Thank You Very Much!

 

We have just completed a season of giving and receiving. I hope that meant you were gracious and thankful for what you got, whether you were crazy about it or not.  We do not always get what we want, or need or ever thought in a million years would be given to us.  Often that is the case, not just on special occasions, but in life.  I, like many of you, had it drilled into me at a young age to, no matter what, reply by thanking the giver.  If you’re five-years-old and you receive clothes from your Great Aunt Edna instead of the latest toy, it can be hard to make ‘Thank you’ come out of your mouth!

But what about now that we’re all grown up and see the big picture? Can we really be full of gratitude when life hands us something unexpected, or when we’re not ready, or it’s something close but not really what we asked for? I grapple with this dilemma over and over in my mind.  I would love to feel grateful and full of gratitude for what I have, what I am, and the possibilities before me, but instead I am too often obsessed with what I want and don’t have. Recently, a memory hit me in the head over the holiday’s that snapped me out of it.

In the past, we had an adult family member who was particularly ungrateful.  Each year we would put great effort into finding a present this person would open and be happy with, but no matter the effort, the cost, or the thought, each Christmas present was greeted with comments like, “Why would anyone think I would like this?” or “This color never looks good on me.” or “Maybe I can take it back and get something I really want.”  In the beginning we felt bad, and then it became embarrassing and finally, guess what? We just stopped caring whether they liked our gift or not. If our gifts had been met with a kind thank you, we would have been motivated to give even more and would have had a completely different view of them. That made me think, do I want to be like that? Do I want to find fault with every blessing, every situation, and every opportunity that comes my way just because it isn’t what I thought it would be? No I do not. But I’d have to admit, sometimes I have. So how do we come to a place of gratitude? Begin with these three easy steps.

Start with your toes. In yoga class, in order to relax our muscles, we often mentally relax our bodies by starting with our toes and work our way up. Similarly, when I am at a loss of what to be thankful for I start with my toes. Sometimes I am thankful that my toes are warm, sometimes I am thankful my toes don’t hurt, and sometimes I’m just thankful that I have toes! I know it sounds weird but it works, because it’s not that we don’t have anything to be thankful for, it’s that we don’t know where to start. By the time I reach the rest of my body I’ve moved on to much more meaningful subject matter, but it took the toes to get me going.

Control your mind. Keeping negative thoughts out of your mind and replacing them with grateful ones can turn your life around, one day at a time. Our actions and outcomes follow the way of our thoughts. A grateful mind is focused on the best and will bring the best into reality. This is not easy, but the more you do it the easier it becomes and if you do it for at least a month, it will become a habit.

Develop a gratitude system. Whether it is a gratitude journal, index cards, notations on your calendar, or stating what you are grateful for out loud in your car on the way to work; develop a system that works for you and your lifestyle. There is no right or wrong way, some people like to keep a running tab of gratitude and others need to hear it in their own voice to make it real. Do what works and what you will stick with over the long haul, like the rest of your life.

A grateful mind brings us to a place of faith and trust that connects us to creative energies outside of ourselves. As you become more thankful you will change yourself to expect good, and if you expect good you will bring good to you.  If you don’t believe it, try giving out good thoughts, words, and body language as you go through a busy checkout line. I have seen an exasperated clerk transformed into a pleasant only because I wasn’t demanding and was thankful as I made my purchases.  It works! And I guarantee that if you choose to be grumpy, rude and demanding with others, you will receive it back. Choose gratitude, start today, change your world.

“Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” -Cicero

When Stuff Happens

This Too Shall Pass

We never know when life is going to throw us a curve! Little did I know in November 2013 that I would be speaking at the Missouri Hospital Association Conference one week and be in the hospital the next. I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Polymyositis and have been fighting it for over a year. It is a rare disease that attacks the muscles and I was being treated locally with little progress. In March I luckily got an appointment at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota to see a Rheumatologist who specializes in this type of disease and he started me on a treatment that has been nothing short of miraculous! After being on his treatment only a week and a half I was able to drive and go up and down stairs; something I hadn’t been able to do for months. I am almost done with the treatment and while I still have some flexibility to regain, I have my life back!

 The last 2 years have been exhausting, challenging and frustrating as we also sold our home in the middle of all this; I signed the closing papers on our home while lying in a hospital bed. However our new home was being renovated so we lived in three different temporary housing situations until the end of March. Whew!! At the same time I know there have been important life lessons learned and many blessings through my experiences and am determined to get back to speaking, life coaching, and motivating others. I finally feel good enough to resume my business activities and have new insights and amazing stories of inspiration and coping to share with my newsletter subscribers and clients.

When your life takes a hit, you have choices to make. You can choose to ignore it, you can choose to whine about it and live in fear of the next big thing that happens, or you can handle it to the best of your ability with courage, creativity, responsibility, and the knowledge that you will not give up!  Help yourself and those around you by implementing these 5 important skills when stuff happens.

