Archive: Gratitude

June 14, 2014

Hooray for dads!

fathers day

As someone who has lost her dad to cancer, I know this day can be hard. I know it can be hard for those of us grieving and missing our fathers. I know it can be hard for dads who are missing their children and can’t be with them today. I know it can be hard for anyone who wishes their father was more of a loving presence in their lives. I know today can be painful for anyone who feels let down by their dad.

I also know there are many wonderful, loving, supportive, fantastic dads out there!

I celebrate Dads and Father Figures today.

And I also hold a little extra space in my heart for anyone struggling today.

Happy Father’s Day!

Filed under: Gratitude, Holidays, Parenting — admin @ 3:54 pm

May 30, 2014

Savoring Your Moments

Life is full of moments. Some are hard, some are beautiful, some are painful, some are joyful – all are fleeting.

I’m back in Portland after 2 weeks in Paris. If you had asked me how the trip was during journey I would have had a different response every day. At 3 in the morning when we had been up for hours I would have said it was hard or exhausting. When my daughter walked under the Eiffel Tower focusing on the ground and collecting rocks instead of the noticing the monument I would have said it was surprising. When I was charged a ridiculous amount for a ride from the airport I would have said it was frustrating. When met new friends (who happen to also live in Portland) and watched our daughters play in the sand together I would have said it was connecting. When I was walking in my neighborhood, soaking up the cobblestone, flower-filled balconies, and watching people at cafes I would have said it was perfect.

Paris balconies

Now as I look back on the trip as a whole, it’s true parts were hard, it’s also true that it was one of the most important things I’ve done. I traveled to Europe with a 2 year old. I faced fears, I embraced joy, I engaged my senses – I realized how strong I am. I learned and experienced so much!

The last day of the trip it felt like everything was going wrong. There were so many obstacles and I had such high hopes for the day. There was a moment when I wondered, “Why did I do this?” I heard all of the voices of people who suggested my daughter was too young to enjoy it, it would be too much for me or too expensive or I should wait. And for a few hours I bought into those voices. I wrote in my journal about how hard it was and about all of the things I didn’t get to do that I had wanted to do. The next morning I carried all of our luggage down 2 flights of stairs, climbed into a taxi with my daughter and watched the Paris landscape disappear as we drove to the airport. I piled our suitcase, the pack ‘n play, her stroller and my laptop bag on a cart, picked up my sleeping baby in my other arm and rolled the luggage cart around the airport. I practiced my french as I asked someone where to check-in. As I turned to find the correct desk, I stopped and I was overcome by such a sense of pride. I stood in the middle of Charles De Gaulle airport, arms aching from the weight of my baby, as people from other countries hurried around me and I felt so strong and so content. On the flight home all of the joy and excitement and passion and adventure came flooding back. I was able to sit and enjoy the memory of some magical moments.

It’s so important to feel what we are feeling. I needed to acknowledge the hard and let myself feel the disappointment about the last day. As I feel my feelings they move through me and I can truly savor all of the special moments from my trip (and my life).

There was the moment we were out to coffee and my daughter pointed up above and said “tweet tweet” and I saw a trapped bird. On the way home from that cafe we found a snail shell and countless rocks (or “heart rocks” as she calls them after finding a rock in the shape a heart and hearing me call it a “heart rock”).

Paris Bird

There was the moment we waited in a long line to get ice cream on ile st louis…and the reward we experienced when we tasted the cone with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of coconut (I’m still dreaming of that ice cream and I think she is too).

There was the moment a young man asked if I wanted help carrying my stroller up the stairs in a metro station. I took the top of the stroller, he took the bottom, his friend faced my daughter and they sang to each other as we climbed 3 flights of stairs.

There was the moment when we first arrived and decided to head out to explore after a nap. We ended up at a boulangerie I used to frequent when I was last in Paris. We got a chausson aux pommes (just like I used to) and sat in the park where I used to journal. I shared my daughter’s first french pastry with her and remembered how 3 years ago I sat in that park and wrote about being ready to have a child and dreamed about my future baby.

