My Top Ten Thanksgiving Gratitudes

I am still getting over the fact that another year is coming to a close, but the recent Thanksgiving Day observance confirms that I am not dreaming. I try to plant gratitude seeds every day, but this is the official season for a gratitude post. So, this is my top 10 gratitude list from Thanksgiving Day:

  1. My five senses, so that I could see the beautiful faces of my loves as we gathered together, hear the cacophony of children laughing, football games on the television, silverware colliding with plates as the ravenous group savored the first bites of dinner, and snippets of conversation, touch the warm hands holding mine as I said grace, smell the marriage of the various dishes as they cooked, and speak the pre-feast prayer of gratitude to God for past, present and future blessings.
  2. The crackling sound and dancing flames of the fireplace as they warm our body and soul.
  3. Family and friends, those present, far away, and no longer with us.
  4. The fact that I am surrounded by loved one, and have food to eat, and a warm gathering place in which to enjoy the day.
  5. The present moment and belief that all is as it should be.
  6. The face of my beautiful mother cooking beside me when so many feel the loss of theirs.
  7. Watching the treasured and familiar “It’s A Wonderful Life” which serves as a reminder that we positively affect more lives than we know.
  8. The laughter that ensued as everyone shared their favorite scenes from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase. (If you haven’t seen this hysterical movie, it is a Christmas must-see.)
  9. At the end of the day, the feast put away, not a dirty dish in sight, and I did not have to lift one hand to make it happen.
  10. . After all is said and done, the feeling of accomplishment and love for another successful holiday gathering.

There you have it. My Top 10 gratitude list. What about you? What’s on your “gratitude” list?

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I Count My Blessings

Daisy giving thanks by lkw

It has been a hard day, and I am trying to focus on all the good in my life. You and this blog are among them. Although I do not have hundreds of followers, I have the important ones — you.

I just wanted to take a minute to say that I appreciate you, and thank you for being. You are a blessing, not only to me, and those who know and love you, but to the world. You have meaning, and you matter.

It is hump day and you are closer to the weekend. May the rest of the week bring you joy, peace of bodymindsoul, love, and happiness.

What is Grace?

Wind Chimes

Wind Chimes (Photo credit: kulicki)

I am taking an e-course titled “30 Days of Grace,” taught by artist and healer Alena Hennessy. In one of the lessons, she asked us to consider what the word ‘grace’ meant to us. When I initially read the lesson, I groaned thinking, “Yet another important question that I cannot answer!” To my surprise, I quickly realized that I knew the answer to the question, that I felt the answer to the question.

I’d never given the question much thought. Growing up, I was taught to define the word in one of three ways. First, as the prayer that we said before a meal, second, one’s way of handling themselves in various situations and third, one’s way of presenting themselves to those around them.

Yet, as I began writing, it occurred to me that the list of instances and things in which I see ‘grace’ is limitless. There is no set of definitions that can define the word ‘grace.’ Grace means different things to different people and though there may be some commonality, there is rarely a common agreement as to what the word engenders for each of us. In my case, I believe that ‘grace’ = life and all that comes with it.

Grace is the joy that I feel when I look into the faces of my children and grandchildren. Grace is the music of my wind chimes as a gentle breeze rushes through them. Grace is the scent of orange blossoms, jasmine, lavender and more. Grace is a candle-lit room as I sit still in meditation. Grace is prayer and thanksgiving. Grace is the beauty of my daughter as she labors to give birth to her first child. Grace is the love and devotion on my son-in-law’s face as he stands vigil to support my daughter through a long, difficult labor. Grace is being there as my grandson, eyes wide open, takes his first look at his new world. Grace is the sound of rain on a tin roof. Grace is the sound of my favorite songs. Grace is the feeling that propels me to dance and sing to those songs.

Grace is laughter. Grace is a smiling face. Grace is my husband. Grace is having my mother still with us. Grace is in spite of fibromyalgia, being able to get out of bed most mornings. Grace is the trusting look on the faces of my grandchildren as I look into their eyes. Grace is in the beauty of the night sky with its infinite stars, planets and galaxies, unhampered by city lights. Grace is the smell of freshly laundered clothes. Grace is a sense of accomplishment for a job well done.

Grace is a steaming cup of tea or coffee on a cold day. Grace is coming home after an extended trip away. Grace is a field of wild flowers swaying gently in the breeze. Grace is the birds who gather each morning at the feeder outside my bedroom window. Grace is a surprise call from a loved one. Grace is serendipity. Grace is the feel of the sun on my skin. Grace is having the exact amount of money to pay for a purchase. Grace is not looking, but finding that ‘perfect’ gift for a special person in my life. Grace is in the amazing art that my daughter creates. Grace is my son’s tireless determine to make a better life for himself and his family. Grace is in the strength to overcome horrible circumstances. Grace is in falling down, and picking one’s self up.

