hearts, minds and eyes to see and appreciate all that surrounds us. Blessings to you all! xo

Until the next post…

Take care + Be well

Carol