Gratitude and Holiday Choices

Our kitchen sink water pressure stopped working. Barely a trickle. Hot water became hard-won and cleaning dishes took on a whole new level of groaning. A few days in, I was irritated with it.

But then I thought, you know, I’m lucky to have water at all. Or a sink, for that matter. Running water that can heat up, a refrigerator to keep my food, an oven to cook with ease, a heater, and air conditioner to keep me comfortable.

I stopped being irritated by the leaking water pressure level.

I started being grateful.

 

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I am not saying we should minimize the small pains in our lives (talking of real issues here now, not low water pressure).

A bit of perspective is all I’m asking here. Of myself. And if you want to join in, you too.

We are so blessed.

We have so much in this country. There are many things to complain about. But this holiday season, can we please, please, look at some of the great things we have?

 Focus on what to be grateful for. We have many of those. Even in times of pain and suffering.

 

I tend to complain about what I don’t have. What isn’t working. I’ve lived in loads of places where jerry-rigging the mickey out of a problem is what you do. At first, I was annoyed. After a while, I became aware of how ridiculous I was being. I don’t get upset easily anymore and when I do, I remember a lot quicker to take stock of things as they truly are.

 

I remember.

There are children in hospital beds for the holidays, eating out of a tube. Some with cancer that can’t eat at all. Puking everything up. With no friends. Alone and in pain, much more pain than I’ve ever experienced.

There are men and women whose bodies won’t work the way they’re supposed to. So instead, they spend their days and nights in hospital beds or back bedrooms with nowhere to go and not much to do with their lives. There are people, able-bodied and strong, without a smidge of love in their lives. Struggling to make money enough to buy dinner.

There are people who don’t have access to food. Or clean water. At all.

I’m not trying to hit your shame, guilt, or uber depressing buttons. Rather, trying to put this world into a big picture for myself.

I challenge you to do the same. Put your world into perspective. Seek out a joy in your life instead of focusing on your downfalls or afflictions.

 

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This holiday season, I will remember that I am blessed. I will not belittle my real issues and pains in life. But I will always, always remember that I am so very blessed.

I will say a silent prayer, send a hopeful thought into the universe, that those suffering will feel loved by another. They will get what they need without harm to themselves or others.

I pray that you are surrounded by love and can easily see the greatness in yourself and your life.

If you are not the praying type, that’s all good. There are many kinds of prayers. You do your thing. But we could all use a little goodwill toward mankind, don’t you think?

We can use a little nudge, a little reminder.

That hey, I have a home. A family. People who genuinely love and care about me. People who I love and genuinely care about. I have hopes and dreams and goals. I have food and water and clothes and ways of getting everything I need with ease. I am blessed. I have excess.

 

I choose to look at the silver lining. The hidden blessing. The positive side. I am an optimist, even when life has me sobbing or enraged.

I will never give up on believing that there is goodness in this world and in this life. I hope you don’t either. You are worth it. I am worth it.

We can find ways to healthily cope with the pains in our lives. We can find ways to smash the darkness with mini holiday twinkle lights and light it up until the darkness is dizzy with wonder and a little fright. Or personal demons don’t get to dictate that we must live as scared little children, hiding under our beds. They live within us. That gives us the power to feed or destroy them.

 

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Instead of focusing on our tedious tasks and oh so annoying bumps in the road, instead of focusing on the pain in our lives.

Just for today. Just for this moment.

Let’s look at the beauty, soak it in. Breathe in the joys and little wins and laughs and smiles and happy accidents, until we’re so full that the misery can’t touch us.

The gigging toddler. The panting happy dog that wants nothing more than to play with you and love you. A knock at the door. Letter in the mail. Hug from a friend. Call from a long-lost relative found anew. A bright sky. Relaxing, rainy nights.

Let’s stand in awe at the wondrous magnitude of beauty, of brilliance this world has to offer.

None of us are perfect. None of us have realized every desire or dream. But we’re worth striving, becoming, learning, and most of all, enjoying.

Enjoy this life. It’s uniquely yours, for better or for worse. And most of the time, you can choose for it to be better.

Let’s find that naïve, childlike wonder inside each of us. Feed it. Keep it alive. Don’t starve the innocence within yourself. Deal with the reality of the dark days and nights but don’t be consumed by them. Allow the light of this season to push back any darkness encroaching on your rightly deserved life.

