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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

The start of the ride for the handcyclists

A couple of weeks ago, I completed a bike ride called the Kelly Brush Century Ride. The choices for distance were 25, 50 or 100 miles, and I chose the 25 since I hadn’t ridden in years. A number of people asked me how it went (how I felt, during the ride) and I said, “I felt great on the flat ground, scared on the downhills, and inadequate/discouraged on the uphill portions”.

I had to walk up a number of steep hills….well, I’m not sure that I had to, but I felt like I did, and lots of people passed me. At one point (maybe around mile 18?) I had gotten off my bike and was trudging up a steep portion of the ride. My steps felt like lead, I imagined my body, not as a fit thing, but more like an elephant taking one big round heavy step at a time. I didn’t feel like it was a mistake to have done the ride, but I certainly didn’t feel inspired either.

As I slowly pushed my bike up what seemed to be an endlessly long incline, I noticed one of the hand-cyclists ahead of me. I hadn’t seen him pass me earlier, but there he was, pedaling with his hands up this incline. There were about 25 riders who completed the ride by using their arm-strength alone. …and who didn’t have the option to get off their bikes and walk.

Seeing him up there, not moving quickly, not passing anyone, but moving with such determination, helped me so much. For one thing, it shut up my mind that had started to complain that it was embarrassed about needing to walk. We met on a straight part of the ride and I thanked him for inspiring me. He answered with a smile, “I’m only being me.” My next thought was, “Well just being you, has just inspired me beyond words.” I was too choked up to say this.

I want my life to matter. I want to live every moment of my life by saying yes to it, not by sitting back and hoping that someone else will do it for me, or will finally pay attention to me, or notice my efforts.

I cannot be hindered by the world (only by my own thoughts) because I always have the choice to think something different if I find myself lost in self-pity or discouragement.  I can think about the everyday heroes who get up, every morning, with huge obstacles to overcome, but they do it….and maybe my life, maybe me walking up a hill that I clearly couldn’t pedal up, inspired someone with that thought, “If that old gal can do it, maybe I could give it a try!”

“Everyone has a story that makes me stronger.” Richard SImmons

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The give away is one tin of my skin balm, Mary's Skin Survival Balm

The give away is one tin of my skin balm, Mary’s Skin Survival Balm

When I’m having trouble feeling grateful, one thing that I do (to help myself break out of my self-imposed suffering) is to sit down, look around me, and notice all of the gifts that have come to me in unexpected and delightful ways. Sometimes my eye will fall on a cute vase that I just picked up for $1 at the thrift store. Sometimes, I’ll notice larger items that came to me out of the blue, and sometimes, I’ll think about a phone call that made my day, but no matter what comes to mind, I always feel better by the end of this little game and interestingly enough, it seems to summon even more gifts.

Several weeks ago, I was standing in the check-out line at the IGA, and a woman came over to me and started complaining about how difficult things had been. The man behind us, then offered her his spot in line and stepped back. She didn’t even acknowledge him or his gift, she just put her milk down and kept talking about her fears. I didn’t “blame” her….I’m sure that I’ve been in that place too; so wrapped up in my own little world of problems that a gift could literally knock me over and I’d miss it, but it was just so apparent that her unhappiness was largely due to her limited “vision”.

How many gifts come our way every day that we miss or dismiss as nothing, insignificant, or unimportant, when the very act of noticing (and appreciating) the small things, opens the channel for more, and helps us to have a much happier life?!

So what better day than today for a give-away, and the way that you enter is by commenting on one gift that has come your way in the last week. I will choose a random winner on Monday the 28th.

“Gratitude helps you to grow and expand; gratitude brings joy and laughter into your life and into the lives of all those around you.” Eileen Caddy

 

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Gratitude

Antique letter “G” tea cups (with tea-lights inside) that I picked up at the thrift store. My sons’ last name begins with a G, so I couldn’t resist….plus, these thin, old cups are super-cheap and make wonderful soft lighting for holidays.

