Posts tagged ‘grateful’

June 24, 2019

Flip the Negatives Around and Celebrate the Positives!

Today, I am choosing to celebrate the positives! The method I will use is practicing gratitude. Admittedly, I don’t feel like doing this or feel very grateful so I’m using force of will to get started, but I know the process will shift my focus and I’ll soon embrace the better feelings it will create.

In spite of the amount of body work I’ve done, past trauma leaves me bracing for the worst much of the time. I can feel myself holding feelings back with my steeled posture. If I don’t let negative feelings flow and release them, I can’t feel positive feelings.

The process of practicing gratitude can work for me as a way to slowly and carefully access feelings I’m not sure I want to feel or that I am subconsciously avoiding. I know it’s not touted as a technique designed for that, but I like to use it in this manner because it accomplishes a couple of things simultaneously.

With a structure for getting to the emotions beneath the surface, I don’t feel anxious or frantic. It’s like walking up a gentle slope to the top of the mountain rather than free-soloing the face of a cliff. The other thing that happens is, by the time I reach them, bad feelings are diminished or cushioned by the positive framework of gratitude I’ve created to support me. There’s a real beauty in the way this works.
positives
Here’s today’s process:

I am grateful the rain has stopped. My roof is leaking. I filed an insurance claim two weeks ago, but due to a delay by my agent and then another by the insuring company, an adjuster won’t show up until tomorrow. During those two weeks, wind gusts carried away a whole section of shingles and yesterday it began to rain.

I am grateful that the roof leak is small. The pitch of my roof is very steep so most of the water runs right off. I’ve been able to catch the drips that make it inside in a plastic tub lined with towels.

I am grateful I woke up early. Instead of trying to convince myself to go back to sleep, I made my way downstairs to discover the sound of running water. I followed my ears to the closet that contains my water heater. A pipe is leaking. Water was just beginning to pool. If I had waited until my alarm sounded, I would have had a flooded floor. Instead, I’ll just have a cold shower.

I am grateful I finally found an engineer who may be able to help with the flooding of my office building. The first 12 years I owned that building, the French drain was adequate. Now it floods often. The experts have determined the drain is clear and adding another would not help. What they haven’t determined is what will help. I’m hopeful that this new engineer will have the magic potion.

There seems to be a water theme here. How can that come as a surprise? When it rains, it pours, right? But wait, there’s more! That’s good because I’m not really feeling better yet.

I am grateful I haven’t contracted the stomach virus my son’s family is passing around. Even if I eventually get it, I appreciate the fact that I am not fighting floods while fighting a virus.

I am grateful I have power at my house. Thousands in my state do not because of the storms.

I’m grateful for all of those reusable grocery bags I found cleaning out the water heater closet. I didn’t realize I had so many size options.

I’m grateful I don’t have to do the dishes for a few hours. I tested some recipes and have a few pans that have to be hand washed. I don’t love that task so taking it off the list for awhile makes me happy.

Awww, a glimpse of feeling good!

I’m grateful I tested those recipes because that means there’s food in the refrigerator. I don’t have to think about what I’m going to eat today. All I have to do is reach, reheat, eat!

This makes me feel more secure. Yeah, my association of food availability and a feeling of security is a long story for another day. Suffice it to say I’m painfully aware of the connection.

Now I’ve reached the point where things get real. I still feel sad about the experiences that created that connection. The underlying feeling is grief.

That old grief is not all I feel. I have a load of grief and loss from current events as well. Finding the time and space to process it fully and still meet my obligations is a difficult balancing act. Especially when there are floods to clean up.

So, I’m grateful to understand that I am carrying grief. This is good information because grief often manifests as anxiety which I feel as a pain in my stomach. Knowing the difference allows me to heal my stomach, my spirit, and my psyche.

I’m not alone in experiencing grief as anxiety. Some also experience it as depression or sleep problems. Max Strom has a whole Ted Talk on breathing & healing in which he states that a vast number of us have a grief problem masquerading as anxiety or panic.

