Category Archives: Gratitude

On the Practice of Gratitude

Gratitude isn’t a feeling, it’s a practice. This is a very important distinction, because we often confuse the practice of gratitude with “feeling grateful“. We can feel grateful for that awesome promotion, or the date that went extremely well, or our super cool friends. But feeling grateful for cool things that happen to us isn’t “gratitude.” That’s basically just an emotional response to experiencing cool things. It didn’t take any personal effort or acknowledgement on your part, you just got happy because something went your way. In other words, you felt happy. Not grateful. Happy. Big difference.

The practice of gratitude is like any practice. Take physical exercise as an example: the more you do it, the stronger you get, and the more results you will start to see in your professional and personal life on so many levels (physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological, financial… you name it.)

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The problem with thinking that gratitude is a feeling is that, unfortunately, when things aren’t going so well, we don’t “feel” like being grateful. Have you ever felt super crappy and down in the dumps and compelled to express gratitude? Probably not. Your partner left you, the car broke down,  finances are low, the kids are fighting, you’ve had a long day at work, got criticized by a colleague, and when all you want to do is go home and relax, now you’re stuck in heavy traffic. What are all these people doing on MY road!? It may seem counter-intuitive, but this is the perfect time to practice gratitude.

The key word here is practice. In the beginning, it takes some serious creativity, focus, and effort. But anything worth anything takes a little effort. When all looks grey and gloomy, it’s really hard to find the silver lining. Fortunately, practicing gratitude isn’t about finding any silver lining, and it’s not about being overly optimistic. Practicing gratitude is basically the practice of looking beyond the crappy stuff.

**IMPORTANT NOTE: “looking beyond crappy stuff” is NOT the same as “overlooking the crappy stuff,” but simply changing your viewpoint (and sometimes attitude) about it.

There are many ways to practice gratitude, and some can be very easy. For example, today I woke up breathing. Some people weren’t afforded that opportunity… Thank you for another day. Given how I treated my kids last night in my moment of exhaustion, I don’t feel deserving of another day…

I woke up in a country that is not in the middle of bombings and war- in fact, it was silent with the peaceful sound of running water from a fountain outside my window and birds chirping as they bathed in it. My kids are healthy, I am healthy, I have a job, money, food, a car, and iPhone… What if I didn’t have these things?

My 42 year-OLD (yeah, I highlighted that last word) husband left me for a life of prostitutes, alcohol and gambling addictions. My childhood was full of abuse and neglect. I could focus on that… I could spend countless amounts of my precious energy being angry, sad, bitter and resentful for all the people and things that failed to meet my expectations… It really is just a matter of perception. I can’t deny it hurt a lot to go through all of that, and the grieving process was (and still is) a big part of my life. But in spite of all of that- no, BECAUSE of all of that, I am where I am right now. Strong, beautiful, empowered, resilient and with my heart left open and soft. Not hardened and shut down. It could have been SO much worse… but it isn’t.

In practicing gratitude, it’s easier to start with the stuff that we like, or the things that are going well in our life. Making it a daily habit of acknowledging and being grateful for the cool things that are going well for us, we slowly lose our focus on the things that aren’t going so well, and as if by miracle, MORE awesome things start to happen and appear in our lives. And as more awesome things start to happen, the less we are pulled toward or feel a need to waste our precious energy obsessing about the not-so-awesome things (which are almost always completely out of our control. Side note: if they were in your control you shouldn’t be complaining about them but rather doing something about it).

I got side-tracked…

Anyway, after a while of strengthening your “gratitude muscles” you can start venturing into the “gratitude for crappy things.” This can be a challenge, and definitely not something I’ll go into depth about today, but there will come a time in our life when we can reflect on the stuff that didn’t go well and, if not be grateful for it, just not feel like a victim about it. And when we choose to no longer be a victim to life, we set ourselves free.

Gratitude can be practiced anywhere, anytime, and because life is the way it is, the opportunities are in abundance.

Today, may I be an instrument of peace. May I learn how to love and be loved.
May I somehow be deserving of all that I have been blessed with.

Sending Love…Instead of Hate

I came to realize that when I held negative feelings or thoughts toward another person, I began to suffer. I felt pain. Heartbreak. Sadness.

Yet nothing inside me wanted to feeling anything more than that, toward the person that had hurt me the most.

