Attitude of Gratitude

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I love how some people list their blessings every day in November. I am not that disciplined, but I love that some people are. I like to read about what makes them thankful.

Thanksgiving is great time to be thankful...I mean maybe not if you are Native American. I am just saying it is something we need to be cognizant of when we celebrate this holiday. It isn't all warm and fuzzy. 

But I digress, we are talking about gratitude today.

I do like the idea of reflecting on your blessings at the end of the year. A time to take inventory. I especially like to do this with children before they get a crap ton of stuff for the holidays. I want them to have some perspective.

The other day I definitely told my children how other children in the world (and in our own country...our own state, heck in our own town) live much different, much harder lives. There was even some talk about children in diamond mines. I know, I know... it wasn't my proudest moment. I don't want to shame my children into being grateful.

It is a balance of learning about perspective, privilege, and place. This lessons are best taught with love (not shame or anger). 

And if I am being honest, I don't always feel grateful or thankful. I can get hung up on the things I don't have, the moments in life that aren't great, and the sadness and crappy parts of humanity. That is human nature. 

When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
— Willie Nelson
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And let's be real, you can't talk about being grateful without talking Oprah. She DID tell us about writing in a gratitude journal all those years ago. 

I live in the space of thankfulness — and for that, I have been rewarded a million times over. I started out giving thanks for small things, and the more thankful I became, the more my bounty increased. That’s because — for sure — what you focus on expands. When you focus on the goodness in life, you create more of it.
— Oprah Winfrey

I want some of that...I want to focus on the small things, I want to have a space of thankfulness. And I want it for our kids as well. So here are a few things to get us in the practice of being grateful. 

Nurturing an Attitude of Gratitude

Name your blessings.

One thing that we do in our family (some times...not all the time) is that we do "Highs, Lows, and Weirds." You tell the best part of your day, the worst part of your day, and the part that was cuckoo. My sons class does a variation of this called "Cherries and Pits." It is a great way to get some perspective. Sometimes you feel like "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." However, sometimes it is just how you look at the world.

Read Books

C'mon, isn't that the answer for most things? Reading a book? Reading is a great way to broaden your perspective and to challenge privilege, and to explore place. Books allow you to enter other realities that are not your own. You get to view the world just a little differently. 

Being Thankful is a simple book by Mercer Mayer about being grateful and it is good for younger children. But there are lots of books about gratitude for all ages of children. Go to your local library or bookstore. They are the experts. They are definitely some people to be thankful for. 

Get Crafty

Make a gratitude tree or start a gratitude jar. Both a gratitude tree and a gratitude jars provide ways to develop habits of being both mindful and grateful. And these are tangible physical reminders of what you are thankful for. Plus, the act of making the craft allows the opportunity to make memories about just being together creating. Kids just want to be with you. 

Being Mindful

Spend time with your kids and be mindful of your time with them. My kids straight call me out. "Mom, you are on your phone." "Mom, you just said 'mmm hmmm' so you aren't really listening." Brutal, but good reminders. Let's keep each other accountable. 

This time is fleeting...it doesn't matter if your kids are 2 or 42...this time is going fast and it won't come again. The things that matter are our relationships. Model a grateful heart and spend time with you who you are most grateful for. 

Slow down enjoy your time together, talk, go for a walk, or whatever is "you." Point out the blessings. Hold their hand. Listen to what their are thankful for. 

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For more in depth discussions about gratitude and children check here and here.

And since Advent starts soon (Sunday, December 3, 2017) here is a great resource to continue the attitude of gratitude for the rest of the year ( you don't have to observe Advent to get a lot out of this exercise). It is called the Advent of Gratitude and the concept is this..."Most Advent Calendars present us with a gift each day leading up to Christmas. The purpose of this Advent of Gratitude is to remind us of the gifts we already have, what we often take for granted, what we can and should be grateful for." This calendar lists things to be thankful for and then suggests donating a certain dollar amount to a local charity. The Advent of Gratitude has a community on Facebook if you'd like to learn more. 

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Look for the blessings. Embrace a more grateful heart. And I will see you soon!

 

 

 

Doing Your Job

Our kids are obsessed with my job, or lack thereof. I have been a full time stay at home mom for three years (this month actually). My son barely remembers me working outside of the home and my daughter only has memories of me being with her. And yet she is skeptical that this is what I do. So anytime I do ANYTHING for anyone...freelance work, volunteer work, blogging...she exclaims "I KNEW you didn't just watch us." Well, BTW I don't just "watch" them. But that is a tangent for another day. My main job (along with my husband) is raising kind, funny, and creative kids. Everything else is just gravy. 

