Daily Om Thursday & My Musings

English: Oil painting, "Praying Hands&quo...

English: Oil painting, “Praying Hands” by Peter Paul Rubens (1577–1640) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Grateful: The World in a Bright Light

Everyday is a blessing, and in each moment there are many things that we can be grateful for. The world opens up to us when we live in a space of gratitude. In essence, gratitude has a snowball effect. When we are appreciative and express that gratitude, the universe glows a bit brighter and showers us with even more blessings.

There is always something to be grateful for, even when life seems hard. When times are tough, whether we are having a bad day or stuck in what may feel like an endless rut, it can be difficult to take the time to feel grateful. Yet, that is when gratitude can be most important. If we can look at our lives, during periods of challenge, and find something to be grateful for, then we can transform our realities in an instant. There are blessings to be found everywhere. When we are focusing on what is negative, our abundance can be easy to miss. Instead, choosing to find what already exists in our lives that we can appreciate can change what we see in our world. We start to notice one blessing, and then another.

When we constantly choose to be grateful, we notice that every breath is a miracle and each smile becomes a gift. We begin to understand that difficulties are also invaluable lessons. The sun is always shining for us when we are grateful, even if it is hidden behind clouds on a rainy day. A simple sandwich becomes a feast, and a trinket is transformed into a treasure. Living in a state of gratitude allows us to spread our abundance because that is the energy that we emanate from our beings. Because the world reflects back to us what we embody, the additional blessings that inevitably flow our way give us even more to be grateful for. The universe wants to shower us with blessings. The more we appreciate life, the more life appreciates and bestows us with more goodness.  Madyson Taylor, Daily Om

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But how do we embrace gratitude in light of countless challenges, worries and concerns? Although I do not doubt that there are any number of ways to do so, I offer only a couple of ideas for you to consider. The first step on the path towards gratitude is the most difficult one; yet, once you’ve committed to it, embracing it becomes easier. Understand that at a basic level, these are not novel ideas, but I offer my take on them. Moreover, they are well-worth repeating–and remembering.

The first suggestion, deceptively simple, requires you to interrupt the negative thoughts coursing through your mind, and to slow down, body and mind. It does not matter where you are, but, for example, if you are a nature lover, it may behoove you to step out in nature. The idea is to place yourself in an environment that is most conducive to nudging you out of your head and into the current moment.

Once you are fully present, in an unhurried and curious way, take a look around you. What do you see that moves you from your head space into your heart space? Is it the sight of a deer darting behind that tree, a picture of a loved one, your favorite chair placed purposefully beside a perfectly sunlit window in which you read, your favorite cookbook reminding you of the exquisite meal that you enjoyed with family last Sunday, or a treasured briefcase passed down to you by your deeply loved father? These things touch your heart, not on a superficial level, but deep down where your most meaningful memories lay.

It is important to remember how much joy that they bring and how much gratitude you hold for them. You cannot feel the warmth of gratitude, while at the same time wallowing in negative thoughts and feelings. These experiences, or things, that cause you to forget your troubles are the source of gratitude.

My second suggestion asks you to choose a time of day, ideally, the first thing in the morning, or at night, when you are winding down. In preparation for this ritual, select a blank book that you love. (You may already have one lying around the house or you might schedule a special shopping trip to buy one that suits you. It needn’t be expensive or fancy, just one that you feel drawn to.) Gather your supplies: your favorite pen  and a cup of hot coffee, tea, or perhaps your beverage of choice is a glass of wine or ice-cold lemonade, and find a quiet, comfortable place to sit. All that matters is that you are comfortable and undisturbed.

Open the book to a blank page and date it. Think about the day before or behind you. It is easy to identify those “big,” easily recognizable moments that occur in your day or life. In this case, what you are searching for are those small, inauspicious moments that, at the time, went unnoticed. You can find them because they hold a special quality about them that cause you to stop, if only for a few seconds, and feel at peace with the world around you. It could be the taste of your favorite food at the very moment when you first bite into it, the way the sun light creates endless rainbows on your wall when it hits the prism hanging in your window, the anticipation of lunch with a good friend, the sound of your wind chimes as a gentle breeze caresses them, the open parking spot nearest the door of the grocery store, or finding the earring that you thought long-lost. These moments are just as significant and notable as the “big” ones.

Now, take your notebook and pen and begin listing 3-5 things or moments for which you are grateful. Don’t force it, let them softly settle in your consciousness. Feel the surge of warmth and contentment that overcomes your being. There, you’ve given birth to your “Gratitude Journal.” If you make it a daily ritual, you give yourself the permission to focus on the things for which you are grateful. The resulting gratitude serves to dull the negative affects of the challenging times in your life. Of course, doing so, is not a magic bullet that will cause these times to disappear, but it will surely make them seem less overwhelming and diminish their impact.

