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Be Grateful – Be Happy

Grateful people are happy people.

Garden of the Gods

Beautiful even on a bad day

Things do get better

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Winter was very long and severe this year.  But… just as the days grow longer, signs of Spring emerge.  I look forward to crocuses every year because it is the sure indicator that Spring is taking hold and warmer, longer, days are ahead.  We begin to shrug off the thick shells we maintained to get through the worst of the cold and weather.

Just like Spring brings about new opportunities and growth in nature, life does get better after our darkest days.

A friend posted the article that reminded us all of the recent losses from the high school I attended in the 1980’s.  My heart aches for every teenager growing up these days.  We are pushing every student to college immediately following high school and not honoring the special talents of individuals.  All I can say is: survive and it does get better.

I didn’t even learn how to study until I nearly failed out of college.  When I began taking my classes, one at a time, on my own dime, I met one of the most amazing teachers I ever had before, or since.  Northern Virginia Community College had a wonderful professor named Mrs. Vines.  She started the first day of class with a simple statement that if any student is willing to do the work, she would help every student pass.  She made herself available by phone, encouraged us to record her lectures and even offered different testing formats to meet every student’s testing strengths.  

If I had not failed those classes, I wouldn’t have appreciated what a gem I had with this amazing professor.  So, yes, through failure, things got better.  I now have my Master’s degree and I am still grateful to Mrs. Vines for sparking my inspiration and for helping me find within myself the ability to not only complete classes, but to deliver myself a near 4.0 gpa.

I ask everyone with connections to teenagers these days, be available, listen, hear and accept that they make mistakes that help them become the adults they will be.

I am grateful I made it through the hardest days, not because I wanted to, but because I had people in my life who made it worth letting the sun rise another day on this life.

Gratitude unloc…

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.
Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/gratitude.html#8TLetOHrUDghodFm.99

Melody Beattie.

Happiness can be as simple as our perspective.  I have to work on seeing others with compassion and understanding.  I have very high expectations for myself which, in turn, transfers to my expectations of others.  Jobs need to be done and some may not have the same disposition.  It is important to have the frank conversations and help people find their niche.  

Things do get better

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What is amazing, in this day and age of social media, we can keep tabs not only on those who we knew way back when, we can support our alma mater and the current students.  We can share the joys and know the sorrows.  This week two teens who attended W. T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, VA, took their own lives.  This prompts me to spend some time reflecting on my teen years and how hopeless some days got before emerging on the other side of high school where I found a new world and a new pathway through life.

When I was 15 years old, I made a huge mistake, under pressure from my family and the drug treatment program in which my brother was a client, which cost me 25 years of friendship.   This situation fractured many relationships as well as made me a target for scorn and ridicule nearly every school day for well over a year.  There were many dark days that I was afraid of possibly bringing harm upon myself, or to be harmed by others.  But, I was lucky, I had some really important things in my life that kept me going:  springboard diving and the friends who were there with me, and my job at McDonald’s.

My sport in high school was springboard diving and I had a very solid group of friends surrounding that.  I especially am grateful to Sam who was my ride, my confidant, and a great support.  I hope he knows how important that was to me then.  My coach Anita was more than just a coach to me.  She helped inspire me beyond the pool.

It may seem silly that a minimum wage job at a fast food restaurant would bring a troubled teenager solace, but it was something that gave me purpose each day.  I hope Carolyn and Tina, know how much their positive attitudes and leadership meant to me.  And that my friend Chip always seemed to know when I just needed to get away and commune with the beauty of nature.

I read a quote today on Facebook on Growing Bolder that reads:  “multiple research studies show, people who lift others tend to be happier and less likely to become depressed as they grow older.”  I believe this to be true.   I was a recipient for a long time in high school.

I find myself wondering how we can reach out and find a way to help teens know and understand that we are all here and understand one key thought… “It does get better.”  I know how dark things can feel.  There were many times, I was ready to just hang it up and find some way out of the quagmire I was in at the time.

Today, it is the little things I notice and feel grateful.  I am grateful for a body that, while not perfect, is doing quite well.  I am grateful for the fact that I have a roof over my head that, while leaky, keeps me safe from the extreme elements.  I am grateful I can do small things that pay my gratitude forward.

My friend Laura is an inspiration in many ways.  This woman is an artist, a mighty fine one too.  She works full time and still finds time to be a regional contact in the Random Acts kindness campaign.  I try and keep the concept of “Pay it forward” in my heart each day.  I may not be active in the AMOK campaign I still try and do little things where I can’t see their reactions, however make me feel like I am adding to the positive energy in the world.

How can we help teens feel less alone in this world?  What can I do?  I think that will be on my mind for a while.

Please, try to find even the smallest gratitudes each day.  Things do get better.  You are beautiful, important, and precious to us all.