There was the moment I walked along the Champs Elysee and felt this –

‘My heart has wings. Today it nearly flew right out of my chest. Or burst…but not in a bad way, in a “I don’t know how there is any more room in here, I’m so incredibly full!”‘

Paris Flowers

There was the moment I sat at the Rodin Museum a little disappointed because I wasn’t feeling well and some of the rooms weren’t open and my daughter looked at me, started laughing and took off down the path. She toddled along with her arms raised, she would look back to see if I was following and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

Paris Rodin Daphne

There was the moment we blew bubbles out of our apartment window and watched a group of school kids chase them below.

Paris Bubbles

There were so many moments where I connected to my senses, engaged with all the parts of Paris that I love and truly reconnected to who I am. And there were so many moments where I acknowledged my strength and learned new things about who I am and who I am becoming.

So

Paris Eiffel

Many

Paris sky

Special

Paris Street

Moments

Paris Sunset

As you go through your day, your week, your year – what moments can you savor? Even today, can you stop and really connect with what happened this morning or yesterday? There was the moment your child said something for the first time or your partner introduced you to a new food or someone said something really kind or you paused for 15 seconds and felt peace. There was the new pose in your yoga class or the new rose in bloom on your rose bush or the moment your dog nuzzled up next to you and exposed his belly for a scratch. There was the first sip of your morning coffee, dandelions blowing in the breeze or the ecstasy of clean sheets against your weary body. There were kisses (did you let yourself linger and lean in?) and laughter and maybe some tears.

Savoring your moments is different than clinging to them. You can live in the present and also savor what happened recently (or even a while ago). Savoring allows you to feel gratitude. It allows you to feel joy (and sometimes pain). It allows you the opportunity to honor the truth of your life.

Life is full of moments. Some are hard, some are beautiful, some are painful, some are joyful – all are fleeting.

Looking for more information about Paris and Sensuality? Read my May newsletter – Greetings From Paris – A Lesson in Sensual Living. Subscribe to my newsletter here.

Filed under: Gratitude, Live Your Best Life, Paris — admin @ 3:19 pm

May 11, 2014

Love for all the Mamas!

Wising a very happy Mother’s Day to all moms and mothering people!

Your love, dedication and support of your children and people you nurture makes this world a better place!

moms day

Filed under: Gratitude, Holidays, Love, Parenting — admin @ 8:54 am

April 30, 2014

Gratitude is a choice

gratitude

Recently I was talking with a friend about gratitude. She asked about finding the things to be grateful for. She talked about how hard things have been and how it’s often easier to focus on that.

I get that.

I know how consuming the hard and the bad can be. I know how unfair things can feel. I know grief and anger and discomfort.

We talked about journaling and how easy it is to fill our pages with the yucky stuff. And then I said to her, “And at the end of the day, I can always find something for which I am grateful.”

And then I went home and thing after thing kept going “wrong.” I was cutting something for my daughter and accidentlaly cut my favorite sweater. I dropped things. I waited too long to reserve a specific apartment in Paris and lost it to someone else. My daughter woke up at 4:45am and decided she was ready to start her day. Yeah. So where was my gratitude then???

The truth is I still could have found gratitude. There were still plenty of wonderful amazing things in my life…all my basic needs were being met…I still loved my work and my family and my friend and my city. And at the same time, I figured it was OK to be frustrated and bummed and tired and overwhelmed. In that moment I didn’t want to feel grateful.

Gratitude is a choice. It is something that I choose often because I usually feel good when I do…but I also think it’s OK to feel all of the other things in your life too. I’ve written about feeling multiple emotions at once…if we only look at the good we might miss something important…if we only focus on the bad the same thing happens. If we take everything for granted we are missing out and if we are grateful at the expense of truly feeling our feelings that is problematic too.

