Tag Archives: gratitude

When I used to take my golden retriever to our local nursing home I quickly noticed who the most popular residents were.  They were the people whom always had a smile on their face, were pleasant to talk to and who chatted about things other than their health or how horrible their room was.  These were not special people – they had aches and pains like everyone else; they sold their homes, gave many personal possessions away and moved into a less-than-desired place like everyone else but their attitudes set them apart.  Nurses enjoyed them, other residents admired them and people like me respected them.  It was their attitude that set them apart.  They seemed to take every situation – good or bad – and found some piece of good within it all.  I quickly realized that I wanted to have that kind of outlook when I was at that stage of my life.  I didn’t want to be the person who finds fault with every little thing, who complains about every person they run into; who holds onto a bitterness that spreads like a cancer.  I have lived with people like that for a good part of my life and it wasn’t who I wanted to be.

I stopped volunteering at the nursing home when my dog died but the lessons I learned there have stuck with me.  It’s not easy to keep a positive outlook when I have chronic pain.  I’ve recently come to the realization that I’ve suffered from some form of pain since the age of 16.  I don’t know what it’s like to wake up pain-free, and that can take its toll so I get it.  But honestly, it’s becoming easier to maintain a positive outlook the more I practice it.  Nothing has taught me that more than dealing with neck/shoulder pain for the last 6 months but every night before I go to bed I am thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given since this happened.  I can still use my left hand to paint and have gained a new skill that I never would have had reason to attempt otherwise.

My largest left-handed painting to date.

My largest left-handed painting to date.

So, an update.  I am still having issues and there are days when I can’t set foot in my studio – even to paint with my non-dominant hand, due to the pain that radiates from my neck down my arm.  But I am learning to redirect that energy towards other things that I CAN do.  Yoga is one of those beautiful things in life that waits for me to come back to it, just like an old, dear friend.  It doesn’t matter that I can’t currently hold plank. or Downward facing Dog – it’s just glad to see me taking care of my body the best I can, and even though my upper body may be regressing somewhat, my lower body is still strong and powerful.

Bound half lotus tip-toe poseThis week I nailed bound half lotus tip-toe pose and I am grateful; when my pain resolves itself I know that I’ll appreciate painting in a way that I never have before.  These are the mantras I play over in my head and it makes all the difference in the world.   Of course I still have down days – I’m human; but I won’t let them define me.

 

…and what a year its been.

I’ve participated in and/or overheard several conversations lately where I’ve heard the phrase, “This has been such a (fill in the blank) year.  ‘I can’t wait for it to be over.”   It has been a difficult year for a lot of people.   It has been no picnic for me either, to be honest; but the end of this year brought me something other than the desire for a new calendar.  I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older (it probably has everything to do with the fact that I’m getting older) but I’m not spending my days wishing for them to be over like I used to.  Time starts to be a hot commodity by age 40 or so, and I don’t want to spend the rest of mine wishing for anything other than the moment I’m in. 

I’ve often been found reading old journals on New Year’s Eve.  Skimming over the year’s events, I’d find myself stopping at the rough patches and reading through each of them.  I did this not because I wanted to wallow in all of the bad things that happened that year but because, somehow, it reinforced the idea that I survived it all.  Reading those things made me feel – stronger.  A bit melancholy, but stronger. 

You know what, though? That ritual is so 2011.  I don’t need any more reminders of how strong I am.  What I want is to be reminded of how lucky I am; how grateful I am to have this life.  This is just one more reason why I’m more than ready to start our 31 Days Of Gratitude on Tuesday as part of the HL Challenge.  Except I plan on continuing the practice of writing down the things I’m grateful for long after the challenge is over.  I will be doing it all year long. 

At the end of 2013 I’m going to go through each slip of paper, and instead of being filled with thoughts of ‘how did I ever get through that?  I’m SO glad that’s over!’ I’m going to have 365 pieces of paper which will help me see that life happens the way I choose to see it.  Bad things are always going to happen; it’s a sobering fact of life.  Allowing the bad to overshadow the good, though….that’s simply wasteful.  I love this quote by Thornton Wilder:

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”

Like everyone else in those same conversations about looking forward to the New Year, I’m looking forward to certain things, myself.  By actively starting to live my life in gratitude, I’m looking forward to all of the perks it will bring me:  less anxiety, less stress, better eating habits, healthier self-esteem and happier days.  For all of my readers, friends and family, here’s to a memorable and exhilarating 2013. 

XO,

~Ellen

Gratitude in December

 

http://spiritgrooves.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/gratitudexmas.jpg

 

Teresa over at Spirit Grooves always reminds me to post my gratitude list for the month.  It seems like I only remember after she’s posted hers;  I’m pretty grateful for that!  Well, that and the fact that I loved her image enough to use it for my own post today (see above and thank you, Teresa!) 

I realized that I have a lot of things to be grateful for this month.  It’s just a matter of seeing through the chaos and spotting the beauty that patiently waits for me to notice. 

 

This month I’m most grateful for….

1.  …the couple of days Craig and I spent in Chicago this past weekend.  There was an exhibit that I really wanted to see at the Museum of Science and Industry and Craig had been wanting to go to a couple of architectural salvage warehouses, so we decided this was what we wanted most for each other for the holidays.  I called up my nephew who was willing to come and dog sit and we left on Friday.  I think this may end up being an annual event for us. We are more about experiences rather than gifts at this point in our lives, and stepping away from the daily chaos that surrounds us – even for a short time – does so much good for our marriage (and sanity!)  And, we had a great time.