I hope that these ideas help you when it seems that there is little about which to feel grateful. On a personal note, I feel grateful for  each of you reading this post. Thank you.

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The Seven Things For Which I Am Grateful Today.

praying

praying (Photo credit: mlcbube)

  1. A day of being and no doing.
  2. This moment.
  3. The fact that I live in a place where I can see every star in the night sky.
  4. The challenges and pain, so that I can recognize and know happiness and peace.
  5. Flowers and  candle light.
  6. My daily meditation practice; and
  7. I am grateful for all the amazing people who take precious moments from their busy lives to read my blog.

And you? What are you grateful for today?

Blessings and love, Lydia

All Will Be Well, ~ Julian of Norwich

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Thank You.

Thank You

Thank You (Photo credit: mandiberg)

I intended to post this days ago, but there were technical problems and regrettably, I did not know how to fix them. I hope that they are now.

“Thank you’ is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.” ~Alice Walker

This is the season of Thanksgiving, and I intended to publish this post before Thanksgiving Day. Obviously, that did not happen. The hustle and bustle of preparing for the day and finally cooking a big meal, overwhelmed me. If it weren’t for my dear Mom, I am not sure what I would have done. Thank you Mom!!

During the holiday season, the words grateful and gratitude are bandied about by scores of us. The  Oxford dictionary defines ‘gratitude’ as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.” I think that many of us routinely practice the first part of the definition. It is commonplace for us to express gratitude for the many things in our lives by listing them regularly in our journals, notebooks or on our computers. In fact, studies have shown it therapeutic to do so.

Although I’ve always been aware of the things in my life for which I am grateful, it was the book “Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy” Sarah Ban Breathnach that gave a voice to those blessings that I’d routinely overlooked. The book gave me pause as it caused me to consider the seemingly insignificant little blessings that grace my life. As she noted, “[w]hen we do a mental and spiritual inventory of all that we have, we realize that we are very rich indeed.” It was this book that encouraged me to formalize my gratitude practice.

“Practicing gratitude involves being thankful for the little things, seeing all that happens in your life as a “miracle”, and always being aware of the abundance in your life. By redirecting the focus of your thoughts from what you don’t have to what you do have, powerful vibrations are sent out to the universe, increasing the things in your life for which you are thankful.” (Read more here.)

Those things for which we may experience gratitude can range from the feel of our bare foot on a cool floor on a hot day, and a relaxing, hot bubble bath with no time limitations or frantic knocks on the door, when it is cold outside and you are frazzled from the holidays. It could be for the hot water with which you make that first cup of  tea or coffee every morning, the sound of that hot water as it flows into your mug, and even for the certainty of a meal on the table. Gratitudes come in all shapes and sizes, and while we treasure each, usually, there is nothing to do beyond noting it. Some, however, demand more.

The ‘more ‘ that I am speaking of is a simple thank you. That’s right, the words “thank you,” though seemingly innocuous, hold great appreciation, power and promise. The words ‘thank you’ can forgive the worse transgressions, as well as display appreciation for a kindness received. In fact, the words also apply to those things in our lives that are blessings in disguise, but at the time, we are unable to recognize that fact. As we write down the things for which we are grateful, we sometimes overlook the other part of the equation, that is, verbally expressing our gratitude or thanks. Failing to express some act of kindness is akin to being deeply in love and never expressing your feelings to your loved one.

At this time of thanksgiving, I want to verbally express my thanks for some of those things in my heart for which I am most grateful. As an initial matter, I have to say that there is no way that I can possibly express my deepest appreciation for all the people and things who deserve it. If I overlook you in this post, please know that I do not do so in my heart. Please forgive me in advance and know that my heart is filled with the kindnesses that you shower upon me and the gratitude that I feel. In many cases, there are real people to thank, but in some instances, my gratitude is to my God. With that said, I realize that many of us espouse different beliefs. Whether yours is the Source, Universe, Allah, Mother Earth, or others, I urge you to look to those to express the blessings in your heart.

