I happen to be a huge tennis fan but even if you aren’t one, chances are you still heard about the Women’s Finals between Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka this past weekend. The controversy, the analysis, the sides taken. I am not going to analyze the whole thing here but I do have real gratitude for it. And the clincher is that I have gratitude for both sides of the controversy even though I have a clear opinion on which side of that line I stand.Read More
School has started. And it is always exciting but also mixed with other emotions, not always easy ones. So this year, I re-read my blog post from last year to prepare. This tool, this tug, has saved me every time and yesterday, the first day of this school year, was no exception. So, today, I am doing a throw-back post to bring you the tool as well. I hope it serves you well...
Yesterday was the first day of school. And it was a doozie. Such a mixed bag of emotions for me and some very intense. It was a day when I practiced what I call my Tug of Gratitude exercise. It is an exercise that will save you every time. For those challenging days, whether full of joy, grief or nostalgia. Fear, anxiety or excitement. It will keep you grounded and help you stay in the present moment which is the key to any challenge. Let me set the stage so you can see how I used it and how it can come in handy for you next time you need it.
Yesterday was my oldest son's first day of high school. An emotional day for many parents for sure. Your first born entering high school, really taking flight, only four more years in the home, it all rushes to you. Nervousness for him socially, for the choices he will be faced with, the increased academic pressures, all of it.
It was my middle son's first day of middle school. So the day so far had two new schools, two new transitions and big milestones. To add to it, my middle son knows no one in this middle school because he changed neighborhoods this year. He was a rock star of sorts at his elementary school and now knows no one at all. That could be the situation for many kids but his added challenge is that he is in a wheelchair, has cognitive delay as well and is basically very different to the kids around him. (and of course, I am scared because middle school kids don't tend to be as forgiving and welcoming as elementary kids) To add to all that, the school district characteristically dragged their feet all summer so he does not have an instructional aide in place which is the key to his success. And on top of all of that, he spent his first stint in the ICU last month for a harrowing few days and has been teetering between solid health and otherwise since then. For the last couple of days, he has had some strange symptoms and we just weren't sure what kind of state he would be in for his first day.
It was my youngest's first day in fourth grade in a school she knows and loves so this was my "easiest" first day child yesterday. I would love to say she is my "baby" but she has flown from the nest faster than the other two. She is her own person and fiercely independent. When she got to school, she learned she wasn't with the friends she had been expecting to be with all summer and I could tell she was not sure how to emotionally express that disappointment balanced with her utter excitement to get to school.
And to add to all of it, the night before was a circus. All three kids had a bad night's sleep, played musical beds and I was up from 3-5 with my middle son. So this morning was pure chaos!
When you are in the thick of all of that, the adrenaline to get them all ready and where they need to go, to three different schools, keeps you focused on the task at hand. I felt things in my body like my heart racing and some intermittent tightness in my chest. And I finally cried like crazy. All of my emotions came to a head and they were a tangled mess. I wasn't even sure what I felt.
But this is what I did during the whole morning. This is the one thing that saved me and might save you. And you can't buy it where you get your school supplies...Some might call it a tug of war but I think it is more a tug of love because gratitude can really be your best friend. Different emotions pulled on me for each child, many very challenging and I tugged back with gratitude, every time.
For my oldest:
I felt rushes of pride for sure, so proud of all he is and yet to become. But what I also felt was rushes of nostalgia as I realized he was really growing up and becoming his own young man. Not needing me as much as he used to. I felt rushes of fear as my own high school experience which was not very positive tugged at my heart, hoping his experience would be different. Fear, anxiety, sadness, letting go all tangled up in my heart. Tugging tightly on my heart.
And with every painful tug, I tugged back with:
"I am grateful that he has the privilege to go to school. I am grateful that he is finding himself as a young man. I am grateful because all of my sadness means that I love so deeply."
For my middle son:
I felt so so much fear that the kids will tease him or worse yet bully him. I felt so much fear that he will have an accident at school and the kids will feel that he is even more different than them. I felt so much nervousness that we will not find an instructional aide who can support him well to learn as much as he can. I felt so much anxiety around this new school, new principal and teachers who yet don't know him and might feel that he is a burden in their classroom. I felt sadness that he couldn't just walk into school like the other kids. I felt sadness that something so simple as school had to be so painful for me. And on and on.
And with every painful tug, I tugged back with:
"I am grateful that he has a school that can welcome him and hopefully celebrate his differences. I am grateful that he teaches me (and others) every day the power of love and tolerance. And I am grateful because my fear means that I can learn to trust more deeply."
