Monday, June 30, 2008

How to Develop an Attitude of Gratitude

If the only prayer you ever say
in your entire life is thank you,
it will be enough.
- Meister Eckhart

In 2001, I was introduced to the writings of Sarah Ban Breathnach and her Simple Abundance books. I immersed myself into the whole program by reading A Daybook of Comfort and Joy and working through the companion workbook and discovery journal.

Over the next year or so, I purchased several other books in the Simple Abundance series as I reread the original. To say I jumped in with both feet was an understatement.

The collection was everything I needed at the time, and so much more. I was still reeling from a broken relationship six months before, and reading and working through the workbooks allowed me to rediscover my authentic self.

Several years later, I left my church just three weeks after my mother died. Then a year later, I quit my job, and left friends and family to move from Michigan to Tucson, Arizona, only to move back to Michigan a year later to care for my elderly father. During those six years, the one Simple Abundance tool that meant the most to me was The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude.

The journal opened with an essay explaining the power of gratitude, then listed 150 often-overlooked blessings to get the reader started. Every day, month by month, five lines were listed for the reader to note what they were grateful for that day. Quotes guide the reader along the journey.

For me, the best time to express my thanks for the good things I found that day was just before bedtime. I was then able to go to sleep with positive thoughts in mind. I can tell you from experience there were times when it was difficult to think of one positive word to write down. Keeping the journal by my bed caused me to dig deeper into my day for the right word to express as I gave thanks.

A line in the essay explains what happened to me as I met with my journal night after night during the most trying times. “Once we accept that abundance and lack are parallel realities and that each day we choose – consciously or unconsciously – which world we will inhabit, a deep inner shift in our reality occurs.”

Over time, I felt that deep inner shift. Although the Gratitude Journal was not the only tool I used, it made a profound difference in my life. Whether you are experiencing abundance or lack, consistently expressing thanks to God and the universe will open the gates for greater goodness to come into your life.

The quote at the beginning of this post was the first quote in a simple journal placed in my hands when I needed it most.

You will not need a formal journal to start expressing your thanks. Any notepad or piece of paper will suffice. Consider beginning such a sacred journey today and see what positive changes come into your life.

Friday, June 27, 2008

An Extra Special Father's Day Card

Dad received a special Father’s Day card this year. Fifteen-month-old David sent him a great-grandpa greeting. What really made it unique was David’s signature on the inside.

Yes, Dad’s very special great-grandson apparantly signed the card. By the looks of it, he only had a little help from his mother.

When I mentioned the signature to Dad, he grinned and said, “Looks like he signed it himself.”

Pretty cool, David!

Quotes as a Motivational Tool

"Nothing can add more power to your life than concentrating
all of your energies on a limited set of targets."
-Nido Qubien
Author, consultant, motivational speaker

"When we combine Divine Timing with action steps
that honor our soul, things often fall into place."
-Cheryl Richardson
Motivational Coach

I absolutely love quotes! They are kept in a very safe place - my commonplace book.

According to Wikipedia, the commonplace books surfaced in the 15th century. Several famous people who kept commonplace books were Francis Bacon, John Milton, Bronson Alcott, Benjamin Franklin, Mark Twain and Virginia Woolf.

In Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events a number of charcters kept a commonplace book.

By definition they are a way to compile knowledge by writing information into books. I use mine for the numerous quotes I come across. Also I have lists of books to read and movies to see. After six years, I have a surprising number of quotes, although I also have quite a large number cut from various magazines or other places, in a special tin box.

The particular book I use has a quote by Maya Angelou on the front cover, "The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious. The desire to reach hearts is wise."

The quote on the bookmark, also from Ms. Angelou, states: "Women should be tough, tender, laugh as much as possible, and live long lives."

Sometimes I read through several pages, and always my spirit is lifted. For me, quotes are motivational, inspiring, encouraging, and fun to read. Some are humorous, others thoughtful, but if they are boring, they do not make it into my special book.

Every once in a while a duplicate shows up, and I realize I must have needed to read it again.

What favorite quote have you written somewhere? Do you keep a commonplace book? Are you inspired by the words of others?