Gratitude is a choice.

Today I choose to feel grateful for the sunshine, an upcoming trip, a gleeful toddler who no longer wants to hold my hand while she toddles and cherry pie on the patio.

I’m also feeling all of the other things going on in my life…but today it feels easy to choose gratitude.

What will you let yourself choose today?

You might be interested in these similar posts -

Gratitude doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t hard

Living isn’t for the faint of heart

Looking for BIG and missing the little

Filed under: Emotions, Gratitude — admin @ 5:53 pm

March 10, 2014

Giving Up Negativity For Lent!

Inner Critic

Last week my facebook feed was filled with posts about what my friends were giving up for Lent.

  • No more chocolate
  • So long alcohol
  • Goodbye Facebook, see you in 40 days
  • No gluten
  • 40 days off of TV

Many people use this time to let go of something that isn’t serving them, a “bad habit” or a “guilty pleasure.”

I certainly think a break from any of the above things could serve someone. I have taken breaks from different foods or beverages or media or electrotics for different reasons and usually feel energized and refreshed. This year I’m thinking of some less tangible items we can give up.

  • I would love to see people take a break from negative self-talk.
  • I would love to see people give up shame.
  • I would love to see people let go of self-doubt.
  • I would love to see people release critisism.
  • I would love to see people eliminate hate.

And if giving something up doesn’t work for you. Can you add something positive to your life for 40 days? Turn up the volume on self-love. Start a gratitiude practice. Embrace 40 days of kind thoughts, loving actions and positive thinking.

Whether or not you are religious, can you welcome 40 days of less negativity? Give yourself a break from some of the things that don’t serve you!

Filed under: Change, Emotions, Gratitude, Self-love — admin @ 10:46 am

February 5, 2014

Living isn’t for the faint of heart

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

This beautiful traveling altar was sent to me by a wonderful supporter and someone who recognizes when I am "in it."

So many big things are happening. So many of us are IN IT! And sometimes it is hard.

Major changes, challenges, growth opportunities and struggles.

We are starting businesses, ending relationships, raising children, speaking out truths, saying goodbye to people we love, going back to school, struggling to pay our bills, giving up our dreams, grieving, choosing to have a baby, struggling to get pregnant, moving to places where we don’t know a soul, leaving places and people we love, hearing bad news, receiving life altering diagnoses or prognoses and wondering, what is the point of it all?

We are taking risks and sometimes falling and standing again and trying.

We are flourishing.

We are saying yes to love, laughing with our heads thrown back and our mouths wide open, receiving touch and warmth and connection, dancing with our arms out and our hips swaying, making love and calling out our pleasure, loving our bodies and shaking off shame.

And sometimes we aren’t.

Sometimes our heart is breaking. Sometimes we are crying on the bathroom floor. Or sometimes we wish we could be crumpled on the bathroom floor, but there are mouths to feed or floors to wash or other tears that need to be dried. Sometimes we are stuck in shame, unable to be seen or see ourselves, wishing we could just disappear…sometimes forever.

Oh man, this stuff is hard.

Oh man, this life can be hard…and wonderful…and glorious…and hard.

Sometimes the joy is so big we feel guilty. Sometimes we worry that it will all be taken away…there is too much good and when other people are hurting it feels uncomfortable to have too much good. Sometimes we feel like we need to pay for the good or earn the good or even things out a bit. We worry we are undeserving…we don’t enjoy this moment because we think about how awful it will feel when it’s gone.

Living isn’t for the faint of heart.

But what are our choices?

We live and feel it all…the up the down…the high the low…the lovely the miserable…the ecstasy and the brutally hard –- or we shut down, we numb out, we self-medicate, we build walls, we close up, we push away, we turn inside out, we give up.

When you close to pain, you close to joy. When you numb the hurt you numb the bliss. When you avoid heartache, you avoid heart-opening.

It’s a bitter truth, eh?