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So the longer I held on to those negative feelings, the deeper they grew inside me. The sadder I felt. The lonelier I felt. But what was worse, was that his behavior never got better. In fact, it got worse. And the worse he got, the more bitter I got (you can see where this goes, right? Nowhere.)

I began to take a step back from my own personal experience and thoughts toward this person and tried to put myself in his shoes. This man was clearly suffering. Yes, I too, was clearly suffering. That meant we had something in common. If we were both suffering, was I contributing to his suffering in any way? I definitely could identify how he was contributing to my suffering. What I hadn’t realized was that a lot of my suffering from his actions was the beliefs I had about them. I thought they were personal.

What would happen if, instead of seeing his behavior as personal, saw it as a “lack of skill in dealing with his suffering”? What would happen if, instead of muttering hateful words about him, I said a small prayer for him? Dear God, bless his heart. May he know peace, kindness, compassion…

It didn’t take away the fact that he was responsible for dealing with his suffering in a more skillful way. It didn’t justify his behavior or make it “ok”. What it did was to help me take it less personal.

If I were him, with all his experiences in life, would I make the same choices? Would I feel the same? I don’t know, and that is a fact. All I did know was that he was dealing with it the only way he knew how.

Why do we do the things we do? Why do we choose the way we choose? I believe it’s because all of us, no matter how good or “bad” we are, simply don’t want to suffer. So we make choices daily, hourly, and sometimes by the second to avoid suffering in search for joy.

Sometimes our choices hurt others. Sometimes our escape from suffering comes at the cost of other’s pain. We, too, are just as guilt of causing others pain.

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We will never have the ability to make people change, or learn better coping mechanisms so that they can stop doing what we don’t like (and if you try, you will constantly subject yourself to more suffering, which is insanity), but what we can do, and where our power lies is directly in how much negative energy we put into ourselves and onto others based on circumstances that are completely out of our control.

When it is raining, you can curse the sky, but the rain doesn’t care. It still rains. How you feel about it and what you choose to do in the rain is your choice.

Playing Bad Cards

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We are all dealt our own unique cards in life. Some people get a good hand. Some get a crappy hand. But in the end, when the game is over, we all end up in the same place (dead). So how do I want to spend my time until then? I.e., how do I win with the crappy cards I was given?

Pissing and moaning about the dealer? Holding resentment towards those that seem to have gotten the better hand? Steal their cards? Cheat? Drink myself to oblivion or dive into other addictions so I don’t have to feel as bad about my crappy hand?

What if I have fun and play my best, no matter how crappy it may seem? I might not beat the others by wiping them out but I will win by finding joy that AT LEAST I can play.

I might find joy in the game simply by learning, growing, making friends, sharing our “secrets” to the joy-finding approach.

IN the end, I might even realize it wasn’t a game of me vs you or even me vs the cards. Maybe it wasn’t even a game.

Some people like to stay sitting at the table, hoping for a better hand. I admit, I was one of those people thinking that if I stayed in the game long enough, maybe my luck would change. Now I’m starting to realize there was only one player at the table and it was me! Life is too short to stay there!

Who is making all these rules anyway? Who assigned the value of the cards? Who decides if the cards in your hand are even crappy or not?

It’s time to live!

Uninvited Guests and Their “Gifts”

uninvited-guest
Who doesn’t love it when someone comes to their home bearing gifts? Whether they were invited or not, if someone comes to my home with a present for me, I want to welcome them in and serve them my finest tea! What a thoughtful gesture! The kindness should definitely be returned!
But what about those uninvited guests that bring gifts that you aren’t quite sure you needed or even want? Even worse, what if they didn’t bring anything, or brought you something that made you uncomfortable!? Can you still be grateful? Can you still show the same kindness?
Circumstances in life are like guests in our home. The good circumstances, like landing an awesome job, or getting a promotion, getting married, winning a competition, having a family, etc., are usually welcome and invited. While they come with hard work, the gifts they bring are usually joy and happiness (just to name a few). The bad circumstances, however, like losing a job, getting rejected, getting divorced, etc., are not as welcome. In fact, they are oftentimes violently rejected. We can take it quite personally and offensively. What we easily forget in those times is that although we may not have wanted that circumstance, it is still a gift.
The wrapping it came in may seem horrendous, but what if you took that gift graciously and unwrapped it? Play with it. See what you can do with it. On the outside it seems pointless, but if you give it a chance, you might be surprised at the real gift inside!

