February 22, 2012

Gratitude in UNexpected Places

My good friend Jen asked me to write a guest post about gratitude in unlikely places (here is the post).  I was thrilled and nervous.  Thank you analytical self for directing me towards the meaning and root of the word. Gratitude has so many synonyms: gratefulness, thankfulness, appreciation, acknowledgement, and credit. The words grace and gratitude share a common root, the Latin word gratus meaning, “pleasing” or “thankful”. It has been said when you are in a deep state of gratitude you will feel the presence of grace…powerful!

If you were to write a list of things you were grateful for what would that list look like? A year ago, my list consisted of happy moments such as my husband, children, family, and friends etc. maybe an occasional something that happened in my day.  I was deep in yoga training reading an assigned book when it broached the subject of gratitude. It spoke about the practice of gratitude whether the situation is positive or let’s just say negative for lack of a better word.  It sparked something deep within.  If I could cultivate gratitude for the happy moments could I cultivate gratitude for the challenging moments as well?  Find the light within the shadow. Let me be clear, I am not talking about pretending something is positive when it is indeed anything but. I am talking about the lesson (light) to be learned from the challenge.  Challenge is just another road to opportunity.

My youngest child and I were at a Doctor’s appointment to check her hearing for the 3rd time.  The kind lady at the front desk handed me a bill from the last visit. Never mind I was trying not to think (who am I kidding *worry*) about the test itself but now another costly bill.  Before I started my downward spiral, I made a conscious choice to practice gratitude.  Who wouldn’t be grateful for having an amazing Doctor who has been with us since day one, or for a child who sat on that exam table with a huge smile (a gift I am grateful for everyday).  That was the “easy” list now for the harder cultivation (practice)…I am so grateful for the money we put into savings to fix her teeth because even though its not her teeth, its available to us when we need it.  I am grateful for the stark realization that she may not be ignoring my words or not listening - she may truly not be able to hear me (insert tears for all the times I was irritated). What else have I been upset or mad about without thinking of the why (that’s a whole other post J)? At that very moment I softened to the process, to the moment, to life and what is in store for us.  She happened to be looking at a book about a clam and saw a pearl in the clam’s mouth.  She said, “Is that real?” It couldn’t have been more surreal: a piece of dirt trapped in a clam’s mouth and the clam turns an irritation into a beautiful pearl. Wow, does HE have good timing – a lesson I might not have caught had I been downward spiraling. I will admit I have an attraction to pearls and now every time I wear one let it be a reminder.

In my opinion, it is easy to cultivate gratitude for the happy moments.  It is less easy to cultivate gratitude in the challenging moments.  To pull our selves out of the drudgery of life and see the pearl emerge from irritation.  I have been working on celebrating my kid’s mistakes (knowing all the while this is the true teacher), the times they take risks (knowing this is what helps them build confidence and humility), and the challenges they face as just another opportunity to learn and grow. It is so hard.  I have found that by practicing gratitude in challenging times and sharing my discoveries with my family it has made the experience so much more profound than if I had preached it.  ( I heard someone say once stop preaching start communicating – ummmm brilliant!)

It has been a gift to share my words and thoughts with all of you lovely and amazingly strong people.  This community is like non other in uplifting and encouraging with kind and thoughtful comments.  Here’s to abundance and opportunity and the thank you’s along the way! From the deepest place in my heart smiles and gratitude!    

February 6, 2012

Operation Squelch Unworthiness

Unworthy much?

I am stunned at the amount of people who feel unworthy, less than.  When unworthiness rises in me like the flu I hadn't really considered how many other people it affects.  As I truly turn my listening ears on (if my mom"ness" hasn't made an appearance it has now...WOW) I am taken a back by endless tails of unworthiness.  It shocks me - actually it breaks my heart - more for others because I know the pain and how debilitating it can be.  I think if you had a support group for souls that feel unworthy you would fill multiple super bowl stadiums around the world.  When does this become part of who we are?  How do we break the cycle infusing compassion? I feel a fire deep within to make this my cause - to rid people of false senses of unworthiness.  Is cultivating compassion the way?

As I write this my heart aches with questions. It yearns for answers.  Tears sting my eyes - its hard to type.  I see it so clearly in the people that I love and I want to help, shout, shake the unworthiness out.  As I bring awareness to this pattern in me I notice that at times its so strong that it takes hold sucking the action right out of me.  Other times I am able to observe it and not give weight to it.  Christina Sell wrote..."‎"We may be faced with our own samskaras and patterns again and again and yet each time we circle back around with deeper awareness, clarity, compassion and self 
scrutiny, we get an opportunity to be different in relationship to what is arising."

Here's to deeper awareness, clarity, compassion and love for ourselves and for all beings. YOU ARE WORTHY! Seriously YOU ARE! 

This ad was paid for by the Michelle Norris campaign "Operation Squelch Unworthiness!"

February 1, 2012

The Squeegee Effect

I am sitting here blog hopping, eating oatmeal and drinking the very best cup of coffee!  How fabulously wonderful is my life.  I just finished teaching yoga at my girls elementary school for a program I started called Wellness Wednesday.  So I have to admit I am hopped up on the sweetness of elementary aged kids' wonderment and willingness to play, explore and laugh.  Such a reminder to be in the moment, laugh instead of get frustrated and explore new things with a smile. A very different place than the one I have been in...

Its been a rough couple of days of my heart being cloaked with some very solid film. I was in the shower getting ready for wellness wednesday when I noticed the shower had a combination of fog, soap scum, and some wear and tear.  Let's just say it has seen better days.  I had a thought that this is the kind of "stuff" that happens to my heart (stay with me I have a point).  Sometimes doubt, fear, lack and unworthiness creep into my thoughts covering my heart or true nature.  My body feels sore, worn and tired.  When I finished showering I reached for the squeegee and wiped all of the "stuff" off.  Clear light filtered in essentially making everything look a little brighter.

Our hearts get fogged, negative film develops and our outer shell feels wear and tear from living.  For me, self care in the form of meditation, asana (yoga poses) and rest are what help squeegee away the "stuff" and help bring clarity, light and renewal.  Sometimes it takes more than a squeegee - sometimes it needs a good scrubbing.  A cleaning of habitual patterns that no longer serve. A thorough inspection (introspection) of all the stuff that cloaks the heart or my true nature. Its time to start being comfortable with what arises sometimes pushing past the comfort zone and into the magical zone.

Think about the ways your heart or true nature become coated.  What helps squeegee away that stuff?  I would love to hear from you.