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Early Morning Quiet Time

My early mornings tend to vary depending on the season or what may be going on in my life at the time. What remains consistent are the four to five a.m. rising, coffee with flavored cream, devotionals, and either writing morning pages or reading on-line news.

A recent pleasure was the discovery of the on-line Sudoku puzzle at USA Today. Sudoku and Free Cell are two not-so-guilty pleasures I enjoy on an almost daily basis. Yes, sometimes I spend a little too much time with one or the other, but early morning or late at night, they are there to encounter.

Sudoku comes in handy during the approximately twenty-two minutes of commercials during many TV shows. Although sometimes I get so involved I miss the show. Yes, it has happened. I'll look up and realize I missed a good share of the story line.

For me, early mornings are a pleasure. The quiet atmosphere, the feeling of being in a soft cocoon, drinking hot flavored coffee, watching the morning light replace the darkness, and anticipating another good day, all seem to help propel me forward.

I've recently started retiring early just so I could experience a longer quiet time.

What do you look forward to? What is your not-so-guilty pleasure? Feel free to share in the comments.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

My New Day Job

Such a volunteer I am!

I've studied grant proposal writing for several months now, but finally got up the courage to call around for an opportunity to actually, well, write. At the same time, the director of the Senior Center my father attends was looking for someone to write grants.

Now I am writing my first grant proposal, pro bono, and excited to finally have a live assignment.

Therefore, I spent several hours this morning looking for funders. I got really excited when I found a local foundation, but unfortunately the deadline was April 1st. Well, I'm all set for next year. Anyway, back to the drawing board.

For me, the learning curve for grant writing is steep. I'm excited and nervous at the same time. At least with this type of writing, I'll feel like I am making a difference in the lives of others.

How have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately? What new adventure are you undertaking? Or would like to? Share if you dare...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Confessions of a Newbie Blogger

I'm not sure why the headline picture is so huge, but there it is!!! Definite learning curve going on here. I'll try to shrink it if possible. If not, I may have to go to a different picture. If anyone has any information or suggestions, please let me know.

My sister, Susie, takes wonderful pictures. A couple more are on ElderCareCafe. I haven't asked her permission to use them, but at least we can enjoy them until she figures it out. I'm trying to get her to market her pictures. I think she could have quite a sideline business.

Thanksgiving weekend 2004, she and I flew out to Las Vegas on a cardboard airplane during turbulent weather. While I was in panic-mode, she was alternately sleeping and taking pictures of the ground below. Fortunately, she got some wonderful pictures. Hopefully, she will allow me to show some of them on this blog. If she says no, I might occasionally slip one in here anyway.

Hey, what are sisters for.

Confessions of a Caregiver

Throughout the course of my life, I have learned that journalizing, humor, and positive distraction goes a long way in creating calm in the midst of storm. This blog will provide me a place of relaxation, rejuvenation, and reflection. I hope it helps you, too.

My ElderCareCafe will offer a more professional take on caregiving and senior issues. Edie's Potpourri allows me to go in a more personal direction. You will hear more about my family, other interests besides caring for my dad, and my sometimes quirky sense of humor.

What is positive distraction you might ask? Well, it's a technique I learned during a stint in the Surgery Department of a large hospital. Under often extremely stressful situations, I watched as the "board runner", an RN who controlled (as much as she could) the order of surgery, nursing assignments, tried to keep the timely flow of cases moving throughout the day as she dealt with frustrated and angry surgeons. Well, that gives you just a small insight as to her duties.

Anyway, this particular nurse had the ability under the most stressful situations, to walk into the front office, sit down and say to a friend who worked in the office, "Did I tell you about (daughter's name) goal last night at soccer?" Then they would proceed to talk about whatever was happening in their personal life. A few minutes later she would leave the office, not once saying anything negative or mentioning the stressful situation.

She did this day after day. I soon realized this was her way of dealing with stress. She could come to a relatively safe place in the department to get away from the negativity going on elsewhere.

I was very impressed and have applied this technique many times over the years. Try it sometime. When you are the most stressed about something, turn your attention to anything that will distract you from the issues at hand. You will return to the stressful situation with a renewed sense of well-being and a greater ability to handle whatever comes your way.

Please feel free to leave comments on this blog. I look forward to hearing from you.