1. Be kind to yourself. 
This is no time for perfectionism. Be more effective, stress less, and conserve energy by adjusting your expectations of yourself. Sure you want to do your best but our ‘best’ varies with our emotional, mental and physical state.

2. Be mindful of your self-talk.  
The inner dialogue and daily messages you send yourself can be your worst enemy. Begin by monitoring the voice in your brain and replace self inflicted criticism with acceptance. When you control your mind you take control of your life.

3. Tune out and turn off.  Too much media focuses on repeating the problems and tragedies in the world. You can’t solve the problems of the world and adding them to your personal concerns can be overwhelming. Allow yourself some quiet time to rejuvenate and restore balance.
 
4. Take small steps.  
Focus on what you can do right now to better your situation instead of the enormity of the problem. List 5 things you can do today that will bring about a positive change and do them. Accomplishments are contagious and small action steps lead to success!

5. Avoid being a Drama Queen or King.
It looks good on t-shirts, pillows and media outlets; it doesn’t play well in real life. Give up the reality show mentality and realize that every incident in your life is not an emergency unless you choose to make it so.

QUOTE OF THE MONTH
“We don’t get to choose the things that happen to us in life. What we can choose is how to react to them, how we deal with them, and how we move on.”
-Sarah Winter

Control the Comparisons

When people gather it is easy to fall into the comparison trap. Unfortunately that can even occur during the holidays. I love this Self Care tip from my friend Karen Rowinsky and wanted to share it with you as you head straight on into the holiday week. Thank you for joining me in 2011 and I look forward to more sharing and growing together in 2012.

 Control the Comparisons                                            
by Karen Rowinsky                                            

Studies on happiness reveal that happier people do not spend much time comparing themselves to others. Of course that is easier said than done. Most of us compare ourselves, our kids, and our economic status to our friends, neighbors, and colleagues. We make assumptions that other people are happier, more in love, more cared about than we are.

The problem with comparing ourselves to others is that some of our assumptions may not be true. People usually put up a good front. Many people show us what they want us to see. They don’t show us their pain about their relationships, the problems with their kids, or their unhappiness or depression.

If you find yourself comparing yourself to others, take a moment to question whether you are basing your comparison on reality. Sure they might have a nicer house than yours but they might be struggling to make payments. Their kids might seem to be excelling in sports but how much pressure are they under? They may have a smile on their face but what is it hiding? You will most likely never know if what you assume is accurate, so why bother comparing?

Self care is controlling the comparisons. When you find yourself comparing, substitute a few minutes of being thankful for what you have instead.

Karen Rowinsky, LMSW, is a licensed master social worker. She has a private counseling practice in Overland Park, Kansas.

Contact her at: 913-663-3511 or http://www.overlandparkcounseling.com/

The 365 Challenge: What are you thankful for?

Yes tomorrow is the official day that we set aside for being ‘Thankful’ but in reality Thanksgiving Day should be a reminder/wakeup call to be thankful, grateful or mindful every day of the year! My challenge to you is to help me do a 365!  I am starting a thankful list on this blog and am challenging all my followers and friends to add to it in the comments section. The goal? To reach a grand total of at least 365 items to be thankful for before Thanksgiving Day is over.

Can we do it? Yes we can!!

I am thankful for: good health, home, my daughter, my husband, my little mama, my son and daughter-in-law, brothers, sister-in-laws, nephews and their families, my great-nephew, our dogs Sparkle and Dexter, all my aunts, uncles and cousins, my faith, freedom, my eyesight, my hearing, my strange mind, creativity, my legs for exercising, sense of touch, sunshine, sunrise, sunset, the smell of rain, fingers to type with, my friends of all ages, backgrounds, and interests who make my life so much fun, good memories that sustain me, bad memories to learn from, silence, giggling babies, hot chocolate, my voice, singing, rhythm, pumpkins, squash, chocolate, pecans, old photographs, books, shoes, clothes, reading glasses, fingernails, fuzzy socks, popcorn, warm soup on a cold day, hot apple cider, sticky notes, my car, feet for walking, soft, warm blankets, puppies, clients who hire me to speak, Facebook friends, the Mogul Mom Community, the ability to be a friend to others, learning that never ends, listening skills, compassion, grandmothers, inventors, my imagination that fuels my soul, artwork that appeals to the heart and eye, teachers of all kinds, disciplines, and temperaments, volunteers that make our world better for no other reason but to make it better, journals with blank pages waiting to be filled, the smell of cinnamon, the musicality of my mother’s wind chimes from the farm that sounds like God talking to me, artist talent, electricity, LinkedIn connections, people who understand computers, and much, much MORE!

Now it’s your turn; comment on this blog by listing what you are thankful for and help me meet the 365 challenge!