Spread it

Spread it

Today I am going to go thank my doctor and the nurses, CNAs, and whoever else works on the floor I was on in the hospital almost 2 1/2 months ago. I feel bad it has taken me so long, but I am superstitious so I waited until I was 100% in the clear (and also I am a procrastinator). But yesterday I went to a couple of grocery stores and I filled up on snacks for the hospital staff. I mean, who doesn't like snacks? Weirdos, that is who. 

Why should I thank these people who are getting paid to do their job? Because it is the nice thing to do, it is part of being a polite society, and it will make them feel appreciated. Who doesn't want to feel appreciated? Probably those weirdos again.  

I come from a family of nurses...it can be pretty hard work...especially if you work with patient care. I was on the Cancer floor when I was in the hospital. I didn't have cancer...not a day goes by that I don't think about that and how lucky I am. I don't have cancer. I didn't have cancer. I am fine. But healthcare providers work with people that have cancer, that have other horrible diseases, or injuries, or a million other things that can send you to the hospital. That is a hard job...no matter how much you get paid.

Sure there can be some crappy nurses and jerky doctors out there...they are people and some people suck. But I am just going to say from the moment I was admitted into the hospital until the time I was released I had the pleasure to be with some people who really kicked ass at their job. They do hard and dirty work and they don't get a lot of appreciation. Not that people who are there are rude...when you don't feel well you can unintentionally be less than pleasant. It isn't your fault and it isn't the nurses' fault...it just is. So if I can help spread some kindness, why wouldn't I jump at the chance? 

As a country we have had a lot of conversations about healthcare. Don't think healthcare matters? Try paying for your medical bills on your own if God forbid something happened to you or someone you love. My hospital bill alone would have put us in serious financial trouble if we didn't have insurance. And still we will be paying for the care I had for awhile and we are one of the lucky ones...we have good coverage. Yes, the current healthcare system isn't perfect, but all people deserve care...whether or not they can afford it. 

We are called to take care of one another...by God, if your faith allows...if not, then I don't judge, but you are still called to look after your brothers and sisters because we share this world together. Remember how we are all apart of the universe? We share this space and time together. We are connected. We are family. So what do you do in a family? You take care of each other. 

Once upon a time I did have a career. I worked at a church for almost 15 years, and 10 of those years I was a minister. One of my favorite scriptures and the one I use as my moral guide is in Matthew (New Testament...duh).

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat,
I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink,
I was a stranger and you invited me in,
I needed clothes and you clothed me,
I was sick and you looked after me,
I was in prison and you came to visit me.

“Then the righteous will answer him,
‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you,
or thirsty and give you something to drink?
When did we see you a stranger and invite you in,
or needing clothes and clothe you?
When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply,
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine,
you did for me.’
— Matthew 25:35-40 New International Version (NIV) BIble

 

Well, nurses/CNAs/various other healthcare professionals spend their life taking care of us. If you have never been in a hospital let me just tell you they do a bunch of stuff that I wouldn't/couldn't do for any amount of money. They are with people during their most vulnerable times...even if you are in the hospital for something happy like a baby...it is still a hard/gross/demanding job. On top of it they see illness and death daily...and they help the patients' family as well. So even though they get paid...they still need to be told how much they are appreciated.

Loaded Up

Loaded Up

Well, you or your loved ones don't have to be hospitalized to be thankful. You can reach out to whoever you see that may need a little sunshine. Do you want to put together a "thank you" or a care package for someone too?

Here are some tips...

  • Find a container.- I love a good wicker/wood/metal basket, but since these particular "bucket of treats" are going to a group of people I didn't want them to fight...that could get ugly, plus the deep plastic bins hold a ton of things. 
  • Pick Out the Fixings.-Since this going to a variety of people that I don't know I just got a ton different things. Salty, sweet, healthy, junky...all of it. I tried to find things that were either individually wrapped, could be resealed, or that were large enough to share. 
  • Merchandise.-Put the big and/or heavy things on the bottom and pack things around the base and then layer smaller and fragile things on top. Try to fan stuff out and make it look nice. But since this is jammed packed with food items...I focused more on function over form. 
  • Add a Card.-Just make sure you include a note of gratitude. 

Find someone to be thankful for this weekend and maybe put together a little care package of your own to share. 

Have a great weekend!