I bought 4 old tea cups and saucers (thinking that my sons might like them as part of the Christmas-table centerpiece), but I put them on our coffee table a few days ago, and this morning it occurred to me that there could be no better reminder of what tomorrow is: A day dedicated to Gratitude.

…But I don’t want to wait to be grateful for my life. I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or even what may happen in the next hour, so I’m not going to wait to acknowledge the gifts that I have received. I am dedicating this day to letting those people who have helped me to “see the light within” know how much I appreciate them, and I am starting with you. Thank you for being a part of this White Feather Farm blog community. Thank you for your loving energy, that I can feel whether you comment every day or never. I am deeply grateful for your presence.

I’d like to invite you to share anything (and everything!) that you are grateful for here on this blog, and if no one has told you today how special you are, let me be the first.

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think, with deep gratitude, of those who have lighted the flame within us“. Albert Schweitzer

 

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A rose plant that I bought a month ago (hoping to eventually transplant at our new home) is in its second period of blooming!

I ran early this morning and the thought came to me to see if I could say “Thank You”, 1000 times over the weekend. Doing some quick calculations, I figured that if I sat for 3 minutes in the morning and evening, and dedicated those times to just thinking and feeling the words, “Thank You”, that by Sunday night, I would have said/thought this at least 1000 times (and I am not about to actually count because that would feel like a chore and this is not about struggle in any way).  I also wondered how this might change me: what doors would open inside. And then I thought about he power of doing this together as a community.

So, it is Friday and if you would like to join me in this practice/adventure/challenge then you are invited!  It would be wonderful to hear from anyone who would like to share about your experiences either giving this a try, or with a personal story of gratitude, a quote or a word. I’ll be doing this too; both checking in and posting when I feel moved to do so.

Four Rules

1.Only do this if it feels like a Good idea…this should not be another thing to feel bad about!

2.and even if you only get to say, 10 thank you’s, you are welcome to “borrow” from the group to meet your quota!

3. Comment as many times (or not) as you would like over the weekend.

3. If you are not feeling at all grateful,  maybe dip into the pool of gratitude that will be created here and just float and absorb the Love.

“If the only prayer you ever say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough“. Meister Eckhart

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Fred on the clean cover

Last week, I was lying down on the couch talking with my sister on the phone, and about 5 minutes into our chat, I noticed that my sweater felt damp. I reached behind me and felt my back, and then the couch, and realized with some minor horror that both were wet. Obviously, one of the cats had thrown up, mostly water, but it had soaked a large part of the cover, a cushion, and the couch underneath.

My first reaction, when things like this happen, is to go to worst case scenarios: something is seriously wrong with one of the cats, the cover will be ruined, the couch will always smell. These kind of thoughts; ones that escalate a situation, are always accompanied by a feeling of panic. In the moment, they create a chaotic atmosphere and make every little thing into a crisis. If left unchecked, they start drawing other negative thoughts and circumstances into my life. I wish that I could go instantly to a calm, accepting feeling inside when something like this happens, but generally that is not the case. Usually I notice how bad I suddenly feel, and this is my signal to change my thoughts.

A tool that I learned to use, years ago, and one that I must say, always works, is to simply say (and keep repeating), “Thank you”, when I feel overwhelmed. As I did this the other day, while at the same time removing the cover and taking the cushions apart, I could feel an inner “OKness” come over me. I caught the negative before it made a miserable atmosphere in my home. I ended up feeling wonderful and now have a clean and good smelling couch cover. Jack walked in later that day and said, “That couch looks brighter. What did you do to it?”

Just saying thank you, even when you don’t feel grateful in the moment, seems to unlock a spiritual door inside. It turns things around, sometimes so quickly, that the thing that seemed awful, can suddenly reveal a hidden gift.

The unthankful heart… discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day and, as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find, in every hour, some heavenly blessings!  Henry Ward Beecher

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Our tree

Monday afternoon we bought our Christmas tree and as soon as we got it home and up, we both noticed that it looked pale. Then we realized that the needles were falling off at an alarmingly fast rate. It was obviously a tree that had been cut for a while, and we felt bad about it, like we had done something wrong; we were in too much of a hurry, we should have looked at more trees, why didn’t we notice its color at the tree farm?