For my youngest:
I felt mostly elation that she is getting back to school because she loves it so much. But I did also feel a tug of sadness as she refused to take a picture by her classroom sign, her fierce independence and desire to be "grown up" coming through. I felt sadness for her and her two best friends who were crying that she was not in her classroom. And I felt nostalgia that my youngest baby is not a baby anymore.
And with every painful tug, I tugged back with:
"I am grateful that she loves school so much. I am grateful that her separation from her friends might open other friendships for her. And I am grateful because my sadness about her getting older teaches me to celebrate the milestones of life."
Every time you move yourself to gratitude, whatever challenging emotions you are feeling shift right there and then in the moment.
It is impossible to feel all of that jumbled up stuff while also feeling gratitude for them. Once you move to gratitude, you see the emotions for what they are, just emotions. They are normal, beautiful and sometimes so painful. But that's all they are. And when you feel grateful for all of them, even the really hard ones, they become more than just emotions. They become lessons.
Gratitude is a constant teacher. It brings out the beauty and the teaching in all we experience.
If you let it.
When you feel an emotion tug on you, tug back with gratitude.
This week, I was struck by a powerful statement in our Facebook Gratitude Community (By the way, if you haven't joined our community, it may be time to take a look!) We had a member share about a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, no small discovery. And then she expressed stunning gratitude for so much including her life as it is. This, my friends, is true open-hearted living. Members expressed their appreciation for her sharing and rightfully so, for her courage. And one said it was a reminder for her that we always have time for gratitude and then she said something that resonated for me deeply. She stated her intention to re-prioritize her practice,"...not tomorrow, but today."
Go ahead and read that last part twice. Really let it sink in.
Gratitude isn't something we only look BACK on our lives with.
Gratitude is a way we see things every darn day.
Gratitude is the way FORWARD.
What you have in front of you, right now, no matter what it is, is your one, beautiful life.
Resisting it, fighting it, wanting it to be different, doesn't bring joy.
Riding the flow of your beautiful life brings ease.
Loving whatever comes to you brings joy.
Even if you want to or can change your life, you CANNOT do it with resistance. First, look at your day, find all the beauty, especially the beauty hiding in all the crevices of darkness. Look at all of it. Say thank you for it.
Not only will you notice beauty that went hidden before. You will also realize the ugly parts held gems of light you could not see.
Not tomorrow, but today.
Start small. Start big. But just start.
Start with writing down your gratitude every night. Or every morning.
Start by sharing that with a friend or loved one.
Start by joining our community for support and encouragement.
Start by sitting in your challenges, taking. deep breath, and saying Thank you to this life for all it has and will teach you.
Start Today, not tomorrow.
The absolute best thing about this community for me is the teaching I receive every day. It serves as a gentle but firm reminder that we all need this. And we can all do this. To those two women, I say Thank You. For showing up. For living your one life so beautifully. And for being my teachers.
How will you honor this day with gratitude?
I am one of those people who plans entire trips, not just single trips but year long journeys, around food. Street food, my favorite noodles, food I have never tasted, you name it. I can spend an entire travel day around finding a particular street stall or hailed food destination and skip a museum any time. So, when I started doing this while I travel, everything went up a notch.
Why not learn how to make your favorite foods of a region and savor your travel experience at home in your own kitchen? It was a tremendous start to a new kind of gratitude for travel. But last week, I came back from a trip that was unusually NOT centered around food but that confirmed for me once and for all, cooking classes are the best way to experience a country.Read More
My Gratitude Practice is important to me. Crazy important. It's how I sustain my joy for living, how I find higher ground even in the most turbulent times.
And I often turn to sweet words from wise poets to remind me that the easiest way to have a Gratitude practice is to slow down and look around. Re-read my post A poem A Day... and you will remember how poetry soothes my soul.
And so, this week, I gift you with one of my touchstone poems of Gratitude by Mary Oliver.
It's a poem that you need to read over and over. To remind you of what really matters. Of the only work that means anything. The work of being here, of being alive, and of paying attention.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
And after you read it, soak in it, and forward to a friend who needs it.
One meal, just one meal.
It can be enough. More than enough. To provide an entire gratitude practice.
Today, I am going to let you in on how one meal can bring me to tears, literally, of joy for this life.