Grace is being there for someone in their time of need. Grace is saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it. Grace is forgiving, both others, but especially, yourself. Grace is the pleasure of friendship. Grace is going to the mailbox and finding a beautiful card or letter, sent to me, for no particular reason. Grace is helping those in need. Grace is paying it forward. Grace is hot water for an insanely long bubble bath. Grace is having the time to slow down and enjoy the moment. Grace is being alone without feeling lonely. Grace is being my own best friend. Grace is in spite of having three children by 21 years old, I persevered to graduate college and law school. Grace is a piece of ice cold watermelon or a glass of lemonade on a hot summer day. Grace is the feel of settling beneath freshly laundered sheets. Grace is expressing my creativity. Grace is writing, painting and drawing. Grace is playing a game of jacks. Grace is playing bingo with my 7 year old g’daughter. Grace is the stillness and quiet of the early morning before the rest of the house wakes.. Grace is realizing that I can after years of believing I can’t. Grace is loving myself, just the way that I am. Grace is reading a good book. Grace is learning something new.

Grace is being grateful. Grace is saying ‘thank you.’ Grace is being a shoulder to cry on or an ear to listen. Grace is the love that gripes my heart when I think of my little brother who died much too soon. Grace is saying ‘I love you.’ Grace is being told “I love you.” Grace is every morning that I wake to a new day. Grace is kindness and generosity. Grace is the faith that I have in God. Grace is food on the table, a roof over my head and clothes on my back. Grace is in the challenges that I face, in order to appreciate the grace around me. Grace is me and you. Grace is the special person, now a friend, who gifted me this class when we only knew one another through FB and not very well. Grace is in accepting things as they are and not as you want them to be.

I wrote and wrote for pages until I got tired and had to stop, but I could have written for hours. I understand now that grace is everywhere and a quality in everything that I do. Grace is in the faces that I see in stores and on the streets. Grace is in every encounter. Grace is the blessing of each of you that I ‘meet’ and connect with through this blog. In fact, grace is the opportunity to spend my time with you in this way. I feel blessed that I’ve had the chance to ponder this question as it has done for me what I intended in creating this blog, brought me closer to my true and graceful self, as well as an appreciation for all the beauty that surrounds me. As I said earlier, grace  is — life.

Blessings and grace to you, Lydia

All Will Be Well, ~ Julian of Norwich

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Here’s To Making Magic And Mistakes in 2014

Fireworks

Fireworks (Photo credit: bayasaa)

It is a new year and there must be something that I want to say about it. In this post, I already disclosed that my word for 2014 is ‘courage,’ and believe me, there is much to say about that in future posts. A Facebook friend posted a quote about the New Year written by Neil Gaiman. Initially, I thought it perfect, but still I hesitated to use it in this post. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I love the quote. In fact, here it is:

May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some find books and kiss someone who thinks you’re wonderful. And don’t forget to make some art — write or draw or build or create or sing or live as only you can. And, I hope somewhere in the next year you surprise yourself.

As you can see for yourself, it is an inspiring and uplifting quote. I particularly like the first sentence, especially the reference to ‘good madness.’ Generally, one thinks of madness as a negative or undesirable state of being; such as, “That woman is mad,” which is a less offensive way of saying, “That woman has lost her f***ing mind!” When I think of the phrase ‘good madness,’ I think of one taking affirmative steps to let go, have fun, engage in raucous laughter, and to live fully and happily.

I suppose that I should add that in my mind, all New Year wishes and offerings are, in actuality, blessings pure and simple. When one blesses you, as the Oxford dictionary confirms, they may intend to invoke “a prayer asking for God’s favor or protection.” On the other hand, the word ‘blessing’ is also defined as “a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being….” A sincere well-wisher is expressing in mere words, a gift of his or her’s desire that you experience the very best that life has to offer.

Anyway, I went to Neil Gaiman’s website curious to see what I would find. After wandering to and fro, I discovered a ‘blessing‘ that I identify with and offer to you for the New Year. It is:

“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.

Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something.

So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life.

Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Much like the phrase “good madness,” “making mistakes” is a call to action. The opposite of action is inaction and although it ensures a lack of risk and, I suppose one can argue, a sense of security, it does not allow for growth or the opportunity to engage in our lives. Personally, I think that it offers a lifeless and boring existence, lacking happiness or excitement.

Life provides us a series of choices and decisions. Which path do I choose?  Which job do I take? Is this the man or woman of my dreams? Don’t search for certainty where there is none to be found. There is no certainty in any decision that we make. In fact, there is a 50/50 chance that the choice that you make is right, and an equal chance that it is a big, fat mistake. Such is life.

The answer is not to shield ourselves from our ‘mistakes’ by refusing to act. The very act of choosing is life affirming, and it is a fact of life that some of our choices will be mistakes. The thing is that mistakes are the stuff of life that, if responded to properly, offer opportunities for growth and inner wisdom. They offer life lessons that certainty will never offer. It takes courage to act in the face of uncertainty. Just do it and prepare for a rich and exciting New Year filled with abundant blessings. I’ll toast to that!

Blessings, Lydia

All will be well. ~St. Julian of Norwich