Tuesday morning we had a talk and decided that we either had to get a new tree, or think about this one in a new way. I wasn’t about to go through the next 3 weeks feeling disappointed every time I looked at our tree. But more important than that, I have come to see that disappointment is a low-vibrational energy and even when it starts as something so small as this, if I don’t catch it, pretty soon other things in my life will start looking bad. Maybe Jack and I will get into a fight over leaving the milk out, and then I’ll remember that a friend said she’d loan me a book and didn’t, and I’ll think that maybe she’s not that great a friend and feel bad about that, then I’ll notice that I have had a nagging headache and wonder if I have a big disease that I have been ignoring….on and on, the little negative thoughts will creep in and edge out the delight of this day, until it all looks as dull as the little tree.

I went for a run, which is a really good place for me to get clear, and decided to think good thoughts about the tree on purpose. I started saying,  “This is the most beautiful tree ever. I love our tree.”  I felt better. When I got home, I was arranging some loose evergreens and had the thought, “Why not insert boughs of different trees into it?” I’ve always loved wreathes that were made of a variety of evergreens but never thought to add them to our Christmas tree.

I went outside with Luke and started taking branches from all of the different kinds in our yard; white pine, blue spruce, cedars with little cones on them. I had a blast and came inside and started putting them into our tree. The more I put in, the brighter, greener, and fuller it looked, until I thought, “This is the most beautiful tree that we have ever had. Why didn’t I think of this in past years?!”

A friend of Jack’s came by Tuesday afternoon and said, “That is a gorgeous tree. What kind is it?”                  I thought, “It is a ‘collection of good thoughts’ tree!”

“I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes“. e.e. cummings

the TED talk below was sent to me yesterday by Jonne. It is so wonderful and uplifting. It is 10 minutes long and even if you don’t have the time to watch it…do it anyway. You will be very grateful that you did!

http://tedxtalks.ted.com/video/TEDxSF-Louie-Schwartzberg-Grati/player?layout=&read_more=1

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I was a horrible student in high school, and prided myself on never taking home a book, which earned me the distinction of graduating at the bottom of my class. When I was in my twenties, I realized that I wanted an education, but had serious doubts about my abilities/intellect. I considered myself to be a poor student (which I certainly was), but didn’t know if this was just because I wasn’t smart, or because I never tried. By this time, I also had 2 small children at home.

During my second semester at a community college, I became friends with my Chemistry professor. She and I were about the same age, and occasionally went out for a drink (more about this part of my story at a later time!) after class with a few other students. One evening during casual conversation, she asked me how I was doing in my other classes. I said, “I’ve gotten mostly B’s”. She then looked me in the eyes and said, “That is not good enough for you.”

This woman, who had a master’s degree and was teaching at the community college level, saw me as an A student?! My life changed in that moment. I started studying like my life depended on it. Shortly thereafter, I transferred my credits to a University, graduated summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, received a full scholarship to graduate school (to study Economics…this is a long story!) and eventually was accepted at Harvard Divinity School.

It was almost 30 years ago that Martha (I cannot remember her last name) said those words to me. I don’t remember much about Chemistry; what she had to teach me didn’t have anything to do with that. She saw something in me that I hadn’t yet recognized, and had the courage to say it. We are all teachers in this incredible classroom of life. Our words matter…more than we can ever know. Thank you Martha!

Everyone has inside of him a piece of good news. The good news is that you don’t know how great you can be! How much you can love! What you can accomplish! And what your potential is!” Anne Frank

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beautiful door lock at the great camp Sagamore

Jack and I were talking about an opportunity that came his way several years ago, one that was fun, exciting, profitable, and totally engrossing. We can both easily remember those feelings of working on the project, first him alone, and then us together. During the conversation I said, “That was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.” This statement led to a sigh on both of our parts, until we caught it.