Some people sit around waiting for circumstances to change so that they can finally be happy…They throw away all the gifts from their uninvited guests, mumbling, grumbling, waiting for them to leave already! “Well, I didn’t invite them,”  “I didn’t ask for that,” and “They should know I don’t like that or need that…” They sit there in their misery celebrating only when guests bring them gifts that they like and appreciate- things they “think they need”. Anything else is NOT welcome.

I have a friend who is always laughing and joyous, and way back when (during my divorce) I spoke to him of my woes, he would always say the most annoying thing, “Just be happy!”

I would get so upset when he said that. I would think, “but you don’t understand what I’m going through! How can I be happy when such and such is happening to me!?”
His response was always the same: Just be happy!
For the longest time, as much as I cared for him I secretly resented it and wondered if he was really not happy and just putting on a show about being happy. I would secretly look for clues as to his unhappiness. I saw him go through loss and insecurity but he would just float through it as if it hadn’t phased him.
I began to assume, he must be a fake! How could anyone be that happy in times of trouble?
I justified my sadness saying, “When crappy stuff happens you’re supposed to feel crappy! You’re supposed to talk about it and process the emotions! I WILL be happy! Just not now…” When my uninvited guest (a.k.a. “circumstance”) leaves…
Then I realized… Being happy isn’t dependent on circumstance. Happiness doesn’t come and go. It’s always there. It’s always inside. Every day is a welcomed gift, even if it comes disguised in something that looks like something we don’t want or need. We just have to choose, daily, if we want it or not. If we are willing to unwrap it and use it.
Circumstance is the uninvited guest, and whether that guest brings you a gift you want or don’t want, it is always a gift.
Unwrap it. Find the blessing.
And if you can’t find the blessing, say thank you anyway.
You will understand what its purpose was for later.

How A Beat Up 1987 Toyota Camry Changed My Life

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At one of the largest turning points in my life (my 2nd year of undergrad in New York) I was ready to throw in the towel and give up on life. I was flunking all my classes. I walked in on my boyfriend of 4 years sleeping with another woman. I had two jobs and still, my bank account was nearing zero. I was living off of canned tuna and rice. I was living in a basement and still couldn’t afford rent and was being evicted.

“Why try anymore? I’ve done so much already and nothing happened. It’s too much work, and I don’t know if my efforts will ever pay off. What if I’m destined to live this life? Why not just accept it?” I told myself.

Here I was, a small town girl from Idaho, living in New York trying to make something of myself, but no matter how hard I tried, I kept failing. I wasn’t smart enough. I wasn’t pretty enough. I wasn’t good enough. It’s not fair! Why does everyone else have it so easy and I have to struggle? No one loves me. No one will ever love me. I’ll always be a failure. I’ll never find happiness… “I quit! This is hopeless!” I told myself.

On what I decided was my last week of class, my professor noticed my glum attitude and asked me to dinner. That night changed my life. We talked about why I was sad, what I was so disappointed in, and why I was blaming my life and problems on external things like other people, my childhood, and “bad luck” or “destiny”. She told me:

“Everything that you have done in the past, and everything you are doing right now, and everything that you will do in the future is because YOU chose to do it. Everything that you didn’t do in the past, and everything you aren’t doing right now, and everything you don’t do in the future is because YOU chose not to do it.”

I fought back, “No! I don’t have a choice in this! I tried! I did my best! It didn’t work! It’s hopeless now….I’m not at fault! This is just life. I’m being realistic!”

She repeated what she told me, again, and again, and again, until it finally sunk in. “THIS IS YOUR LIFE, AND ALL OF IT IS YOUR CHOICE. AND YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR CHOICES AT ANY MOMENT…”

Wait… what? I can change my choices at any moment? At each and every moment in my life, I can change what I chose to do or not do…

13 years have passed since that day. The greatest lesson of my life. Sometimes I still want to externalize my disappointments. But I’m constantly reminded of her words. I learned that honestly owning up to your choices (good or bad) takes a lot of courage. I learned that if one choice didn’t put me where I wanted to be, I had to make a different choice.

So ask yourself: “Do I like where I am right now in life?” If not, “What did I do to get myself into this situation?”

