Gratitude

gratitude

One of the many things my mother taught me was the importance of being polite.  Saying “Please”, “Thank you”, “You’re Welcome”, giving someone a sincere apology and many more.  Common courtesy went hand in hand with proper etiquette.  Treating others as you would like to be treated….the Golden Rule.  Yes!  Showing respect for others and their belongings; handle anything loaned to you as if it were your own.  Great values, yes.  I do my best to adhere to these every day.

Something I have come to realize is equally, if not more important than all of that is Gratitude.  Being grateful for the gifts and blessings I have received throughout my life.  The key, I have found, is to be grateful every day and literally giving daily thanks.  I’ll explain why.

Since last December, when my mammogram showed an abnormality (you can read about that by clicking on this link), I learned so many valuable lessons during the 8 days while I waited to find out what was happening inside my body.  One of the most important of those lessons was to express my gratitude for the gifts I have received.  And on December 7, 2012, I received the news that everything was fine.  My gratitude for that news went beyond anything I had ever experienced.  Immense joy flooded every fiber of my being, unlike anything I had ever felt.  And I find even more gifts and blessings have been bestowed on me as what I know and believe to be a direct result of expressing my appreciation for all that I have received.

Every day since then, when I wake up in the morning, I say “thank you” for another day of life.  I express my gratitude for what the day may hold.

This year I’m reading the Simple Abundance again, but with new eyes and new understanding.  The author,  Sarah Ban Breathnach, recommends keeping a Gratitude Journal in which you write down five things at the end of every day for which you are grateful.  It can be anything.  Just five things that happened during your day that you are thankful for.  She says this is one of the ways that the Simple Abundance path will work for you.  If you want to find out more about living an abundant life, I highly recommend Sarah’s book as a starting point.

You would think that coming up with five things on any particular day would be easy.  Most days it is, but I do find, from time to time that I get stuck on number five.  However, I always come up with my five and go to sleep with a certain amount of contentment and well being, because of all the good things in my life.  Yesterday, one of my top five was seeing the elk herd early in the morning.  The occasional glimpse of that herd is very special for me and I’m always grateful to see them.

I can tell you that keeping a Gratitude Journal works.  It helps to keep my mind on track, finding importance in the simplest of things.  But you know what else?  I’ll let you in on something I’ve discovered that I think is even more important.  Giving thanks, being grateful, opens up a wealth of gifts and blessings in your life that you could not imagine are possible.   I have found I receive so much in return by the simple act of acknowledging my appreciation daily.  It opens your heart to the rewards of giving your friendship and love to others.  Happiness is infectious and contagious.  I assure you all of it is a direct result of gratitude.  The more you give, the more you receive.   Those pleasant unexpected moments happen more frequently.  Just saying thanks in the morning and the evening (the first thing you do when you rise, the last thing you do before you go to sleep), you will be rewarded with more joy and love in return than you can imagine.

I’m not kidding.  It’s all true.  I know it because I’ve experienced it and I live it every day.  Just in case you doubt any of this, give it a try, see what happens, it doesn’t cost you anything to try….I think you will be more than pleasantly surprised by the results.

Namaste.

Do the seasons affect/inspire you? In what way?

This month’s topic for the Blog-o-Sphere Think Tank is: “Do the seasons affect/inspire you? In what way?

Well, I consider myself a geek by day, artist/writer by night.  As I considered this question, I thought…..in all honesty, no, the seasons don’t have any affect on inspiring me….at least none that I’m aware of.

I find that I welcome and look forward to the seasonal changes.  It’s hard for me to pick a favorite season because as each one matures, I find myself enjoying certain aspects of it.

AspenLeaves

Spring.  Symbolizes rebirth, new growth.  I’m always looking forward to growing and changing.  I love to challenge myself by trying new things.  Recently I started a new series in my jewelry work called Express Yourself.  The primary focus of this series has been earrings that are a collage of all types of items.

brassAspenLeaf

However, I decided that each earring set would have an Aspen leaf as one of the components.  The aspens, in our backyard, provided the samples of baby leaves from the branches I pruned last spring.  The new growth providing growth in my work.

MyTorch

Summer.  Warmth, heat, maturity.  I’m really not a fan of the heat.  However, one of the most important tools I use as I create my art jewelry is my torch!  When I first started to work with metal, I quickly discovered how integral torch work was to the works I create.  I matured in my understanding and growth about the medium of metal and could not do what I do without my trusty torch.

