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Post-Thanksgiving but Not Post-Thankful

I hope that you all had a lovely Thanksgiving yesterday.  I enjoyed being with friends who are part of my work family.  We shared each other’s company, good will, and delicious food.  While I ate a little too much, I didn’t stuff.  I also enjoyed a few, satisfied internal chuckles when I compared my plate yesterday with what I used to heap on a plate and devour in the years before weight loss surgery.  It’s all perspective and stomach size that determines what’s too much these days.

Today, I’m engaged in what has become a mini-tradition — the post-Thanksgiving three-day detox.  I follow a plan that I discovered a couple of years ago on Dr. Oz which involves drinking four vegetable-fruit-nut-seed based drinks a day for three days along with some green tea.  The first time I did this detox, I felt really great during and after the three days.  I think the plan gives my body some relief, flushes out some icky stuff and, somehow, resets my metabolism.  Whatever the case, a few days of healthy drinks sure can’t hurt.

We’re closing in on the end of November.  Every day I’ve continued to acknowledge something(s) or someone or several someones for which I am grateful.  Even though it’s after that day of Thanksgiving, I am by no means past the time when I feel thankful.

I’ve known for years that embracing gratitude helps me, but I’ve never truly delved into figuring out why this is so.  I see various self-help leaders promote gratitude, read quotes all over the internet and, still, don’t know why gratitude is so often suggested.

So today I started Googling to see what I could learn.  Overall, the consensus is that gratitude is, indeed, a powerful force.

This blog post here has what I thought were great ideas, and also some useful suggestions.  The fact that it is not from a well-known self-help “guru”, but from someone who is a corporate coach for potential entrepreneurs did not detract from the message.  I particularly like what it says about expanding our focus, turning on our  natural well-being, and allowing ourselves to unconditionally accept and celebrate ourselves.

Then there’s this article by Robert Emmons, who is touted as a leading scientific expert on gratitude.  I’m interested in what he says and plan to look into his books.  This link goes to a site for the Greater Good Science Center, affiliated with the University of Berkeley.   I love that there is something called the Greater Good Science Center and need to poke around on the site some more.  Among other things in the article, Dr. Emmons says, “Gratitude also goes against our need to feel in control of our environment. Sometimes with gratitude you just have to accept life as it is and be grateful for what you have.”

That really resonates with me and connects to an important aspect of my 12 Step program.  In the Serenity Prayer, we ask for the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Serenity starts with acceptance.  It looks like gratitude fosters acceptance, so it stands to reason that it might be a stepping stone to serenity.

There are several more sites and articles, but it sounds like they all have variations on the things I read at these two sites.  I enjoyed taking the information in, absorbing it and pondering what it means to me, how it feels, and what I can take away from it and use in my own life’s journey.

Along the way, I started thinking of the optimist-pessimist description of whether one sees a glass as half-full or half-empty.  For the most part, I think of myself as an optimist, but sometimes life throws challenges and painful situations at even the most optimistic of us.  Those times are the ones when I know I most need to dig down and connect with my gratitude.  At those moments it doesn’t matter whether the glass is half-full or half-empty.  I need to be thankful that I have a glass at all.

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Happy Thanksgiving!

For the month of November, I’ve made a point of recognizing and claiming something, or someone, or multiple things or persons, for which I am grateful.  Embracing gratitude each day grounds me in the wonderfulness of today and expands my heart.  Even if I’m experiencing other, more negative things – like stress or upset or whatever – I can still look inside and connect with thankfulness.  This practice enhances my life.

I am a fortunate woman.  I have much for which to give thanks, not just today, but every day.  I never want to forget this or take it for granted.  Claiming and publicly acknowledging my gratitude might only happen in November, but every day when I wake up I acknowledge it to myself and to my Higher Power.  Again, it helps.

I’m celebrating Thanksgiving today with my work family at the home of friends.  I’m putting together an antipasto platter and making some mini jalapeno souffles for appetizers.  It’s expected to be quite the gathering.  We’ll enjoy good food and good company.  Hopefully later in the day, I’ll also enjoy a good football game.  (Watching, not playing.  Go, Eagles!)

For now, I want to acknowledge my gratitude for all of you reading this blog.  I am thankful for your presence and energy, for the comments you make, and also for the silent support.  You enhance this journey and I am thankful.

Wishing you all a spectacular day!


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Pheeling All Pharrell

I’m experiencing an abundance of happiness.  I seriously could dance around the room like a Pharrell Williams video, singing his mega-hit song.

Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like a room without a roof
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you know what happiness is to you
Because I’m happy
Clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do

I plan to revel in this lightness of being all weekend long and into next week.  Joy needs to be appreciated, shared, and, whenever possible, expanded.  If you’re into being a curmudgeon or grump, you might want to avoid my company for a few days.