Now ask yourself: “What can I choose to do now to change my situation?”

The good news is, no matter what choice you make, IT’S ALL YOURS!

The bad news is, that no matter what choice you make, the consequences are all yours too. So choose wisely…

But if you really want it, you do what it takes. Yes, the first few steps are the darkest and scariest, and it might mean leaving New York with your tail between your legs, feeling like a failure while you get into your broken down 1987 Toyota Camry in the middle of summer with no radio and no air conditioner, with one door hanging off it’s hinges, and driving across the country to move back in with your parents and starting all over until you get back on your feet… (or not! That’s just what it took for me.) The point is, no one is to blame for your life, and changing it is scary because we are essentially stepping into the unknown- out of our comfort zone – that place where, ironically, all the juiciest, yummiest, priceless payoff is waiting. Yup… A good life takes effort, work, and time.

I learned that no magic fairy dust or princess wand was going to bring bliss to me on a silver plate… (Yeah, I think I may have honestly hoped it would at that time. And why not? I deserved it! I was a good person. I had good intentions. I was a hard worker. I was nice…I thought…)

What I learned was that no one on this Earth owed me anything. What I learned was that those first steps, however scary, ultimately empowered me and served as a reminder that I AM THE MASTER OF MY LIFE. If it sucks, it’s because I let it suck.

This life is all yours. If you don’t like it, or notice you keep seeing the same disappointments, CHANGE something you are doing in your life! But your life is yours, and only yours, for the taking. It’s your birthright. Own it. Your ONE life is here for you now.

“Negative and Positive Energy” – WTF does it mean?

The Super Easy & Simplified Explanation of “Energy” and How You Have The Power To Change It

I was 29 when I first heard about “energy” and had no clue what it meant. My family-friend who had always inspired me (and ended up being my “spiritual adviser” (a.k.a. the one who kept me real when things got bad in life) was telling me about personal responsibility, and how if I focus on how I perceive the bad stuff that is happening to me as bad stuff, it feels worse (both physically and emotionally) than if I were to find the “blessing” in it. This was my first exposure to this kind of thinking and the concept is still a little vague to me. One thing for sure though, is I had realized I had spent 29 years of my life blaming others for disappointing me and hurting me and needlessly suffering for 29 years. And this was my first experience with “energy”, which at first sounds like a bunch of spiritual mumbo-jumbo, but is in fact, a simple truth to the basic human psychology. I believe that if you can master this, you will have ultimately mastered your mind.

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So what is “energy”?
The complicated version: Energy is basically anything and everything and it can move to anywhere and anyone at anytime from anyone and anywhere at anytime. It is from an infinite source in which no one can take too much and there not be enough for someone else. It can be positive energy, negative energy, or the “blah” kind of energy, and you can take as much or as little as you want, whenever you want. You can share it with billions of people and still have your share, if not more.

The simple version: The feeling and/or emotion you have at any moment in time. If you want to feel good, you can. If you want to feel bad, you can. And if you want to feel blah, you can. Neither kind of energy is valued as “good” or “bad”. It’s just energy, and it can be helpful or detrimental, depending on how you use it because the catch is… it’s contagious… For example, if you saw a horrible vicious attack on an innocent victim and you felt enraged, it’s not necessarily “bad” energy, because it’s a “negative” event, nor is “rage” a negative feeling. That rage could be just what you need to stand up for justice and protect that person (or even inspire others to stand up with you in solidarity- maybe even start a movement!). Similarly, let’s say you had a burst of “joy” seeing someone you didn’t like suffering a little (admit it, we all have that feeling). It’s a “nice” feeling (oooooh, that lovely feeling of revenge…), but that “nice” feeling isn’t necessarily positive enough to make the world (or you) a better place or person. And sometimes we don’t feel anything, and that’s fine. Not everything, nor every moment needs you to feel something or respond to right away, or ever.

So as you can see, the skillful recognition, understanding, and management of how and when we use these energies is ultimately what makes the difference in creating the life that makes us happy, successful, fulfilled, and productive.

Now for my personal experience…(What would a blog be without the personal touch?)