Join me and see how you can eat your way to gratitude so bountiful you will be overwhelmed by the beauty of this life.Read More
I didn't even know what Mercury Retrograde was several years ago but now I hear it constantly (and why does it seem to be retrograde all the time?!) as if it is normal speak. Something goes wrong and "Well, you know, it's Mercury Retrograde, right?" As if we are all then supposed to understand why of course, our plane was cancelled or we lost our internet right before a big launch or presentation.
Ok, so here's the deal. About four times a year, Mercury passes by our Earth in its orbit. Alright, we can get down with that. But then apparently, as it comes around the corner, it stops and appears to spin backwards. Just an illusion apparently, but an illusion that creates widespread havoc in communication, travel and technology in particular. So much so that I actually have friends who consult the astrologic calendar and plan trips outside of this time, big meetings, etc. I haven't gotten to that point yet but somehow, I am more aware when this backwards thing is happening and have to admit I have a little anxiety about it.
This current one is July 26th (yep, it already started, you are in the middle of it) and extends to Aug 19th. And I am traveling for the vast majority of it. Yes, clearly, I am not good at consulting the calendar yet so here I am about to travel out of the country with my entire family while this planet is spinning the wrong way and creating chaos.
But, wait, there has to be a way to have Gratitude for this phenomenon right? I mean, if anyone can find it, it must be me! So I am going to try and maybe it's just a sad attempt to try and act like all travel won't go wild for me the next two weeks. But regardless, here's my go at it.Read More
I hear constant quips about work life balance and how to be happier at your workplace. It's the endless quest. We spend most of our time at work, so why wouldn't we want to be happier there? Now, you probably think I am going to say Gratitude at work is the key to happiness there. Well, you know me well. I do believe in that and wrote about how it can be a game changer. But that's not the secret today! Nope, the secret today isn't gratitude but it's something I am definitely grateful for.Read More
You know that feeling when you have an amazing vacation and you come back to work....and it feels like the pits, even if you like your job? And in my work, maybe like yours, when you are gone, messages, to-dos, and emails that need attending to, pile up while I am gone. So then the vacation slowly feels like a dream that never happened and like you are "paying the price" when you return for all the pleasure you had. Can you relate?Read More
I say No.
What we do most of the day, most days is practice the opposite. We compare ourselves to others. To Everyone.
I wish I could dress like her.
I wish I could mother like her.
I wish I could be as successful as her.
And on and on. We compare and we compare.
And that comparison is the death of creativity. The death of it.
We can't create. We can't express our best selves. We can't work towards more joy. If we are always comparing ourselves to others. When we do that, we lose the present moment. We lose our drive to be what we want. We lose ourselves.
So, I say take back the "Self" in Selfish. Take back yourself.
Today, start a new commitment.
To practice Gratitude for yourself, for anything if you can't do that for yourself, Just practice Gratitude...ANYTIME you find yourself in the death spiral of comparison.
Let's turn those statements around into mantras of gratitude and create a new day for ourselves.
I wish I could dress like her becomes....
"I am grateful for MY style" or
"I am grateful for this woman's reflection of a style that resonates with me."
I wish I could mother like her becomes...
"I am grateful that I am a mother who always wants to better myself for my children" or
"I am grateful for this reminder of the parts of mothering I am working on" or
"I am grateful that we as women mother in community so that we may learn from one another"
I wish I could be as successful as her becomes...
"I am grateful for seeking new ways to serve" or
"I am grateful for all mentors, those I know and those I watch from afar" or
"I am grateful for my faith that the Universe will guide me where I need to be"
Take back yourself. Take back your life. With Gratitude.
Transform every moment that does not serve you and comparison never will.
Transform your moments to gratitude for yourself, for all you do, for all you are.
This, my friends, is the start of a path of Self-ishness that we can all be proud of.
You want to start a Gratitude Practice, you’ve heard it’s helpful (spoiler alert: it can change your life) but you don’t know where to start.
I’ve got the answer for you today. I’ve got your back. Read on and let’s get this started together…Read More
I am grateful every day for food. I am grateful for the farmers who plant the food, the drivers who transport it to the market, anyone who cooks it for me, those who serve it, those who share it with me on the table. Food is sacred. And if we remember that every day, we are also able to stay connected to the larger web of life that envelops and nurtures us.
Today, I am giving you the gift of an interview I did for Food Sleuth Radio on the sacredness of food and how your spice cabinet can be your pharmacy. I hope you enjoy it and also remember that each time you eat today is an opportunity for connection and celebration.
Live (and eat) well,