When I can reach the feeling of grief that is lurking, I also immediately feel more grounded, centered, and calm. The “bad” brings with it the good. I am no longer willfully focussing on positive. It just appears in my awareness.

That allows me to relax the steeled posture I previously described. I can focus on my breath rather than holding it. This is a great beginning point!

There is much to process. In the moment, grief can feel like slogging in mud with unexpected waves of water suddenly crashing against you. But looking back, I quickly recognize that feeling grief does not crush me. It frees me.

I believe that eventually I will be free enough to revel in joy and I am grateful to be on that path.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Lb5L-VEm34

https://maxstrom.com/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/im-going-let-thanksgiving-kickoff-new-year-filled-gratitude/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/gratitude-is-my-best-defense/

http://www.cooking2thrive.com/blog/preparation-for-healing-managing-expectations-begins-with-setting-clear-intentions/


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

November 14, 2016

Hosting Thanksgiving is Easy

Hosting Thanksgiving is easy when you set intentions. Are the holidays really right around the corner? They must be because I’m sitting here planning my Thanksgiving menu. It’s been awhile since I’ve done an all out Thanksgiving production and I’m wondering just how big it should be?

I know the point of the holiday is not the food, but I always look forward to a table full of freshly made dishes that I prepare only once a year. There’s no crossover between my Thanksgiving and Christmas menus because we celebrate Christmas with breakfast rather than dinner. Just thinking about that makes me want a steamy hot biscuit with strawberry jelly, but that’s beside the point.
biscuits
Or maybe it’s not. Sometimes it’s the simplest things that we long for most – my Aunt Opal’s cherry pie, my grandmother’s beef and noodles, my mother’s cinnamon rolls made from canned biscuits. For you it may be the chicken soup your mom fixed when you were under the weather, or the grilled cheese sandwich she grilled with butter and served with tomato soup.

Obviously, it’s cliché to say that food tastes better when it’s made with love, but any dining experience is enhanced when the food is made by someone who cares how we feel; someone who shows up for Thanksgiving with a pie because they like to spend time with us; someone who hopes to bring us comfort. Offering and sharing food is one of the ways we express love beginning the first moment we hold our babies close to feed them.

There’s a scene in the movie “The Blind Side” that shows the Tuohy family focused on football and TV rather than each other on Thanksgiving Day until they realize their house guest Michael Oher is sitting at their dining table by himself. Seeing him there as alone at their table as he is in life, they are moved to gather around and share the meal with him. This sharing enriches the family and the bond they are forming with Michael. It’s a great illustration that we inherently understand breaking bread is an action affirming trust, confidence, comfort, and acceptance within a group.

For the host, a holiday meal, or any family gathering, is a delicate balancing act. If you go all out cooking for days making everything from scratch and no one seems to notice, it can be disheartening. If you go to a restaurant because you’d rather focus on the family than the food, you risk the ridicule of someone who thinks you’re being lazy or don’t care about family traditions. Which brings me back to the decision at hand. How large should I make this Thanksgiving’s production?

No matter what I’m deciding, I like to start by settling on some intentions. I’ve done this enough to recognize that my intentions will automatically reflect my priorities, so setting intentions and determining priorities are a simultaneous process (there’s a time saver right there). Setting intentions rather than goals gives me a path to feel successful even if the soufflé collapses and the pie crust is soggy.

So, what are my intentions for Thanksgiving?

I’m going to start with being kind to myself. That looks like not doing too much. It’s not unusual for me to work so hard to provide for other people that I feel worn out, so I have to be deliberate in my intent to prevent over-doing. Luckily, my sister has offered to bring dessert and rather than ask for pie, I asked for pie and cake. My daughter-in-law’s parents will also be joining us. Her mom offered to bring two vegetables. Instead of trying to make it easier for her by limiting it to one, I happily accepted the offer.