A few months ago, I learned of the ultimate betrayal towards me. My heart was crushed. My world came crumbling down on my physically and emotionally. I didn’t know what to do or even how to feel. It was like negative energy and blah energy at the same time. I wanted to scream, and escape, while at the same time, I didn’t know if I was sad, mad, or simply cutting off all of my emotions just because they were too much for me to handle at the time. Even though it sounded like the easiest way around the pain, ending my life wasn’t an option. I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t smile. I couldn’t think, or hear, or even breathe normally. And I let that stay that way for quite a while (3 weeks or so). It was a dark, cold, lonely moment for me, and I tried in every way I knew how to “fix” myself from feeling so horribly. I did lots of crazy stuff, like dousing myself in Essential Oils, exercise, reading the Bible, spiritual passages, writing, watching motivational videos, empowerment videos, listened to empowering music, sleeping, breaking stuff… yelling, crying, etc.), and no matter what I did I couldn’t escape from it. So I embraced it.

I decided I would feel every bit of it. All the sadness, all the feelings of betrayal, all the pain, all the tightness in the chest, the pounding heart, the crushed soul, the shock, disbelief, the doubt, curiosity, the lump in the throat. I would intentionally take it all in and embrace it. “THIS is what everyone feels when they experience this kind of stuff,” I told myself. “It’s normal, and although it isn’t anything I would wish on anyone, I will walk through this fire with my head high, brave, fearless, and ultimately, a better person.”

Motorcycle Details

Slowly, each feeling dissipated. Anger was the first to leave. Fear was next. Sadness is on the recession but still there. And that’s fine. For now. Slowly, I started noticing that all the things that made me happy were still there (I had just forgotten about them because I was so focused on the bad stuff). My favorite green rolling hills covered in yellow madia flowers and grazing horses were always right there, every day, on my commute to work. My son was always there, ready to read a book and talk a little before bed. My puppies were always there, wagging their tail and following me around the house, full of happiness for just being next to me. My heart was beating. And while my health has now been compromised, I’m alive and still full of every opportunity I’ve ever had before in life. And… my friends were still there, ready to listen to anything and help me through it. I wasn’t alone, never was, and never will be.

It isn’t that optimist crap, or me pretending that the problem isn’t there. This is me harnessing the power of pulling positive energy from the infinite abundant source of “positive energy” to replace the “negative energy” that was clouding my personal world and (what felt like) was sucking me of my soul and devouring me alive.

You see, the more I remembered and looked for those things that brought me happiness (or good feelings), the less “bad” I felt about what had happened. And the less bad I felt, and more genuinely “happy” I felt about other areas in my life, the more empowered I was, the more courage I had to move forward. My appetite slowly came back. My smile would show up every now and then. And eventually, I remembered how to laugh again and be silly. I was able to look at the person who had caused the pain and not feel anger. I accepted I had no control over what had happened. It happened…. More importantly, I realized that happened didn’t happen TO me. It was simply, an experience, that invoked a roller coaster of emotions, and thus many energies as well. It doesn’t make it right what happened. No, it was totally wrong. It was horrible, and appropriate steps have been taken to “right the wrong”.

But the point is, bad stuff happens to everyone, anywhere, all the time and it sucks. It truly, deeply sucks really, really bad. But it doesn’t have to suck forever, and you will feel better. When you’re ready. And the feelings and emotions that you are experiencing because of all that crappy stuff is, unfortunately, yours and yours alone. You gotta take that responsibility for it…even though (I know!) we’d rather give that job to someone else).

Maybe not the greatest example, but that, in a nutshell, is negative and positive energy.

Your Reality, My reality, and Living Peacefully Within The Two

priroda-osen-listya-travaSAID A BLADE OF GRASS

Said a blade of grass to an autumn leaf, “You make such a noise falling! You scatter all my winter dreams.”

Said the leaf indignant, “Low-born and low-dwelling! Songless, peevish thing! You live not in the upper air and you cannot tell the sound of singing.”

Then the autumn leaf lay down upon the earth and slept. And when spring came she waked again — and she was a blade of grass.

And when it was autumn and her winter sleep was upon her, and above her through all the air the leaves were falling, she muttered to herself, “O these autumn leaves! They make such noise! They scatter all my winter dreams.”

