Truly SEE what is wonderful

IMG_3693I have this sweet, old, aging dog who has lost his hearing and is losing his sight. He follows me around with his last sense of smell and a dim shadow that I know he catches once in awhile. It makes my heart break, but it also makes me see how grateful I am to still have him in my life. Each morning me and my dog Buddy, I call him my “Soul Buddy” stretch together in the downward dog yoga position at the top of my stairs. I gently touch his paw and he begins the stretch. It is a small, loving connection that we still have this loving bond. As I watch him maneuver the house I struggle to see him trip over an object that may not usually be in his natural path. I observe him barking even louder because his hearing is so faint. It is like he feels he is not being heard, so he needs to bark louder to ensure his voice. Although many things have changed for him, he still is able to find a warm sun spot, he still nuzzles his nose under my arm for a hug, he still does his very best to follow me & be my faithful companion & best friend.

As I watch him I am even more grateful for my own sight, my ability to see the details all around me. I watch him and admire his never ending, unconditional love for someone. I see his willing heart yearn to keep up when we go on a walk, even though his body is tired and ready to turn back. I see him sleep because he needs his rest.

What do I learn and see every day from my little Buddy…

Even though his life may be a struggle, he continues on, he does his best to keep up when things are tough, he loves without limits, he ventures outside & smells everything (because that is all he can do), he gives everything he has and then only asks… for a little love and a little rest.

Are you doing your best? Are you trying to SEE what is wonderful in your own life?? Are you pushing through the struggles? Are you venturing outside and smelling the roses, or taking in the beauty of a sunset? Are you loving those around you? Are you giving something of yourself? Are you doing a little better than yesterday? When you begin to truly SEE the wonderful things in your life, your life will begin to BE wonderful.

-Peace to you and my little Soul Buddy. xoxo

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Be eternally grateful for those you LOVE

Last week I was texting everyone I know asking them to pray for my husband, their brother, friend, family…I was worried because my husband never gets sick, let alone, takes 3 days off work in a two week period. Something was wrong!! We had two sets of full blood work, two different doctors visit and an ultra sound. I have been worried at different points, but I was deeply worried and found myself crying and praying like crazy that my world would not be shaken in such a way.

We found out it was a painful pancreatitis attack, but after a week he was feeling like himself again. We both sat down  with our daughter and gave many prayers of thanks with an eternally grateful heart. I asked my husband if there was a point when he was really worried & he explained when he was walking into the hospital, he began to wonder if he would be walking through those doors on numerous occasions. It made me so grateful that the outcome was not worse.

Tough experiences, hard days, are those times when you really see things a little more clearly. You don’t take for granted the opportunity to talk on the phone with your best friend, to tell them things, to share everything. The experience definitely made me see how easy life could be taken & how quickly everything can change. It made me even more aware of how important he is in my life.

 

miss-you-so-much-jpgSTOP right this minute and try to imagine someone you would miss whole heartedly if they were gone—a best friend, a spouse, a parent, a sibling, a child…imagine they were taken from you & you could not even pick up the phone to call them. How do you feel? I hope you felt something & wanted to say something to them. Call them right now. Write a note of love or thanks or gratitude to have them in your life.  Give them a big hug & tell them how much they mean to you.

 

 

img-thingAsk yourself—what would I miss about…& express your feelings to those you love and appreciate. Will you miss the perfume they wear, their smile that warms the room, the way they bake your favorite cookies, your long talks, their laugh, the way you feel when they are around, their whistle, the shoes they wear, the way they wear their hair, the memories you share, the laughter you enjoy together, the favorite trips together, singing in the car, the stories they tell… Life is too short to not take the time to share how you feel. It will be a win for everyone!!

 

heart-shape“Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.”  -John Milton

Now, within your heart, give a prayer of eternal gratitude that you have these beautiful people you cherish in your life. People are taken or become ill every day. Those you hold dear are within your reach, so reach out and let them know you love and appreciate them.

Peace to you. Sending you blessed wishes for you and those you love.

 

 

The ‘Golden Lists’

ImageFor Mother’s Day I took the day and spent the entire day lounging with my little family. It was the best Mother’s Day yet!! There is something in gifting yourself a day, not feeling pulled or manipulated into having to be somewhere else. I wasn’t selfish about it, I just gifted my husband’s mom an earlier Mother’s Day dinner and figured I see my mom every day (since she lives with us), so I decided to take the day and do nothing but be with my two favorite people. It was priceless, reading sweet letters they wrote me, enjoying meals together and then just popping in a few good movies that we thought would be enjoyable. It was a touch of relaxation and togetherness that we all needed.