FallLeaves

Fall.  Crispness coupled with slight cooling signaling a change is in the air.  The beauty of the leaves changing has always created a sense of awe for me.  In 9th grade science class we learned about chlorophyll and the science of what takes place as the trees prepare for winter.  Many things affect the colors of the leaves as they change into the beautiful warm spectrum that tells us fall is here; tree species, amount of moisture during the summer season, the first frost. I do find it magical and have taken many samples, along with photos, to preserve some of what that season offered.  Sometimes I incorporate these into my designs.  Mainly I want them as a point of reference for future works.

WinterScene

Winter.  Cold, white, quiet.  A time to hibernate and reflect.  I don’t think I every really slow down as much as I would like to during this season.  Holidays tend to cause a flurry of activity (pardon the pun).  Decorating the house, taking down the decorations, preparing a holiday feast either large or small, buying presents, lots of preparations.

Sunset

So you see, I can’t really pinpoint that any one season influences me.  I think they all do in their subtle and not so subtle ways.  After writing all of this, I think it is LIFE, with its ups and downs, the changing seasons, the joys and woes, music, my spirit in tune with the Universe….all of that inspires me.

Now lets see what my fellow Think Tank members have to share on this topic:

Andes Cruz: http://www.andescruz.wordpress.com
Natsuko Hanks: http://jewelrybynatsuko.blogspot.com
Robyn Hawk: http://flyviewsandreviews.blogspot.com
Shelagh Blatz: http://www.designsbyshelagh.com/blog
pencilfox www.pencilfox.com

Namaste

Believe….in yourself

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Oz The Great and Powerful

Yesterday, Dan & I went to see Disney’s movie, Oz The Great and Powerful.  Ever since we saw the trailer sometime in 2012, we knew it was a movie we would see in the theater rather than waiting for the DVD.  A good friend had seen it on its opening weekend and said that not only was it a great movie, it had some wonderful life lessons, which intrigued me even more.

As we settled into our seats, we saw more and more families arriving with children of all ages.  Of course, that made perfect sense because not only was this a family movie, the original Wizard of Oz with Judy Garland had been a childhood staple for as many generations of children as I can remember.

The required reminders to turn off your cell phones began, followed by previews of coming attractions….Iron Man 3 and Star Trek look pretty darn spectacular by the way….and the movie started.  3D glasses in place we were prepared to be transported to the wonderful world of Disney make believe….and we were.

As the story unfolded, the life lessons became readily apparent.  Believe.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in others.  The classic tale of good vs. evil.  Oz was not even fully aware of the goodness that was in the very core and essence of him because of the life he had been leading as a con man.  Some of his more memorable quotes were:

  • “I don’t want to die, I haven’t accomplished anything yet.”
  • “I don’t want to be a good man, I want to be a great man.”

Yet, he discovered, through belief…faith, that he was more than anyone thought, he was a good man and he did great things.  Glinda had it right …. “You are capable of more than you know…”   That is so true.  It is so important to know and understand that about yourself, you are capable of more than you know.

I think many of us struggle with knowing who we are, what we are meant to be and do, how we want to live our lives.  All we have to do is ask.  Say that prayer.  Ask for that guidance and believe.  Believe that each of us is capable of more than we know.  I have read that we only use 10% of what our brains are capable of doing.  Imagine what we could do, what we could accomplish if we just flexed our brains a bit more and stretched even 1% beyond what we are already doing.  The results would be marvelous.

Oz went beyond that 1%.  The light came on and he knew he could use the talents he had for good.  He could help others.  There weren’t any thoughts about what benefits he might derive so he went out on a limb.  He went beyond his comfort zone and with the help of others, he accomplished something so good, so wonderful that people’s lives were forever changed…including his.

I firmly believe each of us can do this in our own way.  Sure it’s scary.  Yes we feel uncomfortable as we start doing something new and different.  But you know the end results can be spectacular…like fireworks, the stars at night and a radiant sunset.

If I may be so bold, I am willing to challenge myself to believe more in me, what I can do if I just ask and I would like to challenge you to do the same.   I would venture the benefits for each of us, our families and our friends will be well worth the effort.

Oh yes, and while you are at it, treat yourself and others you know to seeing Disney’s Oz The Great and Powerful….  I would be willing to bet you will walk away with more than just a nice time at the movies.

Namaste.