Ever-Changing Reflection

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding... It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self. Therefore trust the physician, and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility.
~ Kahlil Gibran

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Today's Gratitude

The last week has been extremely hectic and emotionally draining, so I have not managed to blog at all -- though I have been overflowing with gratitude for the time I got to spend with friends, the love shared and the blessing of having them in my life.

Two of my best friends, husband and wife, moved to California yesterday. As I write, they are currently driving somewhere in the Midwest along their route. I am heartbroken that they're gone, but I am overjoyed for this next phase of their lives and the adventures ahead of them. Mostly, this whole experience has taught me a lot about gratitude and appreciating what you have while you have it. I spent every single moment I possibly could with them over their last four days here, and I cherish every single one of those moments. I know we'll have many more through video chats, texts, phone calls and visits.

Three things I'm grateful for TODAY:

  1. That my dear friends who have become family to me are finally able to realize their dreams. Everything is falling perfectly into place for them, and it is nothing but the work of God.
  2. I am blessed to have met them, known them and shared so much with them. I am so glad we're so close and such a big part of each other's lives.
  3. That I have the resources and independence to be able to visit them in a few months. I am really excited for my trip west!
What are you grateful for today?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Love Yourself

via Personal Excellence
Today's task involves reflecting on what you love about yourself and being grateful for yourself, your uniqueness, your purpose and your place in this world.

This is such a hard challenge for me because, while I am mostly confident and secure, I struggle to love myself; I fight the comparison game all the time. #FOMO 100%

But, I'm going to try, because that's the whole point.

What am I grateful for about myself? I am grateful for my beautiful eyes. I am grateful for my bright smile. I'm grateful that growing out my hair has been painless this time around, and I receive so many compliments on how gorgeous my long, wavy locks are (and they are gorgeous). I'm grateful that I am drawn to helping people, that it's natural for me to empathize. I am grateful that I am passionate and become obsessed with whatever I am loving in the moment. I am grateful that I can run. I am grateful that I am a good writer and people look to be for advice on their writing. I am grateful that I am a problem-solver, and I find that fulfilling and challenging. I am grateful that I have natural rhythm and love to dance. I am grateful that I love deeply and without prejudice. I am grateful that I am stubborn and always seek the best.

I am grateful for me because I really don't know how to be anyone else, though I may try at times. I have a unique purpose and place that no one else can fill, though I may not know exactly what it is yet. I am grateful for me because I have touched people's lives and altered the waves of the universe in ways that no one else could.

I'd be somewhat lying if I said I don't want to be anyone else but me, but I can realize that what I may want in others may not be as it seems. Everyone struggles, everyone fights their own battles, everyone must sacrifice for the lives they live. So, while I may envy someone who appears to be living my dream, I have no idea what it took to get there or what it is really like from their perspective. So, I want to be me, and only me, in the best possible way I can. I want to seek and fulfill my higher purpose, and I want to experience joy along the way.

Three things I'm grateful for TODAY:

  1. Special time tonight.
  2. Feeling more physically relaxed after a much-needed massage last night.
  3. Maintaining inner peace.

Monday, August 19, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Appreciate about Your Adversary

Since I do not blog on weekends, I did not address the third or fourth day challenges. The third is to write a letter of gratitude to someone, which I will complete these weekend as part of a friend's birthday and two friends' going-away celebration. The task calls for posting a picture of your letter, but these are highly personal and intimate, so I'm choosing just to mention that I am writing them rather than sharing them.

The fourth task is to define gratitude for yourself. What does it really mean and what does it mean to practice it? To me, gratitude is spiritual. It is the deep recognition and acceptance of your higher power moving in your life for your benefit -- even though the situation may not always seem immediately positive. When you thank someone, or express your gratitude for having them in your life, to me, that is synonymous with the Yoga concept of "namaste." On the surface, you are thanking that person, but on a deep, spiritual level, you are recognizing that God is putting that person in your life and influencing their actions for both of your benefit. Practicing gratitude is a form of prayer and praise. When you are grateful, you are open and accepting; that is why it is important to be grateful for the challenges in your life as much as the accomplishments.

Today's challenge is to name three things you appreciate about your adversary.
via Google Images
This used to be so difficult for me, and it still is, but it is no longer impossible given my view of gratitude I spoke of above. God is moving and working in my life, including through those who challenge and hurt me.

My biggest adversary at the moment is my roommate. He somehow manages to push me to my edge pretty much every day. As a result, my life is extremely stressful lately -- every day. It is a challenge to say the least. But, God doesn't give us anything we can't handle, and I know by stretching me and creating this huge negative (void) in me, He is only making even more room for the joy He has intended for me.