You have a choice. Neither is easy. Life isn’t easy. And truly living isn’t for the faint of heart.


January 20, 2014

Looking for BIG and missing the Little

Little moments

Last night I was thinking about my Sunday. Nothing special happened, but it was a lovely day. It wasn’t extraordinary or exciting or adventurous. It was LOVELY though. It was quiet and contemplative and also sweet and connecting. It involved coffee with a friend, making my daughter laugh as I danced around with a towel on my wet hair, getting lots of work done while she napped, a clean house, a good phone call with my mom, a quick visit with some friends at a currently unopened bar that is going to be incredible (and the joy of witnessing my friends’ hard work and dedication blossoming), a super yummy cookie and time on the couch with my pugs. The only thing on my calendar was the coffee with my friend. The entire day unfolded around my daughter’s sleep schedule and I only left my house once. A year from now I probably won’t remember this day. I don’t think it was a life defining day. AND it was beautiful. If I was only holding out for life’s “big moments” I may have been disappointed by yesterday. If I was only seeking passion, adventure or excitement; yesterday may not have measured up.

You attention determines what you miss. If you are only looking for the big life changing things…you might miss the small life affirming things.

This can apply to an ordinary day…it can apply to your work…it can apply to your relationship..it can apply to sex.

When it comes to sexual desire, if you are looking for burning loins desire, you might miss a little tickle in your belly. If you are looking for fireworks you might overlook a small spark. If you are only holding out for something big, you might miss a small opportunity (that could growing into something bigger).

Your attention determines what you miss.

If you only focus on your partner’s disappointment, you might miss her love and approval.  If your attention is on your grief, you might not see the joy in your life.  If you are consumed by how hard it is to be single, you might not see that it can also be freeing.

Your attention determines what you miss.

If you notice the small – notice the contentment – notice the little ways your life is lovely – then those things will add up.

If you notice the tickles of desire, the small thoughts about sex, the little flickers of interest or longing – you might not feel like your desire is dead.

Can you breathe in the small moments today? How does that focus shift how you feel about your life right now?

Filed under: Gratitude, Pleasure — admin @ 10:36 am

November 27, 2013

Giving Thanks with Kids

kids and thanks

I write about gratitude often.  It’s no secret I think it can enhance your life and make you feel good.  I’ve written about ways you can practice gratitude on your own or with your partner.  Lately, I’ve been thinking about ways to practice gratitude with your child(ren).

  • Make a list on your wall

Use butcher paper or a chalkboard to record lists or pictures of things for which you are thankful.  You can encourage your children to list things daily or as they feel them.

  • Create a collage

Tear up old magazines, use photos or other images to make a visual representation of your gratitude.  Give the collage a place of honor (you can even pull it out each Thanksgiving as part of your décor).

  • Turn your tablecloth into a gratitude work of art

Use paper and crayons or a tablecloth and paint to let you child express her thanks.  She may use words or drawings or colors to share her feelings.  You can use this tablecloth as the centerpiece for your Thanksgiving meal.

  • Send postcards of thanks

Who doesn’t love sweet notes in the mail?  Take some time to write thank you notes (or “I’m thankful for you” notes) and send them to loved ones.

  • Make a gratitude altar

Set up a space with found objects, things from nature, pictures of loved ones, special stones or crystals, and other items that make you feel thankful.  Encourage your child to add items to the altar and use it as a way to honor and acknowledge the things and people for which he feels thanks.

  • Model saying, “Thank you.”

It’s a small thing.  The more thankful you are and the more you express it, the more your child will learn that behavior.

This time of year is a great “excuse” or reason to start a gratitude practice.  You don’t have to save all your thanks up for November.  Let this be the start of a regular gratitude practice or family rituals.  It’s amazing to hear what inspires other people’s gratitude  (especially our wee ones).  Gratitude begets gratitude.  Let’s start a thankful chain reaction!