This season isn’t about presents or price tags, winning holiday dinner competitions or playing one-upsmanship around the table. It isn’t having the brightest lawn of decorations or the biggest number of shiny boxes and bows under the tree.

It isn’t about my leaky sink. It’s about the ease with which I could get help and the fact that I have water, regardless.

It isn’t about the confusion over Christmas, Hanukkah, Yule, or Kwanzaa.

It isn’t about the tree or the candles or the wish lists.

This season is about peace, hope, and love. Forgiveness and new beginnings. And while these things may sound corny or trite, they are no less honest, important, and needed.

Let’s focus on what is right in this world. The best in ourselves and others. The hope for better, for healthier, for more joyful lives, financial situations, and relationships.

What we focus on is what we’ll attract, accumulate, and become.

This holiday season let’s choose to become a little kinder, more hopeful, a lot more grateful, attain a healthier perspective. Let us remember that inner peace isn’t something that comes out of a cereal box or shines up children movies alone.

I wish you harmony and peace this holiday season, within yourself and your life. It’s possible. Depends on our choices.

 

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11 Quotes for Those With Holiday Blues

It happens. For one reason or another, some of us easily get bogged down by one negativity, pain, or bad situation or another. 

So here are a few quotes to hopefully give you some perspective and hope.

 

“Self-care isn’t always manicures, bubble baths, and eating healthy food. Sometimes it’s forcing yourself to get out of bed, take a shower, and participate in life again.”

– Unknown

 

“The moment you feel you have to prove your worth to someone is the moment to absolutely and utterly walk away.”

― Alysia Harris

 

“The past is behind, learn from it. The future is ahead, prepare for it. The present is here, live it.”

― Thomas S. Monson

 

“We can only be what we give ourselves the power to be.”

– Native American Proverb

 

“Raise your words, not your voice. It is the rain that grows flowers, not thunder.”

– Rumi 

 

“Within the chaos, magic is found.”

– Tara Isis Gerris

 

“Sometimes, good things fall apart so better things can fall together.”

– Marilyn Monroe

 

“It never hurts to keep looking for sunshine.” 

– Eeyore 

 

“There’s no shame in having to fight every day. If you’re still alive to hear these words… then you are winning your war. You’re here.” 

– Jared Padalecki

 

“Life is a journey to be experienced, not a problem to be solved.”

– Winnie the Pooh

 

“A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity.”

– Franz Kafka

 

There is a lot of beauty in yourself and in this world.

Don’t give up on that.

 

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Hope in the Dark

I’d been having a few really hard weeks in a row. Things that a person can’t control kept stacking up on me. I’d work real hard to better myself but health issues would wipe away any signs of visible progress. I was hurting.

Hadn’t given up. But I was struggling. To keep positive. To keep my head above water. To feel like there was a purpose to my striving to become better, healthier. To connect with why I was fighting, why I kept pushing and trying and trying when nothing good came of it.

Feeling like a burden. Like because I was so unhealthy and sensitive that I was useless and a negative draw on those I loved, even when I was honestly positive and trying to help them.

 

Then I get this random message.

 

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From a woman who has fought injustices and misery to an extent that I just sit in awe of her. She is so strong. A warrior who carries a smile and a frighteningly magickal voice. So wise beyond her years and so, so youthful beyond her trials. She has always been so raw and vulnerable, so gorgeously honest and real and brave. Uplifting.

She has every right to be all kinds of bitter.

But she’s not. Instead, she shares her story with others. She lifts those around her.

A rare person indeed.

A person who sees other people. Truly sees them.

 

She messages me and asks if I’d like something she’s created.

In my fumbling, messy way, I try to explain how honored I am. Though a little sad that I can’t buy it to support her.

You see…

This woman is a creator. Most creators struggle to make money from their art. Especially since artists are shamed for selling their products for *gasp* money. As if we don’t owe creators for bettering our lives.

So when I find someone I like, I don’t care if they’re living on a mountain in a castle made of gold. I want to spend my money on them. Give them a review. Share their awesome creations.

This woman is asking if I’d like her product, for Christmas.

 

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I kinda just broke a little, you know?