One of the movies we enjoyed was called, The Ultimate Life. My favorite part—‘The Golden List’– I loved seeing a man wave his finger in the air as if writing a letter to God, thanking him for at least 10 things from the day!! Sure, we have all heard over and over about the gift of gratitude, but you can never hear it enough. I find that when I am not keeping a gratitude journal or golden list—my life definitely shifts and things are tougher. There is a key in having an attitude of gratitude, so ‘the golden list’ was a good twist.

 

ImageTO SEE: This especially rang true when I heard the following story that was shared by my sister. My sister has been going through a divorce & it has been tough on her whole family, so she was humbled by the following experience. My sister works in an eye clinic & a women came in for a scheduled appointment, she was about my sisters age (34) and as they sat and chatted in the waiting room my sister realized that this woman too was divorced and had a son that she was raising. They talked about the challenges of going through divorce, especially with children, but my sister was struck with a grateful heart when she heard this woman’s son was autistic. My sister couldn’t even fathom how it would be to raise a child with autism and be divorced. My sister was grateful to have two healthy kids. My sister watched the woman go in for her appointment and wondered why she was in their office. Most of the people who visit the eye clinic are in for cataracts, meds for vision problems because of old age, etc. but this was a young woman.

Further into the visit my sister sat in on part of the woman’s visit as the doctor told this woman she would never be able to drive again. The woman had a vision disorder that took over most of her eyes, so it would be like having two nickels covering your eyes and you could only see slightly from your peripheral vision. My sister’s heart sank again for this woman. How could she raise a child, especially an autistic child and not be able to see or drive.

As my sister shared this story, everyone’s heart broke a little at the thought of how this woman would be able to handle such a trauma. It made us all realize how blessed we are & it was a definite item on our ‘golden list’ before bed last night…”the gift of sight’

 

 

ImageTO RIDE: This is a personal story that happened last week while I was bike riding with my eleven year old daughter. My daughter struggles sometimes with gratitude, so I find myself on occasion sharing stories, insight, life lessons, hoping they will sink in eventually. While we were biking my daughter started to get mad, frustrated and started yelling, “this is so stupid. I hate this!” I have a really hard time with negativity and poor attitudes, so I chimed her on, “You can do this, we are more than half way. You are doing great.” She continued with the complaints, so while we were riding I shared with her a story of a close family friend. This is what I told her..”Kate, you need to focus on being grateful that you can even ride your bike, that you have strong legs to bike and dance and walk…we had a guy we knew who was struck with an illness and was going to loose one of his legs and you know what happened?” Kate begin to wonder, “what?” she inquired solemnly. “He decided if he was going to loose his leg that he was going to enjoy his last ride & biked all the way to the hospital where they were going to amputate it. He knew that would be his last ride with both of his legs. Can you imagine how he felt? I want you to bike and feel your strong body and be grateful that you can ride, that this is not your last.” She was quiet the whole rest of the way home.

 

ImageWhat a humbling thought. We take so much for granted, even just being able to walk, to see, to hear, to taste yummy food, to be free…free to pray, free to read any book, free to your own opinion. We are given so many gifts each day and we fail to miss them if we don’t take the time to look around, to truly take in the gifts, to get grateful and make a special ‘golden list.’

What will be on your golden list for today?

Are you going to look at your fingers differently & admire how they can type, mold bread dough, hold your child’s little hands, turn the key in your car, plant flowers, feel textures.

Are you going to look at what you see differently…are you going to enter a shopping store through the garden center to see the beautiful details, are you going to walk through your yard and look deeply at the colors, are you going to take the time to see the stars or a sunset or just gaze into someone’s eyes that you love.

Are you going to look at moving your body differently…are you going to stop putting off that bike ride or go on a walk at lunch, what about walking to work or the grocery store, what about that exercise class you have been putting off because you will feel silly—move before it gets harder, don’t take movement for granted, get out and take your kids on a walk or run, appreciate all the details within that lift your arm, that signal your brain to look left or right, the nerves that are so tiny, but make up a huge system that makes you move. Your body is a miracle.