  • Recently, my father died. He abandoned me when I was five and our relationship never overcame that, so we were estranged. Still, I’d like to thank John for being my father. The reality is that without him, I would not exist or be the woman who i am today. I am beginning to accept that perhaps that is all that he was meant to contribute to my life.
  • I thank my beautiful, wonderful Mom who, when left with three, later four children, did not despair. She set about to care for us on her own. She worked two to four jobs at a time to put food on the table, clothes on our backs, and to give us a proper education and the basic necessities.
  • I thank my two sisters. Although we have a complicated relationship, having lost my little brother when in died in 1997, they are even more precious and important to me.
  • I thank God for the gifts of my children and grandchildren who have enriched my life in countless ways. By having three children by 21 years of age, I have to admit that in many ways, we grew up together. Ours was a give and take relationship and I’ve learned many lessons about being a mother and a role model from them. They gave me the opportunity to give them unconditional love and those things that I felt that I lacked as a child. My grandchildren are so precious to me and they offer me incentive to make this world a better place, as well as a do-over for the inevitable mistakes that I made with their parents.
  • I thank my incredible husband of 13 years. When we married, neither of us envisioned the twists and turns that life would bring. Like everyone else, there have been a litany of ups and downs, but through love, determination and mutual respect, we continue to conquer them — together.
  • I thank my dear friends, both old and new. They offer me support, honesty, compassion, a shoulder to cry on and unconditional love. They remind me of who I am, during those times when I forget. There is nothing like picking up the phone and hearing the voice of a friend with whom I haven’t spoken in ages and the conversation picks up as though we’d spoken just yesterday. I also relish the close friendships that I have with my daughters. They are two of my BFF’s, and I thank them for being.
  • I thank all of those special people who routinely practice random acts of goodness and kindness. They bring serendipity and wonder to a world that, at times, is harsh and uncaring. They remind us of the true meaning of selflessness, love and kindness.
  • I thank God for the breeze on a hot summer’s day, the melodic song of wind chimes as wind flows by, the smile from a stranger, the gift of forgiveness, those fleeting moments of perfection when everything is right with the world, the sweet music of a child’s laughter, nature in all its’ wonder and grandeur, a sunrise, a beautiful multi-hued sunset, the company of family and friends, calm in the midst of a storm, unexpected blessings, little miracles, the journey, love, hope, faith, joy, happiness, the strength to overcome the hard times, my life, the darkened nighttime sky with stars that sparkle like the finest diamonds, and so much more.

These are my prayers of gratitude and thank you. What are yours?

Blessings, Lydia

Listening to My Inner Diva

Lately, I’ve been beset with stirrings and yearnings from my inner diva. There I was getting ready for one of my

Lipstick (product)

numerous doctor appointments. Rarely a week goes by that I don’t have one and, dressing for them is, believe me, a no-nonsense affair. I grab a pair of yoga pants and a clean shirt and I’m done. Ordinarily, I spend zero time applying makeup. I think, “why bother?” I am just going to yet another doctor appointment and they don’t care how I look anyway. As I stood in front of my bathroom mirror studying my face, I heard the softest inner whisper say “wear some red lipstick.” My initial reaction was not positive. I thought, “there’s no way that I am putting on red lipstick, or any lipstick for that matter!” So ignoring the unwanted intrusion in my head, I set about brushing my teeth and taming my wild hair.

As I was doing so, the insistent whispers became a mantra and the words “wear red lipstick,” bombarded me. No kidding, this went on for a couple of minutes. I was mentally swatting the words like I would a pesky fly or mosquito.  Still ignoring and rejecting the idea, I began to pay attention, not to the words, but my reaction to them.  Why was I so adamantly against something as simple as wearing lipstick? Was I in such a rut that the mere idea of wearing red lipstick could cause me such angst?

Before my health forced me to resign from my attorney position, I wore makeup every day. I was a trial attorney and I routinely met with clients and witnesses, as well as appeared in court for hearings or trials. Makeup was a part of my uniform that enhanced my look and style, and I wore it for me, not for anyone else. It made me feel like I was putting my best self forward. When I went on disability, all of that changed.

In my mind, I had no reason to wear makeup. At first, I was too depressed to even consider it. As time went by, my enormous stash of makeup went untouched and unused.  In all honesty, I didn’t care enough about myself or the way that I looked to bother with makeup.  Under the circumstances, in pain all the time from fibromyalgia and oftentimes, migraines, taking the time to put on makeup seemed absurd to me.  So, I didn’t.

By this time, my hair was tamed and I was fully dressed; however, the voices urging me to put on red lipstick remained.   Still reluctant, I went to my overflowing makeup drawer, opened it and stared for some time.  Lifting my eyes from the drawer, I looked in the mirror.  For the first time in a long time, I studied myself.  I remembered all the reasons that I loved to wear makeup; especially that it raised my self-esteem, and made me feel special.  I hadn’t felt that way in a long time.  I picked up my favorite red lip color carefully applied it to my lip.  I thought, “Today, I wear red lipstick–for me.  My inner diva smiled., and I smiled back at her with gratitude.