To think that there will never be another______, implies that the best has already come and gone, and everything will pale in comparison from here on in.  Saying that something was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, insures that it will be.  It is a statement that closes off an expansive  future…just a little. That particular opportunity will not come again, but something with the same feeling quality is what I want to stay open to.

It is my intention to experience full connection, meaningful, rich relationships, work, and play for the entire time that I am alive. Remembering the feelings when things were really great, and then saying as my prayer, “Thank you for the incredible experience of _______I am looking forward to feeling this again”,  opens doors for more.

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Wake up call

As I was sitting at my desk at 5:45 this morning, answering emails, I heard a subtle clucking sound, rhythmic and soft. I didn’t pay attention at first. Then I sort of jolted myself awake and grabbed my camera and hustled outside barefooted, and still in my p.j.’s, to see a family of turkeys crossing the road in the early morning mist.

I believe that every experience that comes to us, also has a blessing (sometimes hidden) and that birds and animals show up at certain times with messages to pay attention to. Turkeys always remind me to say thank you. Just to say it for no particular reason; to say it for everything. Wouldn’t it be fun to see how many things that we could find today to not only be grateful for, but to say thank you for? Even if we just walked around our own homes saying thank you for the things that we usually take for granted. Thank you to our animals for their unconditional love, thank you for our computers, our cell phones, our pajamas! I am going to start right now:

Thank you to all of you who read this blog! Thank you to everyone who sent Jack birthday wishes yesterday (written or thought). Thank you God for turkeys, for reminding me to be thankful! Feel free to share your thankful thoughts on the blog today too!

“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it“.
William Arthur Ward

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This morning at White Feather Farm: our generator

Several years ago, we had a huge storm here in the northeast which took the power out for days. As I recall, the temperature hovered around 30 degrees (not cold for us) but by the second day, our house was also that temperature and things that we took for granted, like being able to flush the toilet, were no longer functional. We kept expecting the power to come back on, but the forecast by Niagara Mohawk was not good. At 5 a.m. we bundled up (even more) and headed to town for coffee.

Luckily the West Village Market had coffee, heat, WiFi and working bathrooms! I was feeling optimism and appreciation….until I went on-line and started looking for a generator. We had talked about buying one before but never got around to it. Now I, and every other person in the northeast, was looking and there was not one to be found.

We headed back home. Many times, when Jack and I hit a “crisis” situation, I am the one who can keep an optimistic attitude. I know the power that attitude and emotions have to line us up with good solutions. But I forgot all this that morning. I did not even feel a drop of hope inside…could not pull up one positive thought and wasn’t trying. We drove past Endee Electric, and Jack said he was going to stop in and see if Bob knew where we could buy or rent a generator. I said, “Jack, don’t bother him now. He has probably been out all night on calls.” Jack drove past and then stopped and said, “I am going back. It will only take a minute and I really want to”. I was annoyed. I imagined myself sitting in the car for 1/2 hr while he chatted with Bob, coming out no further ahead.

I sat in the car wondering if we should check into a motel, if the cats would be warm enough, if the pipes would freeze, if the basement would flood without the sump pump…all sorts of negative thoughts took over as I sat in my gloomy little space.  Jack came out of Bob’s a few minutes later and got into the car, turned to me and said, “Bob has one generator left and he is coming by at noon to hook it up.”

I was stunned, delighted, and so grateful that I had been wrong….that Jack had not joined me in my bad attitude but kept his balance.  He had never felt as pessimistic as I did during this situation, so he was able to find a solution that worked.

We lost our power again last night at 1 a.m. and Jack immediately hooked up the generator and then stayed up most of the night,  to make sure everything was running fine. As we talked over coffee this morning I noticed that he wasn’t upset that he lost sleep or that there was yet another storm… he said he was feeling such gratitude for having a generator. I agreed. I was also feeling gratitude for the generator, but even more than that, for his attitude on that winter morning a few years ago.

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