But in a good way. A fantastic way. A marvelous, needed, healthy, wakeful way.

In the way that you wake up and realize you’re sleeping walking through a muddy, dirty, and deepening pit when there’s an escalator not a foot away. Clean and free and ready for use. All you have to do is clean up.

I broke in the way that happy tears flow and my heart and head both agree. They remember joyful emotions and hugs and smiles and memories and future hopes and dreams. They remembered strength.

The strength of soft flowers in a storm. Of small infants in a world of noise. Of baby deer, struggling joyfully to their feet for the first time. The strength of love that isn’t cheapened with lies or half measures or abandonment.

When your heart and head agree, you know all will be alright. And it probably already is.

 

I am so grateful for this woman. I celebrate this woman.

This season isn’t about gifts or cards or price tags. It isn’t about trees or candles or decorations.

This season is about hope. Love. Rebirth. Harmony.

It is about remembering to live with joy and purpose and the strength of vulnerability.

This woman is also a dinosaur. You might know of her. If you do, you already know she’s all of those things and more than I could ever put into words.

 

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We need people like this. To shake us awake.

This season can be so painful. Stressful. Unhappy.

When it was created for just the opposite of things. The little moments where love can soothe all the broken and hurting things in and around us. Where hope can bridge the gap between differences. Where truth isn’t about facts or what we can prove, but what we feel and know in our heart and mind and soul.

This season is so much more. We deserve so much more.

The love poured into my life when I’m dangling by a thread always makes me want to do better, be better. Become worthy of the kindness absorbed into my skin by those willing to share what this world so easily burns at the stake.

 

We need each other.

We can better this world. Even if it’s only for one person.

Be someone’s reminder. Be someone’s hope. Bring joy to someone. It doesn’t have to be a big huge ordeal. The little things. The little things can mean so much more than we realize. They can open heart. Or grow scar tissue over broken hearts, leaving inside a spark of something to be wished for. The little things are rarely ever, little.

Accept the same from another.

 

Thank you, Ra.

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Smile – Create Joy

 

Pick your goals and resolutions wisely. The decisions you make today, tomorrow, and the next day will define who you are next year.

 

“All who have accomplished great things have had a great aim, have fixed their gaze on a goal which was high, one which sometimes seemed impossible.”

Orison Swett Marden

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Celebrate what you want to see more of.

Tom Peters

 

If you want more joy in your life, create it.

I personally love how Brendon Burchard talks about this. He calls it bringing the joy. Love his energy. Check out his video.

He even gives four ways to create joy in your life and self.

You only need to watch the first 10:45 of the video for our purposes, as the last bit is talking about his services. Which I totally don’t have the money to buy, but if you do, totally keep watching! 😉

 

 

Image is the property of LDS Media Library

Have Courage, Little Duckling

Ducks appear to be effortlessly still.

Flawlessly gliding from one end of the pond to the other.

Behind the curtains, past what the common observer can see, beneath the water, those ducks’ feet are moving intensely fast. Webbed feet paddling quicker than would be expected compared to the relatively peaceful vision of the fluffy duck above water, floating on the water’s surface.

Beneath the surface, there is no calm. In order to keep moving forward, ducks are in constant motion, unbeknownst to the casual observer.

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Ducklings imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching. Their imprinting can also be modified by who they spend their childhood with.

And when I say anything, I mean it. They’ve been known to imprint of dogs, humans, and random objects.

First thing they see is fair game, human, animal, vegetable, mineral.

Okay, I have no idea if they actually imprint on vegetables or minerals, but it sounded good.

 

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Ducks look like they’re not expending any energy. As if they are just there, capable of being on top of the water without doing anything. Without action, work, without mess.

People are a lot like ducks. Little ducklings, in particular. Regardless of what age.

 

There is an unnumberable amount of character and identity to each person which we cannot see. 

We’re often counseled to treat people kindly because we don’t know what horrible things they’re dealing with in their lives.

I know it sounds trite or cliche. But if you think about it, a lot of the important things in life have become little more than a mockery of its original magnificence. 

You don’t know what’s going on in my life any more than I know what’s going on in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to slit our chests open and allow everyone we pass on the street to peer into our everything.

But a little compassion goes a long way. We’d do best not to judge the bigot, the hateful person, the naive child brainwashed and clueless to it.