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Beauty out of Frustration

Image Things in life are never simple.  A phone switch from old to new, at work, seems like a relatively simple process, however, the proof is always in the pudding.  It isn’t until we pull off the bandage do we know if it is going to hurt.  All that said, thanks to the chaos, we ended up picking up lunch and I discovered a Thai food restaurant that I can visit again. When the worst was over, I was able to get my hair cut, knowing that the latests snow was coming down.  I figured, heck, it can’t be as bad as the snow from Thursday…just a wet snow… how bad can it be? After an hour of heavy snow while I was getting my hair cut, the roads were white and very slippery.  I always drive, severe weather, by the motto of “time, speed, and distance.”  That doesn’t account for steep and icy. I was puttering my way home slowly but surely and I discover a big hill ahead of me is giving some drivers enough trouble to stop everyone else going the same direction.  Gratitude point: I happened to be at a stop light and there was a road to my right.  I had never taken it before, but progress as opposed to stuck on a hill I won’t successfully traverse sounded better to me.  I kept puttering along and found my way back to familiar roads creeping as slowly, with enough momentum to get up hills without losing traction.  I still had one more big hill up and down before getting to the flat roads to the house.  I had enough momentum and discovered cars in front of me did not have the same.  I was able to navigate around these drivers safely and get to the top of the hill; then the final challenge of being able to stop and turn left.   Gratitude point two: I have a stick shift and was able to down shift and use the engine to keep the car from sliding as some other cars begin to spin around down the hill.  Still, I am safe and not at risk and make my last left turn where I can putter my way home.  Cars on this flat road are attempting to get up their steep driveways and were sliding back down.  You know they are no longer a factor when the tires are locked and the car is still in motion.  Once again, I was able to safely avoid collisions.  One last turn then into the driveway and I would be safe.  There is a car too close behind me when I am turning into my driveway so I can’t get the angle and sharp turn I need to get around the huge snow berms on either side of the driveway.  I turn into my driveway and give it some gas.  I get the car into the driveway and quickly lose traction.  I am sliding back and trying to stop the car with it still in the driveway.  I pull the handbrake and with relief (gratitude number three), the car stops with the bumper just barely in the driveway.  I locked the car, gingerly climbed my steep driveway and have my hubby let me in the front door, happy to be alive and safely home (gratitude number four), I grab a glass of wine and plopped onto the sofa.  While this drive home was harrowing and nerve-wracking, I was grateful to be safe, alive and where there was food, a bed and my hubby.  Truly something for which to be grateful. Then Sunday morning at 3 AM.  I gave up a “day job” to come to Connecticut to work with a company that I admired, and work as a manager of a 24/7/365 operation.  That means, I am always on call in some way.  This horrible miserable storm with not a ton of snow turned out to be a mess in one of our key customer areas.  A smart operator called me, woke me and let me know they were swamped.  I knew how to solve the problem, and thanks to technology (gratitude number five), I could do it in my pj’s on my sofa.  I connected, created the solution and ran my favorite tool to help clear out the items swamping the operators.  Unfortunately, each of these 300 plus items were touched by an operator and therefore could not be bulk cleared.  They had to be managed one at a time.  Still, something I could do from my sofa.  2 hours later, the pile was managed and I was able to head back to bed. One the sun came out, and a few more hours sleep, I needed to rescue my car from the scary, steep, and slippery driveway.  We shoveled and salted and dug out the car.  Shoveling close enough to the road way to get the lovely cold, wet and dirty spray from the cars driving by. When we had enough grip on the driveway to get the car all the way up and into the garage, i made my attempt.  The car was still on an icy patch and the berms on the sides of the driveway are taller than the car, so I creep as slowly as possible, catch some ice and began to slide backward.  A truck coming up the road found it necessary to lay on his horn, when there was nothing I could do.  He had plenty of room to avoid my bit of bumper sticking out into the roadway.  When I could finally back out and take a running start I got the car into the garage but not before letting my frustration level get to me.  We still needed to get the rest of the ice off the lower portion of the driveway so we could go get groceries and run errands.  Some of the snow had frozen so solid that no amount of stabbing, chopping, and struggling was going to break through it.  I was ready to just give up and go back to bed, when I took a breather and looked up.  That was when I saw a beautiful hawk flying overhead.  This crusty snow and ice didn’t seem so frustrating.  Gratitude number six: I saw a beautiful, majestic, bird up close. So, while my weekend was significantly shorter than I would prefer, I still found some time to find six separate items for which to be grateful in my days.  Sure, we all let our frustrations get to us and, at times, it can be a good thing to protect ourselves and ensure our safety.  But, if we take a few moments to realize the beauty and luck we have in each day things will not sour our spirits long term.

Some days…

My ‘default’ setting is not “sunny side up.”