So, three things I can appreciate about my current adversary are:

  1. He knows who he is and makes no apologies for it.
  2. He is wildly successful, according to his definition of success.
  3. On a deep level, he understands me and accommodates me.
Your turn: What are three things you can appreciate about an adversary? It's tough, isn't it? But, it does feel good that you are able to be that big of a person, that you can frame situations in your life however you choose.

And... three things I am grateful for TODAY are:
  1. Being able to express, accept and talk about my emotions surrounding my friends moving across the country one week from today. It hurts like crazy, but it's comforting that we can share tears.
  2. Having friends who understand me and what I'm facing, who are doing everything they can to help me to the other side.
  3. The return of August weather this week! It's going to be 90 degrees tomorrow!

Friday, August 16, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: Give Thanks for Your Food

via Google Images
Today's task is to give thanks for your food, which is something I often forget to be consciously grateful for. I grew up saying "grace" before meals sporadically. My family said it around the holiday tables, and when I was really into my theological education in school and made my parents stop before we ate to say grace, but it wasn't a regular practice in my home. And, unfortunately, it still isn't.

I will say I am more conscious of how blessed I am to not only have enough food, but to have enough of quality food that nourishes me from the inside out. I am blessed to have so many choices of what, where and when I eat. I may not be eating in five-star restaurants every night or have a personal chef, but I never go hungry, and if I want to enjoy a meal out with friends, I can easily do that.

So, today, I will make a conscious effort to say "grace" before each meal. I'm a fan of the simple "God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for this food. Amen." That is where I will start. Today. Then hopefully tomorrow. And the next day.

In addition to that, I think it's also important to show gratitude in action, so I'm adding that to my list as well. I will thank those who cook for and serve me regularly. I will help feed those who can't feed themselves when I have the opportunity.

How do you express gratitude for your food?

TODAY I am grateful:

  1. It's Friday, and it's going to be a beautiful weekend!
  2. I get to see an old friend who moved across the country tonight.
  3. I woke up healthy.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

#Gratitude Challenge: 10 + 3

via Google Images
Today is the official start of my 14-day gratitude challenge. Yesterday, when I set my intention for the next two weeks, I failed to mention that I was participating as part of a virtual group, led by Celes of Personal Excellence (you can click the link to go to her blog and register for the challenge yourself).

Now that the administrative piece is out of the way, today's challenge is to list 10 things for which you are grateful, plus three things for which you are grateful TODAY. Here goes...

  1. I am grateful for God's Word, which I try to read daily and upholds me on this crazy path called life.
  2. I am grateful for my job. After being out of work for four months, I can appreciate, even on the days I don't want to, what a blessing it is to be able to work and have a decent-paying gig to go to every day.
  3. I am grateful for my family, who I know stands behind, beside and in front of me no matter what.
  4. I am grateful for my friends. They have really stepped up to the plate recently and shown their generosity and support. I love them for that.
  5. I am grateful for my home. I have a roof over my head, a warm bed to sleep in and all the modern amenities. There are so many who don't even have the first in that list.
  6. I am grateful for my adorable dog. He is my companion and my comfort. I will never be alone when he is around.
  7. I am grateful for the opportunities hidden in challenges. While I may not see the endgame, I know God does, and He has a plan for me.
  8. I am grateful for the summer weather we have had in the Northeast this year. We have had some really hot days and a few rainy ones, but, overall, it has been a beautiful summer.
  9. I am grateful for my health. I have been perfectly healthy for the last four months, and it has been wonderful.
  10. I am grateful for upcoming trips: Walt Disney World in November, Los Angeles within the year and maybe Miami in the spring.
Bonus three, just for today:
  1. I am grateful that my day started the best way possible.
  2. I am grateful that I can run tonight -- that I am able, that the weather is perfect, that I have the luxury of time.
  3. I am grateful that I know, to the core of my being, that everything happens for a reason.
Coming up with 10 things seemed a bit daunting, but it is amazing to find that once you start practicing gratitude, it flows more and more freely.

What are you thankful for in your life, and in today specifically?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Practicing gratitude

via Personal Excellence
For the rest of the month, I will be focusing this space on gratitude. I am dealing with some emotional situations right now, and I am struggling to find the positive and the happy in my daily life. I truly believe that being grateful, even in the darkness, transforms us -- our lives, our perspective, our situations, our emotions. Therefore, I am determined, over the next two weeks, to focus on the good and be thankful for that.

By being grateful for challenges, I can view them as opportunities to learn a lesson or become a stronger person. I don't believe God is testing us when we go through tough times, I believe God is shaping us into the best versions of ourselves.

I'm not sure how many are out there reading this little blog of mine anymore, but, if you are reading, I invite you to join me. I'll post the gratitude tasks here every day and reflect on my journey. If you are touched, share your own story in the comments or on your own blog (and send me the link!).

Let's make gratitude a permanent state of being.