They all have their stories. They all have their hurts and trials and successes. If they aren’t given a chance to wake up and better themselves, they’ll grow further into blindness and solidify the walls keeping them hard and untouched by others outside their own skin.

 

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We don’t choose how we grow up. As a young child, we can’t choose our nature or nurture, our atmosphere or experiences.

And the parents who “messed us up”? Their parents messed them up. Pain is a family disease, passed on from generation to generation. Ducklings, blind following the blind. No clue that their eyes are duct taped shut.

The only thing we can choose (and this one goes for the young as well as the old) is how we deal with what comes our way. We can choose our temperament. To become open-minded. To listen to others instead of coming up with ways to counter and win over or prove wrong what they’re saying once they’re finished speaking. We can choose to be optimistic, empathetic, courageous, and to never give up. Regardless of what or who life throws at us.

Because believe you me, life is going to throw some nastiness your way, some rock walls slick with the blood of the dead and conquered, that you then have to scale with bare hands. Gun to your head. Do it or die.

Life doesn’t play fair. You can.

That’s what life basically boils down to. A series of small choices every day, feeding each other until they form who we are, who we’re choosing (whether consciously or unconsciously) to become.

 

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We cannot see anything but what’s above water in people’s lives. There is much more happening in the moments and hours and days and years we are not privy to.

If there is a person in your life with a bad attitude or an obvious shrowd of ignorance, keep in mind they’ve probably been raised by someone with similar beliefs. Children are little more than brainwashed at the start. Little ducklings imprinting on whoever they are around and absorbing their beliefs, without realizing they’re doing it.

It takes a while for our brains to fully develop. For nature and nurture, environment and disposition, to allow us to “wake up” and become aware that there are other ways of living, believing, etc.

And if we choose someone unhealthy to be our role model, it becomes even harder to wake up.

This doesn’t have an age limit. Sometimes it takes people well into their fifties to realize that they’ve been living in the same unhealthy cycle of behaviors, habits, conditioned beliefs, and ways of living, that they were brought up in. And often times hated, proclaiming they’d never become their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. Denial is a powerful thing. So is imprinting. 

As children, we want to emulate our parents. We cannot outgrow that urge for their acceptance unless we are aware of what we’re doing.

 

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I’m not saying that people cannot outgrow their childhood. We absolutely can. That’s the whole point! But when did we feel safest? When did we feel it was okay to peel back layers of dead skin from around our throat and examine our behaviors and beliefs, and how we got them?

When do we feel it’s safe to analyze our life?

When we feel accepted, either by ourselves or others.

If someone is throwing stones at a person, they’re in defense mode. They’ve got no time to examine themselves. They’re too busy finding fault with their “attacker”, finding ways to destroy said attackers so they’ll be safe.

If we want to create an environment where people can “wake up”, where people can learn to see a little differently, to feel a little more widely, to open their hearts and minds to a wider picture understanding – then we need to be kind.

No one is going to pause in the middle of the battlefield to check to see what their feet are doing beneath the water they don’t even know they’re swimming in. They’re simply going to get on with it the only ways they know how and move forward. For better or for worse.

 

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We can grow, adapt, change. But not if we are choking on hateful backlash. We need to remember our own mistakes. Remember that we’re all human and we all deserve a chance.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to give people a free pass to treat you like their own personal mean girl assistant or doormat.

Having courage is different from beating someone down and standing on their throat.

By all means, put the powerful arrogant and joyfully cruel in their place. Just remember their place isn’t in a coffin, nailed shut while they’re still breathing. They can’t hang themselves with the scales of justice if we do not hand them the rope to do so. Fully hoping they use it to create a ladder upward and out of the mass grave they’re choosing to throw others into before falling victim to themselves.

 

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We’re all ugly little ducklings. Only, we get to choose who we become.

 

Sources

https://poultrykeeper.com/blog/imprinting-ducks-geese/

https://pethelpful.com/birds/Keeping-Pet-Ducks-and-Geese

 

4 Things I Know to be True

 

Take a vacation in depression. Don’t move in and live there.

 

Life doesn’t have a one size fits all path.

 

Adulting comes with instructions that don’t work.

 

Parenting is like putting together a puzzle with one piece missing.

 

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