Filed under: Family, Gratitude, Holidays — admin @ 1:52 pm

November 20, 2013

Gratitude doesn’t mean pretending things aren’t hard

I’m grateful for my health.

I’m grateful for the sunshine.

I’m grateful that today isn’t quite as hard as yesterday was.

I’m grateful for hope and faith and trust and inner knowing.

November is often a month of gratitude.  You may see your facebook or twitter feed full of things your friends appreciate.  If you are familiar with my facebook page, you know that I also participate.  I love it!  It brings me joy to see the things for which others are thankful.  It also helps focus me; it helps me shine a light on the positive even when things are hard.

Gratitude helps us acknowledge what is working or feels wonderful.  Giving thanks helps us focus on the good.  It doesn’t take away the bad…it just turns down the volume.  Being grateful doesn’t mean you have to ignore the hard or lie about the bad or pretend things are easy.  You can be grateful about something and still be struggling.  You can be thankful and still wish things were different.  Both can be true.  All of it can be true.

You can also be heartbroken, grieving, disappointed and still find something for which you are grateful.  The gratitude doesn’t replace the pain.  It adds gratitude to your perspective.  It may lesson some of the heartbreak and it may not.

Gratitude isn’t being oblivious or Pollyanna or pretending.  It’s not putting a rosy or sunny spin on things.  Gratitude is something that comes from deep within.  It is a form of thanksgiving and if you are “pretending” then you really aren’t practicing it.

I think sometimes gratitude is discredited because people think it’s “blowing smoke” or not truthful. I think some people see other’s gratitude and feel like they aren’t being realistic or they are painting a picture that is “too good.”  I think some people are uncomfortable with the idea of gratitude because they worry it means they have to let go of all other feelings (anger, guilt, sadness, etc).

You can feel what you feel and be grateful.  You can hold space for the gratitude AND the hard.  Both are true and truth is compelling.

gratitude

Today I’m grateful for a “pause” in my busy day, where I can sit and drink my latte and write this blog post.  I’ve also been up the last 3 nights with a sick baby and I’m exhausted.  My heart is heavy because my babe is struggling.  And I’m struggling.  I’m also grateful for support from friends and family, kind words and a gift package left on my porch.

All of it’s true.  It’s not all good.  It’s not all bad.  It’s wonderful and it’s hard.  It’s true.  It’s life.  And I am grateful.

Filed under: Emotions, Gratitude — admin @ 11:18 am

August 22, 2013

Savor Your Happiness

This week I read a post about “Happiness Jars” on Elizabeth Gilbert’s facebook page.

She has been posting pictures of readers’ happiness jars.  She also wrote a “how to” for happiness jars (much of which is geared toward doing what feels best for you).  I created my own happiness jar as soon as I read the post.

I recently wrote about journaling.  I know some people are reluctant to journal because when they do write, they often focus on the negative.  You can choose to journal about happiness.  You can also let your journal be a place that holds it all (happy, sad, or in between, whatever is true for you).  Your journal may end up being filled with your unhappiness.  It’s up to you.

I love the idea of a happiness jar because it has a specific focus.  What made you happy today?  What was your happiest moment? If you read what Gilbert has to say about the happiness jar, you will learn you can create one for a specific time period, or a relationship, or just a general happiness jar.

How wonderful to have a place you can record happy moments you may forget otherwise.  How wonderful to have a ritual that encourages you to notice and record happy moments.  It is so easy to focus on the BIG hardships or the BIG sadness and forget small, happy moments.  And many small happy moments can lead to BIG joy.

I know 2013 has been a tough year for many people.  I also know that we can find some small happy moment each day.  At the end of the year do you want to remember how awful things were?  I want to hold all of it. Yes it was hard.  Sometimes it was sad.  It also held all of the happy moments…all of this beauty…all of this love.

Will you chose to savor your happiness?

happiness jar

Filed under: Change, Gratitude, Ritual, Self-care, Self-love — admin @ 5:03 pm

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