Truthfully, I don’t have one solid reason for feeling this way today.  It’s more like a combination of things, or perhaps a culmination.  Remember a few posts back when I talked about the beautiful meme?  In case you didn’t read it, to summarize, the meme suggested that we start each morning with the thought that it’s going to be a beautiful day.  At some point, we should stop and say, “It is a beautiful day.”  Then, before going to sleep at night, we need to look back and claim, “It was a beautiful day.”  If we do that, and store up those beautiful days, down the road we’ll be able to look back and know that we had a beautiful life.

I’ve followed that meme’s suggestions every day.  This practice has imbued me with at least some moments of peace, serenity and gratitude, whenever I pause for the beautiful acknowledgements.  I’ve also taken time to appreciate the good things that occurred — big or small.  The knee treatment plan, good phone calls with family and friends, completing some important projects at work, a better-than-expected report at the dentist,  taking a long bike ride, preparing and enjoying delicious food, even the successful dyeing of a shirt and bra (fuschia!) for the upcoming 5 K Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk.  Another happy moment – exceeding my personal fundraising goal for the event!  I made plans today to spend time with friends that I haven’t seen in at least 15 years when I travel up to Jersey later this month.  Fun!

It’s like one good thing just led to another and then another until I had a cascade of happy pouring into my heart and out through my smile.

Yeah, that sounds sappy, but I don’t care.  I’m going to ride the wave and keep enjoying the feeling.

Honestly, I run into a fair number of people who thrive on complaining and appear to latch onto misery and upset.  I choose to not focus on the negatives.  I’d rather attract positive stuff.

So, picture me dancing around and acting like I’m a room without a roof.

Because I’m happy.

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Positively Healthy

I started to write a blog post about this topic last night but I was so tired, that my brain began to shut down. I’d look at a sentence I’d just typed and it was disjointed nonsense. This was a good sign that I needed to shut myself down and go to bed. Much better to start on the topic again today.

All month long, I’ve thought about things that I’m grateful for, and there are a lot of them. Today I’m musing about how good it’s been for me to pay attention to this things, to let myself really feel them and also to take the time to acknowledge them. Just like it has helped me recently to say the words out loud that I choose recovery each day, the daily expressions of gratitude are good for me.

I believe that this fosters a positive attitude. Often the bad things that happen, or the situations that upset us, clamor more loudly for attention. They stay more in the forefront. Dwelling in the negative brings us down mentally, emotionally and, I think, physically. I’d rather live in the house of happy.

It’s good to reinforce a positive attitude and approach. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with being a cheerleader for ourselves in our own lives. We can set our intention and speak our choices aloud. Will there be days that the best intention of maintaining a positive attitude isn’t strong enough to withstand some crap that might get flung in our general direction? Sure. This is life, after all, which is far from always perfect. However, if we start out by trying to boost the positive, we have a better shot at staying ahead of, or being strong than, the negative.

I know for a fact that if I wake up thinking that the day is going to suck, I’ve set myself up for self-fulfilling prophecy. I’d rather concentrate on manifesting good and let that be the self-fulfilling path for the day. This approach makes me stronger and happier. It leads to greater success with my food plan and exercise commitment, helps me rock my job and other commitments. I’m sure it makes me a better friend and family member and overall just a more pleasant person to be around.

All in all, I feel positively healthy and you can bet I’m grateful for that every single day.


First World Problems

For the last couple of Novembers, I’ve joined in on an effort on Facebook to do 30 days of gratitude. I posted about it here on November 2nd last year. A couple of days ago, two young women with whom I’m friends (Yes, Hope, your twin sisters.) dedicated October to posting about first world problems. I was a little slow on the uptake at first, but then I got it. Lots of things that we react to as problems, living here in America, are really not a big deal when you compare us to people who live in third world countries deal with or don’t have. While I’m not by nature a big complainer, sometimes I do start to feel a little “set upon”, cranky, or put out. If I’m going to be completely honest, some of the things that put me in those moods are pretty darned insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

Attitudinally, I can do better than let myself mire in the muck of dissatisfaction. I honestly try to cultivate gratitude as much as possible. I think it’s a graceful state of being, not just in November, but year round.

Going back to the first world problem thing, have you ever looked at a full closet or in a drawer and had trouble choosing something to put on fo the day? That was me this morning. So, my first world problem for the day could be, “So many clothes I can’t decide which to wear.” That’s only a problem in first world countries. In third world countries, many people have only rags to clothe themselves.

Relating to me and my eating disorder struggles: “Food is all around me! It’s so hard to stay on track.” When millions of people are starving in the world, I have a lot of nerve wigging out because I have too many choices. Seriously, Mary. Suck it up. The problem isn’t too many choices. The problem is choosing to eat too many times.

Complaining again about eating right and exercising but the weight not dropping off? For today, I’m even going to think about that being a first world problem. There are countries where the path to good health is not accessible to everyone. At least I always have the ability to eat good, nutritious food and work on my physical fitness to improve my health and well-being. In third world countries, there are many people for whom every minute of the day is a struggle simply to stay alive.

I don’t know if I’m going to join Christina and Allison in posting daily, but I’m grateful they started the exercise and post it on their pages. They’ve made me think.