Here is an Instagram photo of the Christmas tree outside of the John Hancock building. 

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2.  …the fact that my back didn’t give me too much trouble while we were away.  I am still nursing it back to health after over-using it for the past 6 months while waiting for my stomach muscles to heal from surgery.  It took a lot of time and energy to get it into great shape before, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get back to where I was but I’m truly grateful that my pain level was tolerable and allowed me to enjoy myself this weekend. 

3.  …finding new tea to enjoy!  I get so excited over the simplest things, don’t I?  lol  While in Chicago this weekend Craig and I were wandering around in a neighborhood near Wrigley Field and came across a tea shop I’d never heard of before, called David’s Tea.  When we went inside, I felt like a kid in a candy shop.  There were teas with names like Movie Night (real popcorn pieces inside), Red Velvet Cake (with chocolate bits and sprinkles) and Toasted Marshmallow (with brittle pieces, marshmallow bits and allspice).  I was in tea heaven!  I bought samples of nearly 10 different types and am sure I’ll be blogging about them at some point; I always love finding new things to try. 

4.  …the kind and thoughtful words of my customers via email and on Etsy.  Being a newbie business owner comes with all the highs and lows of a kid going through puberty.  One minute you think you’re doing what you were put on this earth to do, and the next minute you’re filled with fear and doubt and wondering What was I thinking?  Was I dropped on my head as a baby?! 

But then I receive a note from a customer about his/her purchase and it sends me over the moon.  Counting on feedback from outside sources should not determine our paths in life, but when you’re in the early stages of a new venture, the kindness of others can do remarkable things to help you find your footing.  I’m grateful to know that my artwork is bringing joy to people.   It keeps me focused on days when a particular painting keeps yelling, ‘Oh, you may think you’re done, but lady you’ve got a LOT more work to do’.  Like this one:

 

5.  …the decision to host my third annual Hate Loss Challenge in January.  I hesitated at first because I was convinced that I’d be too overwhelmed because of the commitment, but then I realized that I need it just as much as anyone (and it always seems to have a way of bringing participants closer together, doesn’t it?).  I even designed a new logo for this year, as some of you may have noticed.  If you’re new to the Challenge, I’ll be posting an overview soon.

6.  …and as always, I’m grateful to my readers.  You are all amazing people and very special to me.

 

See you back here later in the week.  Have a good one! 

 

~Ellen

Gratitude in Abundance

Gratitude. 

I am all about it, lately. 

I was with my mother yesterday as she went to see her surgeon about her recurring leg pain.  Despite the fact that she is physically healed from the horrific accident that almost ended her life, it is over two years later and she is in daily pain.  Yet, for my mother, she rarely complains about it.  It appears that removing the screws that are in her knee may just relieve some of the pain she’s experiencing, so as a family, we may be gearing up for another rally as Mom goes through her 4th surgery.  Luckily, this one will be minor and outpatient compared to the others, but surgery is still surgery and no one knows surgery better than she.  And I. 

In two days it will be 4 months since my own surgery and I have dedicated myself to writing a gratitude list every night before bed.  Some nights as I shift underneath my heating pad I don’t feel like being grateful – especially when ‘heating pad’ is one of the things I’m grateful for, but the more I write, the more grateful I become.  It’s true.  Habits form and it feels like the brain is slowly being rewired to see life differently. 

So, in these days of heating pads and ibuprofen, I cannot tell you how lifted I felt as I read from Teresa’s post that I was on her gratitude list – me!  (I know, right?)  What a beautiful thing to know that you are a presence in someone’s life.  She is certainly a presence in mine. 

You must know this about yourself.  There are people who look to you, believe in you, admire you, feel comforted by you and love you.  Yes, life gets in the way and words go unsaid, but they come when you least expect it and when they do, let me just say, it feeds the soul.   

Of course, to receive we must also give, so today I give my gratitude list to Teresa for her Monthly Gratitude Post instead of leaving it my personal journal:

1.  I am grateful for the fact that I feel my body working hard to recover from my surgery, and to know that soon, I will be in a much better, stronger place than ever before.

2.  I am particularly grateful to see nature in the form of compositions like this around my neighborhood:

 

 

 

3. I am grateful for this blog and for every single one of you who reads it. I realize that it has gone though a series of multiple personality changes over the past few months as I search for a new writing voice, but to those of you who’ve hung in for the long haul, I am beyond humbled.

4. I am grateful that my mother continues to provide the kind of example I want to live by. She carries on despite her pain, and tries to make the most of every single day.

5. I am particularly grateful for my husband, Craig. The unwavering support he’s given me as I attempt to start my own business and work from home has been amazing. His faith in me gives me faith in myself.

 

Speaking of gratefulness, I’m both grateful and excited for Laura at Laura Lives Life to have generously donated some of her blog space to host a giveaway with one of my art prints being the prize:

 

 

The giveaway is still going on by the way, and a winner will be announced on Friday, so head on over to Laura’s blog and if you like this particular print leave a comment so you can be in the running to win it! 

 

What are you grateful for today?