Next, I intend to make a workable timeline so I’m not rushing and flustered at the end. If I’m in a panic to get things done, I’ll be irritable and unable to enjoy my guests. Today I’ll review my menu and determine what can be done in advance and when I will do it. For the past two months, my now 4-month-old grandson has spent two to three days a week with me. When he’s here my work time is limited because he needs lots of tummy tickling. He’ll be here this week and next week, so a timeline is even more critical than in past years.

I intend to scale the menu to fit the time available. If that means there’s no pecan pie or fewer leftovers, then so be it. It won’t be the end of the world, and it won’t cause me to feel as though I’ve let anyone down.

I intend to tailor the menu to my guests’ dietary needs. There are only 8 of us this year, so I’ve had a chance to poll everyone to make sure each person will have plenty of options on the table. I have a friend who keeps a set of index cards noting the dietary restrictions and food dislikes of her close friends and family. As her guest, this makes a gathering easy to enjoy and I appreciate the thoughtfulness.

I intend to make everything from scratch. I am not suggesting that you should do this. For me, it means the food is more delicious and automatically free of preservatives, coloring, stabilizers, and artificial flavors. It also means I can control the amount of sodium and fat and be confident that everything is gluten-free.
table
I intend to make the table-setting beautiful, but simple. Using my grandmother’s tablecloth, real china, and beautiful serving pieces means candles or a simple bouquet will be all I need to add. Even though I can’t put china in the dishwasher, I like to use it for holidays plus I intend to let my kids wash the dishes. On years when I’ve had 25 guests, I’ve been known to sit the china atop folding tables covered in brown kraft paper scattered with crayons. Hey, I like weird juxtaposition and I have a lot of china.

I intend to be present in the moment once the guests arrive. Enjoying the company is more important than the food, the table, or the mess I just left in the kitchen. My dining room is separate from the kitchen so no one has to look at cluttered countertops while we’re eating.

I intend to make time for yoga and rest on Friday before driving to share leftovers with extended family.

I intend to make a list of things for which I’m grateful. It’s been a difficult and emotionally exhausting year. Remembering that even such a year has brought many things for which I’m thankful is a great way to refocus my energy on the positive.

With these intentions, I feel confident I’ll have a great Thanksgiving. My food may not be perfect. My front porch may not get swept. There may be a drop of dough on top of the stove or flour on the floor. None of that will matter. I will be able to let it go and focus on gratitude.

If you’re feeling dread or pressure about hosting Thanksgiving, consider setting intentions to make it easier. I can tell you from experience, it makes a huge difference for me.

November 24, 2015

Made with Love. Served with Kindness!

StuffingYou hear that the food always tastes better when it’s made with love! It seems to be true, but why mention it now? A lot of us are tying ourselves in knots preparing for this week’s Thanksgiving meal. In our heads, we hold an image of a large harmonious family gathered over a delicious meal composed of perfect replications of our great grandmother’s traditional recipes. We work ourselves into a frenzy to create a real world experience that matches this image. We focus on our expectations and feelings of obligation, then learn too late that along the way we have lost any feeling of connection and joy.

I’m thinking about this because I have a friend who just abandoned his car 2000 miles from home in a city where he was temporarily working, bummed some frequent flyer points and flew across the country to see family who had begged him to come home for the holiday. They picked him up at the airport and within five minutes began blasting him for not doing well because he doesn’t have as much money as he used to have before he lost his job of 15 years, his wife, and his large house. Soon after this berating, he called me.

For the first 8 minutes of the conversation, he mentioned none of this. He did not disclose that he was 2000 miles from where I thought he was, or that he was changing the plans we had made for this week. He accidentally let the story slip when I asked why he was breathing so loudly. As it turns out, he was walking 4 miles to get a ride from a friend. I was taken by surprise. He began explaining that he had made a last minute trip because his mom wasn’t doing well. I felt alarmed, assuming she must be in the hospital. Then he told me about the scolding she’d given him at the airport and how the guys at the gym were giving him trouble. Soooo, obviously, mom was well enough to go to the airport and he had been home long enough to work out. I felt confused. I started asking questions to try to make sense of the story. He still did not address our plans. As the details slowly revealed themselves, I was not pleased with him for failing to notify me of his change in plans and I may, or may not, have said, “There’s no excuse for that!” If I said it, I meant it. I believe I was right and I feel just fine about feeling angry with him.

