Seven Things That I Love About Winter

First, I want to be clear; I’ve never been fond of cold weather. It didn’t help that my Southern birthplace, and childhood home, was New Orleans, Louisiana, a place where severe winters are rare. On the rare occasion that it did snow, I was the only sibling who refused to go outside. I was totally uninterested in building snowmen or otherwise voluntarily being out in the cold. If the temperatures dropped into the 60’s, I was the first to grab sweaters, gloves, hats, and other winter attire. Time has done nothing to change my mind.

In the late 90’s, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia. The symptoms of the condition are varied, but body-wide pain and muscle tension, resulting in chronic pain, extreme fatigue, insomnia, and cognitive deficiencies are among them. In my case, the 24/7 chronic pain forced me to stop actively practicing law some years ago.

I am never without pain, and winter and cold weather are insidious enemies to my body. The thing is that try as I might, I can never warm from the cold, and it prevents me from relaxing my muscles. As a result, they remain in a constant state of tension and stress causing increased daily pain. Nevertheless, as with anything, I believe that there is gratitude to be had in almost situations.

With that said, these are the seven things that make me appreciate the Winter season:

• cold weather attire, especially my favorite, boots

• soft, fannel pajamas

• sitting in front of a roaring fire

• the heated seat in my car

• sitting around our outdoor fire pit with family and friends to stay warm on a cold Winter’s night

• hibernating snakes because they live in our area, and, irrational or not, I am terrified of them, and

• of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas

So, although it is not officially Winter, Lydia’s Winter has arrived. As a result, Spring/Summer clothes are being stored to make room for all of my sweaters, winter hats, cold weather ponchos and coats, and most importantly, a light wool brown scarf that belonged to my long deceased baby brother. When I wear the scarf, I feel so close to him. Also, as a serious boot lover, I am already searching for the yearly pair of boots that I buy to add to my boot collection.

Whether you enjoy Winter or not, I’d love to hear one or more things that you like about the season, as well as any favorite memories that warm your heart about the Winter season.

What Lies Between

Taken by: LKW

I was reading one of my favorite magazines, Bella Grace, and happened upon an article written by Elle Harris. She wrote:

“ …. There is no looking ahead at the Author of Life’s chapter of your tale. And it makes you think, doesn’t it? About what really matters between one breath and another — and whether I’m using the breath within this very moment to compliment or curse, to speak or to listen, to drive away or to draw near. There may be nothing riding on a breath … or there may be everything.”

It is thought-provoking, because it forces me to consider whether I am using each breath for the greatest good. Over the years, I like to remind myself, and others, that we are not promised the next moment. It is not uncommon for us to forget that we don’t know if we will enjoy the next moment. We tend to take it for granted. In reality, that may come as a blessing, because such a realization would undoubtedly paralyze some of us. However, it also holds an important reminder for us. Instead of concerning ourselves with death, it holds a far more precious gift; the gift of savoring life to its fullest.

We have a choice. We can chose to live our moments filled with passion, joy, eager excitement, anticipation, and zeal, or to cease living in preparation for the inevitable. So, ask yourself, how do you wish to live your robust “in-between” moments?

Are they filled with curiosity, and anticipation of what the future holds? Do you take relish in the small things? You know, those seemingly inconsequential happenings that go by unnoticed. The mesmerizing sound of rain on a tin roof. The smell of jasmine wafting through your bedroom window. The sound of your favorite wind chimes as they dance and sing in a breeze. The rhythmic purring of your fur baby. The surprise discovery of a precious photograph that you thought long lost. The smile on your loves one’s face. Scores of these random moments occur every day.

It is said that true happiness comes in living in the present moment. It is in these moments that the magic happens. By recognizing the simple things that go unnoticed around us, we experience that which is truly important. Let’s view our lives as a series of opportunities that hold endless possibilities, and provides us the chance to live each moment of our lives fully, and with contentment for exactly where we are. Doing so, serves the greater good. Wouldn’t you agree?

A MONDAY THOUGHT TO PONDER

I hope that everyone had a relaxing, enjoyable, and Happy Thanksgiving Day and weekend. I hope that it came with the realization that we all have something, even if it is only one thing, about which to be grateful.  May the new week bring you much gratitude. Be safe, be happy, and know that you are loved and valued. 

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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