The paradox of all relationships is that when we find ourselves with someone that is so different than us, if they do something that pisses us off we tend to conclude that they have some serious mental problems and need to change or fit into our mold in order for us to get along, when actually it’s simply that not only are they their own being, but they have their core values and beliefs are different than our own. We tend to put a value on their behavior with the label “right” or “wrong” with anything they do, say, or believe that is similar to us as being “right” and everything that goes against what we believe as “wrong”. Our natural reaction is to either “fix” them, point out their flaws, or run the hell away from them. When these people are around us and their behavior or their attitude conflicts with what we are aiming to achieve, the conflicting values make us feel uncomfortable and causes a sense of tension between us, and sometimes a standing animosity.

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To put things into perspective, let’s use a simple example of which way you replace the toilet paper (if you even do that, or just leave it for the next person to take care of). Some people would argue that the toilet paper should always be facing out, while others believe it best to face in (and then there are those that couldn’t care less which way the TP faces). I personally believe that facing out is better, because you can tear it off easier. But that is my reality. It is also true, and just as valid that putting the toilet paper facing in is also very practical to someone. You’re thinking, “like who? Right?” Like people different than us. And that is precisely the paradox I’m speaking of: Us vs Them.

Because we are so different, and our values are conflicting, we tend to default to creating walls between us. It’s safer that way, and we don’t ever have to deal with that uncomfortableness ever again…until we come into contact with another person that isn’t in alignment with our beliefs. By avoiding these differences, building walls, or holding an “Us vs Them” attitude we gradually lower our tolerance to variance and ultimately make ourselves “allergic” to things that make us uncomfortable. Our intolerance for difference is what causes conflict, war, hatred, and animosity.

walls

Just as there are different realities, there are different ways of thinking about this topic as well, and this blog is just my own projection of my own reality. For example, there are some people that believe walls should be built between those very different from ourselves for whatever reason. There are some people that believe that through continued effort to communicate and negotiate, you can eventually reach a win-win. I think in many cases, a win-win approach is quite possible as long as both parties follow the rules agreed upon. But I think the key to long-term conflict resolution (especially when communicating and negotiating doesn’t work) is to respect an alternate reality and acknowledge it can be just as valid and true as our own, because the fact is, we are not that person. I am me. You are you. We did not live the other person’s life. We do not have their background and experiences.

If there is a God, and God made each and every one of us, that means that we are all special. But that also assumes that we are all a little different in a variety of ways. And the experiences that we go through further create differences- some of them great and some of them not so. But it is my belief that there can be a peaceful coexistence among multiple realities (Keep in mind, I’m not talking about psycho serial killers and things of that nature. I’m talking about basic human interaction and a wide variety of relationships we find ourselves getting in and out of throughout our lives).

That said, if we could just accept the notion that in this great big world, there are people out there living a completely different reality than yours- a reality that makes absolutely no sense to us. There are people that are aware of those differences but firmly believe that they are right and the other is wrong. What I’m saying is, you don’t have to understand why someone does something, and you don’t have to like what they do in order to be at peace with them.
There are a number of possible realities, with yours being one of them, and all of them are different, and equally valid for each of us in our lifetime. What if we tried respecting the idea that although they are completely different than you, although what they think, say, believe or do makes absolutely no sense to you, that it’s ok. That weird thing about them does not remove any value they have as a human being, and doesn’t necessarily qualify them as being a bad person, or even an unloving person.

My personal opinion is that if God didn’t want them on the planet, he/she wouldn’t have created that person in the first place. All people, the people similar to you and the people different than you have some huge genius purpose in this world. It’s easier said than done, but you can actually trust the Universe. Sometimes nothing makes sense immediately, but it all falls into place in the end, and if you want to love others and be loved in all of Love’s true glory, it’s better to open the door to your heart to uncertainty a little more.

How To Finally Let Go and Let Live in ONE Week!

Here is a FREE 7-day program that will finally allow you to let go and let live. All in ONE week!

After learning this technique, my life was changed forever, and I thought I’d share this little gift with the world, so here it is, in 5 easy steps!
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1) Go out and find a large rock. It should be light enough to fit in your pocket and heavy enough to feel the weight. Now name it. You can write that name on it or not. Whatever works for you. I called my rock “Stress”, with other pet names such as “Anger”, “Frustration”, “Worry”, and “Resentment”.

2) Put your new rock in your pocket and carry it with you every where you go. No pocket? No problem! Just hold it. Put it in your purse, your backpack, your bra. Whatever you got! Taking a shower? No problem. Bring it with you. This rock will be your new best friend for the next week.