At the same time, I recognize that it doesn’t matter how right I am, how disappointed, angry, annoyed, unimportant, or betrayed I feel. The bigger truth is that he is afraid and struggling, and, in spite of that, trying to accomplish the impossible task of pleasing all of the people he cares about. This often leads him to over promise and under deliver. While that could be called creating his own problem, my “no excuse” response did not make him feel loved, accepted, or supported. Reviewing the conversation, it seems clear that I have created a space in which I happily confirm for him that he’s not living up to expectations causing him to feel even more worthless and afraid to tell me the truth. That is a bigger problem than anything specific he has done. So while I may be technically right about the situation, I am woefully wrong at the same time.

This is a spot in which we often find ourselves. We are both right and wrong at the same time.
A coworker refuses to take on a task at work that belongs to a slacking worker and the company loses a customer because this task was left undone. What she did may have been technically right, but her choice was detrimental to the team overall.
A friend plans a move to Nashville to become a songwriter, but a mutual friend discourages him because for fear he may eventually have to move back home. Whether he stays home or moves back home isn’t really all that different, is it?
With her kids playing in the room, a neighbor screams to her best friend that her lousy husband cheated and she’d like to kill him. She may be right to feel the betrayal this strongly and to seek support from her friend, but expressing it this way in this situation, creates an environment of insecurity for her children. Can that be right?
A husband gets his kids every other Thanksgiving and it’s his year. He refuses to negotiate when the kids mom asks if he can switch out holidays this year so the kids can visit with her extended family that’s rarely together. Of course he’s within his rights to refuse, but is it the wrong thing to do?
Every time Uncle Paul sees his nephew, he reminds him, and the rest of the family, about the time he slept through Thanksgiving ’cause he was drunk. No matter that it was 10 years ago, then 12 years ago, then 15 years ago and he’s been sober 14 of those. Is Uncle Paul right about the facts, yes! Does it accomplish anything positive to bring it up now?
A woman in your Sunday School class doesn’t like her son’s girlfriend so she treats her politely while making sure to inform family and friends with a big eye roll that the girlfriend was once homeless, hasn’t finished college, uses bad grammar, and has been to, gasp, jail – all correct facts. She fails to remember to mention that the girlfriend has also had the same job for 5 years, is still in school, can sing like an angel, is an incredible artist, supports herself and the nephew she took in, and has never been charged with a crime. Does the portrait she has painted give the right impression?
A man misses his daughter’s evening wedding because his current wife’s daughter loses her house in a fire. Everyone lives in the same town, there were no injuries, and there is a 12 hour window in between events. Is it wrong to celebrate a joyous event in the face of a tragic one?
Aunt Betty never misses an opportunity to tell your sister she’s fat whenever there’s a family meal. She pointedly passes artificial sweetener when she asks for sugar and brings her an apple when she’s passing out pie to everyone else. Aunt Betty says she’s worried about your sister’s health. Your sister cringes every time Aunt Betty enters the room.

I’ll admit it’s sometimes difficult to determine when to challenge an affront and when to let it go because sometimes things that look the same on the surface are exactly opposite underneath, but let’s face it, most of the time it’s just easier for our egos to cling to being right, feeling angry, and lashing out than it is to admit we have been wrong or shortsighted. It takes insight, courage, and commitment to keep your heart open when loved ones let you down or make sure to let you know you’ve let them down. It may help to remember that we can all be right and still be wrong.