Are you going to look at what you hear differently…don’t curse the morning bird song, listen and enjoy, when your baby cries be grateful she is breathing, listen to beautiful music that soothes your soul, appreciate the artists that were inspired to create such a gift for you to hear, listen to the waves crash, when it rains stop and listen to the patter on the roof, turn the television off and just listen to the silence, listen to the leaves move within the trees branches…

There are so many things to think about: the food we taste and enjoy, having running water, food in abundance, nature, learning and growth, laughter, inspired people, television shows that inspire good things, the quick access of so much information on the internet (there are so many good things–dont focus on the bad stuff :), new experiences, places to always aspire to go, life lists, people we haven’t met yet, lifelong friends, memories, beauty, sunlight, moonlight, animals, health, home, family, so many things…what will yours include? TODAY.

Hope this post gets you thinking about how you are blessed and gifted with so many golden promises.

Peace to you. -Heather

 

Think about it!!

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WOW!! I just found the above quote and it made me truly think and say WOW!! Think about it. What were you truly grateful for yesterday…today…tomorrow. We definitely take a lot for granted and this thought stopped me in my tracks. My mind began to race thinking about my prayers from yesterday, how I didn’t include my dog & how different my day would be right this minute.

Think about it!! Did you Thank God for your family, the love you share, your warm home, your healthy bodies, the car you drive, the plethora of food we can pick out at our grocery stores, the clothes that warm our bodies on a cold night, the heat that runs through our homes, the water that effortlessly comes when we ask, to be able to see our children smile, to hear the love of our life laugh, to smell the fresh air of fall…there are endless things that we take for granted. This quote was a good aha moment for me. I definitely will be going deeper with my thanks and gratitude today. How about you??

I wanted to add some additional images and thoughts to make you think about this beautiful season of gratitude.

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ImageThis was another aha quote for me. This is so true. Think about all the things we take for granted—when your husband holds your hand or opens the car door for you, the love he has when he looks into your eyes, the hug from your child, the warm shower you enjoy every morning, the amazing technology that is boundless and available, the people who lift and love you, having your family close, enjoying a bottle of clean water, turning on light, etc.

My husband went to visit a friend who lives with his family on a 200,000 acre cattle ranch, in the middle of Wyoming. They invited them into their home that was warmed only by firewood. The home they lived in was over 200 years old, they lived off the land—every bit of it. My husband mentioned to me how hard it would be to be dusty and dirty all the time, to work so hard from morning to night. We both sat grateful for our heated home, our running water, to be clean from a warm shower…

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 I hope we are always mindful of this thought. It is so easy to take for granted or abuse those we love. The other day my daughter was having a bit of attitude & not being very nice to me. When her Dad asked her why she was being so mean to me, she said, “because Mom is always there & I was just feeling stressed.”  Remember to be kind to those who are your family. LOVE, it is a blessing.

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This made me think of the thousands of people in the Philippines and the desperation of how tragedy affects so many. It makes me mindful of praying for those in need all around the world. We have no idea how blessed we are. We take it for granted.

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 This really reminds me of the beautiful saying in the movie Shall we Dance…We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet… I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things… all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness’.”  Those who journey with you.

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 There are definitely moments where you feel so alone & I have always been truly grateful to look to the heavens and pray for guidance, direction, peace. Being able to pray, you are never alone.

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Happy month of gratitude and giving thanks.

Ways to get a Little more GRATITUDE, with a little less GIMME

Next week is the beginning of the beautiful holiday seasons, a time when families gather, friends enjoy one another and there is a special feeling in the air. The holidays are always a very special, magical time in our home and I am always looking for ways to bring in a little more peace, a little more giving, a little more gratitude to avoid the “gimme” attitude.

I wanted to share some thoughts and ideas to get you thinking of some things you can do to bring your family a little closer this holiday season.

To find a little more Gratitude and Thanks this Thanksgiving:

ImageLegacy Letters: Have each member of your family write a nice letter to one another & gift it to them for Thanksgiving or keep it until Christmas. My parents usually have each child create a scrapbook page of history from the year full of images and highlights from a few of their favorite memories throughout the year as a gift to them.

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Family time capsule: My sister-in-law just did a time capsule for her one-year-old, so this idea could be used on a variety of occasions. You could have everyone bring something that was impressionable from the past year–news this year, a picture of their family, a piece of jewelry that holds charms symbolic of each member, favorite stuffed animal or toy, letters, a magazine, something that would tie this year together & mean something to each individual. You could do this as individual families or with extended family. Make sure to include a list of questions like “What was your favorite thing that happened this year?” “What wishes do you have for next year”  “What is a meaningful memory you have from this past year”…

ImageFun Random Acts of Kindness Kit: this looks like a lot of fun. I found it on uncommon goods.com but you can buy it on amazon or other retailers.