3) After the first few days, reflect on how you feel. Not bad, right? No biggie. Still not sure what’s the point? That’s ok. Keep carrying it. Talk to it. Feed it. If you give it enough attention it will grow!

4) After three days, reflect on how you feel. Did people ask you about it? Did you find it getting in the way of things you wanted to do? Places you wanted to go? A little embarrassed? Did it become such a burden on your day that you weren’t as productive as you could have been? Are you starting to feel weighed down? Keep carrying it! Introduce it to your friends!

5) After the 7th day, reflect how you feel. Are you ready to throw that rock away? Are you ready to end the friendship you’ve developed to it? Ready to let it go? Or do you want to carry it around a little longer? At this point it’s your choice. You can carry it with you for as long as you want. You can also choose to leave it and carry on with your life.

“Stress”, “Worry”, “Frustration”, “Regret”, “Insecurity”, “Fear”… She was my best friend for nearly 25 years. I loved her. She was there for me. She never let me down when I needed a really good excuse for not doing something. The comfort of holding on to our relationship seemed more easy than letting her go. But one day, I decided it was time to go our different paths… And my life has never been the same.

Now I realize that it was my choice all along to carry all that stress, worry, frustration, regret, insecurity and fear with me. Letting go was never the hard part. It was carrying it with me for 25 years that was the ultimate burden.

DISCLAIMER:
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BTTB – Going Back to the Basics in Moments of Strife

Often times people will ask me for a “quick fix” to a specific problem that they may be having, and each time I try to reach into the back of my mind for quotes, books, movies or songs that helped me in my (one of several) times of struggle, and although there are so many inspiring messages out there, I always find myself going back to the same piece of advice – Find gratitude in this moment, because it is an essential piece to something greater.

When I was at the peak of my troubles- or should I say the birth of my freedom- I fell upon an audio book by someone I can’t remember now, but what they said stayed with me and it was to always maintain the attitude of gratitude. I think that came from “The Secret” or was at least inspired by it. The point was to trust that at this very moment, recognize that everything is just as it should be. To trust and recognize that you have everything you need for this very moment, and that the struggles were also a part of what I “need”. I’m not going to go into detail right now (perhaps some day I will) about what all that means, but I was at my greatest despair. I had taken a great leap of faith in ending an abusive marriage and took on two jobs to take care of my son and two dogs. I was scared, insecure, alone, and had been told for years that I would never be able to make it on my own. For me, having confidence in my decision was one thing, but being grateful for the repercussions that came out of it (a lot of hard work and navigating my life as a single mother all alone) was key.

It’s been 4 years, and although I’ve come really far, the inevitable downfalls in life will occasionally dampen my spirits. In those times, I like to remember the speech, “Gratitude” (spoken by Brother David Steindl-Rast, music by Gary Malkin, and Louis Schwartzberg’s cinematography):

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day. It’s the one day that is given to you today. It’s given to you. It’s a gift. it’s the only gift that you have right now and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day in your life and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.

Begin by opening your eyes and be surprised that you have eyes that can open. That incredible array of coors that is constantly offered to us for our pure enjoyment. Look at the sky. We so rarely look at the sky. We so rarely note how different it is from moment to moment with clouds coming and going. We just think of the weather, and even with the weather we don’t think of all the nuances of weather. We just think of good weather and bad weather.

This day right now is unique weather. Maybe a kind that will never be the same as it is right now. Open your eyes.

Look at that. Look at the faces of whom you meet. Each one has an incredible story behind their face. A story that you could never fully fathom. Not only their own story, but the story of their ancestors. We all go back so far. And in this present moment, on this day, all the people you meet, and all that life from generations and from so many places from all over the world, flows together and meets you here, like a life giving water, if you only open your heart and drink.

Open your heart to the incredible gift that civilization gives to us. You flip a switch and there is electric light. You turn a faucet and there is warm water and cold water, and drinkable water. It’s a gift that millions and millions of people in the world will never experience.

These are just a few of an enormous number of gifts that we can open our heart to. So I wish that you will open your heart to all these blessings and let them flow through you. Let everyone who you will meet be blessed by you. Just by your eyes, by your smile, by your touch, just by your presence. Let the gratefulness overflow into blessings all around you. And then, it will really be a good day.”