You’ll know you have a Thanksgiving made with love and served with kindness when:

• You feel no need to join the chorus when your mom and sister find fault with your brother’s wife who insisted on bringing cherry pie even though your mom told her not to. She also brought her big smile and warm hugs. The pie was just, you guessed it, the cherry on top.

• You notice that your grandmother always finds another place at the table for an unexpected guest without ever missing a beat.

• You discover that you want to forego a large menu and choose a few family favorites that you rarely have time to cook. If your husband loves slow-cooked ribs, you fix ribs! If your daughter has been raving about her friend’s mom’s chocolate lava cake, you forget the pecan pie and make chocolate lava cake. If your son likes pizza better than anything on the planet, you serve mini pizzas as an appetizer. And you make sure to include your favorite roasted cauliflower as well. You make these choices to deliberately show your family that you know and value their preferences. You feel at peace with your decision even when you happen to overhear a snide comment regarding the menu from a traditionalist cousin.

• You enjoy seeing your cousins so much that you hardly notice that your mom, who is angry with you, hasn’t put a single gluten-free item on the table other than turkey.

• You find yourself taking time to absorb the gratitude your family expresses for your efforts. You feel free to sit down and let your kids serve coffee and dessert or wash the dishes.

• You feel comfortable saying no to an 8 hour drive home for Thanksgiving during a time when you have been over obligated and feel that you need quiet renewal time. Will Aunt Helen say a few ugly things to your mother when you don’t show up? Possibly, but you know you are able to choose to let the bad behavior stop with her. You view your decision to stay home as a loving gift to yourself and your housemates.

• You feel more excited than disappointed when your mom encourages the family to volunteer at a shelter that feeds the community instead of maxing out a credit card to meet the expectation of a fancy meal.

• You find that you are beginning to show up for holiday events with your courage and boundaries intact and your defenses down.

• You feel free to gracefully let your reluctant relatives refuse your invitation to dinner and easily shift your focus to providing a fun experience for some close friends.

• You find that you are able to feel grateful for the gifts given you by your most difficult moments.

I am grateful for the insight I gained from the recognition of my shortsightedness. We wish you a holiday full of love, kindness, joy, gratitude, and delicious food!

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 22, 2013

Gratitude Is My Best Defense

Today I’m going to share my gratitude list. Yes, next week is Thanksgiving, but don’t be fooled, this post is only inadvertently timely. I am struggling. I can see that I’m not functioning as well as I usually do.

In an attempt to stay focused on a healthy routine, I headed for the lap pool yesterday. When I got in the shower at the gym, I discovered my swimsuit was on backward. I KNOW. I’m not sure how you can put a swimsuit on backward either, but I did it! How distracted am I? Leaving, I forgot to change out of my pool shoes, and then I almost hit a pole in the parking lot.

What has me feeling so discombobulated? A perfect storm of L-I-F-E. We all have them. Mine happens to be accompanied by the worst dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) I’ve ever had. I’d say at least 3/4 of my body is covered in the unbearably itchy rash. It is wearing me out and driving me to distraction at a time when I feel like I need to be on top of my game.

I’m usually full of solutions, but right now I simply don’t know what to do. I feel vulnerable and alone. The best defense I have against becoming overwhelmed is to focus on something for which I’m grateful.

So…I am grateful…

 That my mom was released from the hospital yesterday

That I took my truck in before the universal joint totally fell apart and left me stranded

That there is chili in the fridge so that I don’t have to cook dinner

For sea salt caramel gelato

That my plants haven’t died even though I’ve neglected them

That I have a back scratcher when I can’t stand to leave this rash alone

That my new walking shoes are finally feeling comfortable

For Nutella

For the smell of cinnamon rolls

For silver jewelry with filigree

For purple, and orange, and paisley

That it’s raining outside

For soft clothes

For funky eyeglasses

For crushed ice

For warm blankets

For laughter

For books

For the approaching holidays

For snow

Anyone else feel like this? Want to join me? What are you grateful for?