When I was 10 years old, I began noticing a ‘blankness’ in my vision that I did not immediately correlate to my excruciating headaches.  When my doctor diagnosed my migraines, I was getting them on a regular basis, and he prescribed me nitroglycerin to dissolve under my tongue.  I quickly discovered that this ‘treatment’ was worse than the ailment.  When I was 14 I discovered the pain that was endometriosis which would make many days of my life filled with debilitating pain.   Given these two significant life affecting challenges, it was very easy to fall into the frustration and despair.

My life didn’t go as I expected.  But I met my life partner and soul mate because of my good and bad decisions and I would never take anything back.

Funny, I happened to play the movie “Up” today and, thanks to they story told, the movie was able to bring me  back to the most important things in my life.  They are not the leaky roof, they are not the mountain of things that need to be fixed with no money to fix them, it is about the fact I have the single most perfect person for me in my life.  I have two cats that are soft and cuddly that bring peace and affection.  And, I have some dear friends from all over the world.

When we see through the static, we can appreciate the things that make life worth living.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Perspective

Glass Still Life Perspective is the angle from which we view the world.  Recently, I had a conversation with a dear person in my life and we were discussing our “dark side.”  It is very hard to look at the reality of who we can become when provoked or afraid.  However, when we look honestly at ourselves we can better prepare how we may react in challenging circumstances.  I know that I have at times not acted in a way that I am proud to revisit.  However each experience taught me something about myself and who I am and who I want to be.

I lost someone who I thought was a best friend a year or so ago and it really hurt.  Not because the friendship ended specifically, but because she told me it was me who created “undue stress,” in her life.  After that, I did look long and hard at my needs in friendship and realized that this friendship was not what I thought it was.  My reuniting with a life-long friend after 25 years apart taught me that.  This dear friend showed me that friendship doesn’t have to be hard or constantly connected.  We rarely speak over the phone but we check in with each other, often at times when we just need that connection, just to let each know we are here and think they are special.

After starting to focus on gratitude, I discovered there are lots of things that are good in my life.  Even the little things are worth celebrating.

This quote says much:

Laugh when you can,
apologize when you should,
and let go of what you can’t change.

Kiss slowly,
play hard,
forgive quickly,
take chances,
give everything
and have no regrets.

Life’s too short to be anything…but happy.

– Unknown

Finding Gratitudes when things are bleak.

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Recently my husband and I bought a new home in a new city.  Time was a factor and we thought this house was at least at a point where we wouldn’t have to pour money into it right away.  Unfortunately we were wrong.  The small leak in the garage is not small and not just contained to the garage.  The kitchen didn’t have enough space for even basic pots, pans and dishes, much less pantry storage.  In essence, we bought a money pit.  So, how is it that before I even make my first mortgage payment, I find gratitude in this financial cellar?  Believe me, it is hard.  But I make a conscious effort each day to find even the littlest things to be grateful.

Each day, I log into my Facebook page and I take time to think about things around me, the people I know, the small victories and I write them down.  It helps.  I still have challenges keeping the blues away because Positive Mental Attitude is not my default setting.  But taking the time to be aware that despite the bad, there is good in life, is worth it.

Come on… Be grateful, Be happy?

SanDiegoSunset

Last year, attending a Training Network complimentary Webinar led by Shawn Achor, I began following his social media sources, including the Training Magazine’s mailing list.  As a result, I received an email with an offer to try a happiness experiment and decided to give it a try.

Prior to beginning the experiment I took a survey answering many questions, and I can honestly say, I was not in the most positive head-space.  I was trying to find a new path and new opportunities and things were not going very well.  I had nothing to lose by taking a few minutes of my evening for 14 days.

In order to keep myself on track, I decided to use my Facebook page.  I figured, if my friends saw this, it might keep me honest and committed.  The first few days were quite hard to think of 3 things that weren’t food, clothing, hubby.  But, I stuck with it and after a few days, I was tucking away experiences that I could put on my daily gratitudes.  And… to my surprise, my attitude started to get better.  Things that would make me cry or angry, didn’t have as much impact on my emotions.  It isn’t to say, I don’t have bad days or overreactions; I am simply saying I had a longer fuse.

When I finished the 14 days I shared my thoughts on my Facebook page and I took the closing quiz.  I was so impressed by the results, I even emailed Shawn Achor my feedback.  What struck me was, that I was not only more happy and able to manage the bumps in the daily road, I received some amazing feedback from people who read my posts.  They said, they really appreciated reading them and hoped I would keep going.  I have.  Each night, before I close down the computer, I write down gratitudes.  Some days the gratitudes are small and simple and others I have those really special moments that let me know this world isn’t as bad as the news portrays.

Anyhow, I am sticking with it and, for that, I am grateful.

 

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