ImageGIve said the little stream: I don’t know why I always think of this childhood song when I think about giving. Just last year I came across the actual book that shares this beautiful song.

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I was then looking for a inspiring video of this song and came across a beautifully done version in Korea. I wanted to add it here because it was done during a time of turmoil and war–to me it has a loving, peaceful message. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMNSChEydSo  Help us pray for peace always. Help us give peace and love freely.

GIVE: GIve to feel peaceful. Give to get healthy. Give to spread love. Give because it helps you feel GOoD (helps you feel GOD).  Here are some ideas to get your giving: Donate clothes. This is a great time to go through the closets and get rid of summer clothing, old shoes and coats that don’t fit any longer. Give warmth! Help someone. Do you have elderly neighbors that need leaves raked or may need a warm blanket with a side of hot cocoa mix. Make a snuggle care package for someone in need. Put together a pair of warm socks, gloves, water bottle, granola bar & a message of hope. You could also buy a few sleepingbags and donate them to a local organization or someone on the street. Help out a single mom. My sister is in the middle of a divorce & she is always in need of a break. Reach out to someone near you that is a single parent and offer them a break. Bake something for your local awesomeness. We love firefighters and police men who take care of our neighborhoods, so we enjoy baking up something and taking it into the dept. for everyone to enjoy. Make someone smile. You could just smile–that is always a good thing. But you could also have your kids draw a smiley face on a piece of paper and leave them on random cars. Create a crunch pack for college kids. My two nieces just moved to the area and are starving students, so they loved and appreciated the small snack pack I gave them. Find out from the dorm office or school if there are some kids in need & leave them a bag of snacks to help them get by. Get Artistic. Have your kids create works of art to donate to the elderly homes. Think of how much they will love the decorative trees and christmas scenes your kids will create.

Here is a good link to some additional ideas that are GREAT to get your family serving for specific organizations. Great info. http://www.newdream.org/blog/fun-holiday-service-projects-for-you-and-your-family

ImageGratitude rolls: I do love this idea. I am doing it this year!! We can never be too thankful for food and sweet wishes of thanks. Here are a few links for different directions and recipes: Enjoy  Dinner Rolls  http://www.howdoesshe.com/delicious-dinner-rolls/       Sweet Potato Rolls http://www.lifewiththecrustcutoff.com/sweet-potato-gratitude-rolls/

ImageFood: Food is always something that brings family together, so pull out some yummy recipes and get your family cooking together. Find recipes online and begin to dabble with your own culinary artist within!! Try new things and make it an occasion. It can be a Monday night “Mom & kids stir up something good night” or a  Tuesday “Try something new night”…it doesnt have to be JUST Thanksgiving. Make any meal an occasion just being together. I have been working harder on this area—because I am NOT a cook, but I am trying to make it a cooking adventure!! and I have been including my little girl in on the fun. Whether it is one night a week or seven–make it special!! It has been proven that sitting down for a family meal helps families, and especially helps our children.  Here are ten benefits from webmd of having family dinners: Everyone eats healthier meals, Kids are less likely to become overweight, Kids are more likely to stay away from cigarettes, drink alcohol, use drugs or try marijuana, School grades will be better, You & your kids will talk more, You will be more likely to hear about any serious problems, Kids will feel like you are proud of them and there will be less stress and tension at home.      *picture is Banana Bread pudding—just sounds yummy!! here is the linkhttp://3boysandadog.com/2012/11/banana-bread-pudding-thanksgiving-recipe/

Well, that is all for today. I will keep posting some more ideas to help us with gratitude and not gimme attitudes.

Happiness to you today.  -Heather

Give the gift of gratitude

Imagine…One evening you gather your family around the dinner table and celebrate life with a little cake. Not just any cake, a gratitude cake.

This cake is going to help your family remember the wonderful things within your lives. You will put the cake in the center of the table and light a candle in the middle of the cake. As the candle burns everyone will take a turn sharing something they are grateful for within their life…a highlight from the day, friends they appreciate, stories of kindness, little things they love, moments with family, etc. Then after everyone has shared in the gift of gratitude, the candle has melted down and the wick is out, end with a little piece of cake.

This will be a beautiful gift to bring your family together. Enjoy your time together.

Give Thanks during the month of thanksgiving.