Day 26: Grateful to Wait in Line

An entry by Candice Davenport, The Gratitude Graffiti Project:

Gratitude Graffiti from the Hair Chalet.

Our nation and region showed great courage and determination yesterday to mobilize ourselves and each other, to get to the polls and take advantage of our civil right to cast a vote for our governmental leaders. We walked. We stood in line. Not for gas. But for something that meant something to us.

Some of us without power, some of us transported far from our homes, we overcame such things and made our presence known and our voices heard.
Maybe reflecting on this election day, in the wake of response and recovery from Hurricane Sandy and hunkering down for another pounding by a Nor-Easter, we can be grateful that we are made of a stronger will than we thought we were. Grateful that we are a resilient family. Grateful that we are a community that does care for its own. Grateful that we have the means to lend a hand. Grateful that we can cry and then pick ourselves up and move forward. Grateful to wait in line so our voices are heard, and know in a sea of people, we are not alone. We are here. We matter and that today could be our greatest day yet.

Sometimes our greatest day can start with a personal practice of thankfulness.

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Day 22: A day at the beach

“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Bruce Lee

Last year, six of us were scheduled to go on a surfing trip to the Jersey Shore.   I got a call from the instructor minutes before leaving the house to let me know that the waves and the wind were too high and dangerous for us to try surfing.  Without hesitation everyone agreed that we would still drive down to the beach and make the best of this day.

We arrived and as predicted the wind was blowing hard and the red flag was flapping strongly on the mast to warn everyone to not get into the water.  All of us walked down to the beach, took in the majestic views of the waves and we simply stood there in awe.  We went with the flow throughout the day and found a small more protected beach.  We learned Tai chi and in the end we learned how to paddle board and “surf” without the waves.

I am certain that what made our day so memorable was everyone’s intention to make the best of it, to have fun, to enjoy, to learn, to be together, to just be.  To be present.  And while every day is not going to be “a day at the beach”, that “surf” day taught me to continuously nurture my intention in order to become more present.  Becoming more present can positively transform the way I feel  about my day and each small or large task that fills it.

Day 21: When everything seems out of control.

Expression of gratitude at KnitKnack

“As long as we structure our lives in a way where our happiness is dependent upon something we can not control, then we experience pain.” Tony Robbins

By Lucila McElroy and Sonia Tamaroff

We have been one of the lucky ones.  We have power in a town where 90% of our homes are still without it.  We have extra rooms for our friends to stay with us and we have plenty of power outlets to help our neighbors charge their electronics.

Who knows  if I will continue to have power today or if a tree will fall on my house.  Nothing is permanent and we can can’t control anything out there, yet we want to, don’t we?

I know I  have been lucky to have a moment to pause and ponder a bigger picture.  We live our lives “making rules” that determine what NEEDS to happen for us to feel good.  Think about it.  Do you have to have someone “respect” you to feel good?  Do you have to make ‘X’ amount of money to feel happy?  Do your plans have to go exactly as “planned” to not feel stressed?  Do you have to achieve all your goals?  Do you have to be spiritually evolved or wait until you achieve total enlightenment to feel good?

Today, I invite you to see that absolutely nothing has to happen “out there” in order for you to feel good right now.  A challenge in these difficult times, I know.

What does this mean?  It means that today, when you experience a “tough” moment, you “see” things through a different lens.  Not one that determines your peace of mind  by what happens to you from “out there” but one that is within you to CHOOSE how to act or react moment by moment.

I am grateful to have power and running water.  Our house is open for anyone who needs it!

Day 18: Post hurricane thoughts from my 10 year old…

We are so lucky.  We are safe and with power.  After a night hunkered down in the basement, my daughter knew I was tired and she also knew that I wanted to reach out so she came up with her own thoughts to share…

Okay, Hi everybody! Today is a little different on the Gratitude Graffiti Blog- Your author here is Anabella, daughter of Lucila, (co-founder of the project), and your average, everyday crazy girl.  So. Gratefulness. I am going to start off with what I am grateful for. First off- Power! After hearing 2.4 million other people lost power due to Superstorm Sandy (Including many of my friends) I felt EXTREMELY grateful for light and heat.

Second of all: A safe trampoline! Of course, like my younger sisters Coco and Amelie, I simply looooove my trampoline, and with the power of cinder blocks I can still love it! Now, that is what I am grateful for.

In the midst of a hurricane, or superstorm (whatever you want to call it) there are so many things to give thanks to.  Do you have a shelter to sleep in tonight? Access to the internet to read this on? Are you in that 1/5 of Maplewood that still has power? Think of those things, keep thinking, a little longer… I mean, even if you aren’t in the middle of a hurricane right now, be grateful you are not! Just stop and think.

Of course, today may not be a great day to go out and write on windows and share what you are grateful for that way, sharing gratefulness isn’t just that. You can express what you are grateful for in SO many ways in this modern world we (so luckily) live in. Go out and talk to that one person you haven’t hugged today!  Comment on this post! Just yell it out and tell the world that way! It will raise someone’s day- I 100 percent promise you.

Okay, now, I guess this article is about sharing your gratitude.. Well that worked out better than I thought! Now the closing- take my advice! Sharing your gratitude won’t just raise someone else’s day- It’ll raise yours too! You just made somebody truthfully happy! How’s about THAT! Now, I will end with simply….  Goodbye!

Day 13: No more problems please!

A family expressing their gratitude together at The Roman Gourmet

“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. ” African Proverb

“No more challenges please!”.  Do you ever say something like this to yourself?  Do you ever feel like you can’t let go feeling disappointed, upset, down or angry with someone or something  in your life?

What if things could be different?  You see, we are so used to relating to the world as if our happiness is caused by something or someone “out there”.  We look to our friends, our family, our jobs, our houses, our situations to bring us happiness.  We get attached to things in our everyday routines being a certain way and if they don’t go as planned…what happens?  The more deeply we watch our minds we realize just how attached we are.  Think about how you feel when you have a goal and you don’t achieve the outcome.

What if we started to relate to our world differently?  Wouldn’t it FEEL differently?  What if today, you adopted a view that happiness comes from learning to react peacefully to whatever happens to you?  We know this deep down but we don’t often take a moment to contemplate it and act on it.

Don’t you want to become skillful at feeling peace of mind and reacting peacefully regardless of what is going on “out there”?  Well…for that you NEED “rough seas” to practice!  You need challenges to practice reminding yourself that your happiness comes from your reaction and not “them” or “that’ out there.  You need “problems” to practice patience with yourself and others.  You need tough moments in your life to help you see that you can get up again and to see that nothing is permanent.

So if you were relating to the world from this point of view,  perhaps the challenge itself will not be such a “challenge”.  You might even appreciate the challenge and start to see that this is your greatest opportunity to become the skillful sailor of your life.

What are you grateful for today?