100-day Gratitude Challenge 2015

The 100-day gratitude challenge is continuing into 2015 at miraclemama.com where I’m posting regular updates for now. I have re-posted today’s entry here. For previous and ongoing posts check out miraclemama.com.

Original posted at miraclemama.com

Gratitude Challenge 2015: What’s in your Heart?
Gratitude

A favourite quote of mine is from a commencement address given by Jim Carrey at the 2014 MUM Graduation.

“The effect you have on others is the most valuable currency there is. Because everything you gain in life will rot and fall apart and all that will be left of you is what was in your heart.” ~ Excerpt from Jim Carrey 2014 MUM commencement address.

I realized the truth of these words in 2011 when I ended up in the hospital emergency department as I share in the story, “In the End, Only Love Matters.”

The practice of gratitude will open your heart and the more you practice the better you will feel and the deeper you will feel love.

Related articles ♦ 100-Day Gratitude Challenge, Get Out of Your Head and into Your Heart

Thanks for reading and sharing! Wishing you an awesome day! 🙂

#my3thanks

Gratitude Campaign Badge
USC’s Gratitude Campaign

When I checked my email the other day, I was surprised and happy to see an email from the community manager at USC School of Social Work with an invitation to their Gratitude Blog Carnival.

I was surprised that they had found my 100-Day Gratitude Challenge and happy to receive an invitation to write a blog post on gratitude thus pulling me out of hibernation to add one more post to this blog before another year comes to an end.

So—here are the three things I’m grateful for in 2013; family, friends and community.

Sometimes we don’t realize how important family is until a major challenge occurs. I feel very grateful and blessed to have a family that is there for me, no matter what.

Some of you know from my blog posts about the challenges I face living with the debilitating chronic illness of RA. Not only is RA physically devastating, it can have devastating emotional, social, mental and financial consequences as well.

If it were not for my family, I don’t know where I would be. I love my family so much that I want to hug each and every one of them every day.

It’s easy to take family for granted or harbor resentments and ill-feelings when we are caught up in our day-to-day tales of survival. Sometimes it takes a shock to wake us up to the fact that, “In the End, Only Love Matters. ”

But, it doesn’t have to be that way. With a little effort, we can choose to wake up through the daily practice of gratitude.

Next to family, there is nothing more important than kind, loving and supportive friends. I am so very blessed to have friends of this caliber.

As with my family, I don’t know where I would be without my friends. Friends who go above and beyond the call of duty, who show up every time you need help without having to call to ask because they just somehow seem to know when to show up.

Sometimes friends are all a person has. Maybe their family is gone or not available for some reason. Friends become a major importance in these circumstances because everyone needs somebody to be there for them.

I cannot tell you how often I give thanks for my friends.

Community work is a world all of its own that has entered my life during the last two years. There is a different energy in community work than what I am use to in the “business world”.  Community is about collaboration and win-win scenarios, at least that is my experience thus far.

I like the idea of working together for the common good of all people that includes treating the environment and people with kindness, respect and dignity. Surely one day we will figure out on a grand scale how to meld business and community through new models of business so that no one is left behind and each one of us has an opportunity to achieve our full potential.

Through community involvement I feel so very grateful to meet incredibly creative, talented and energetic individuals who never cease to amaze me. There is so much good going on in the world when you stop to take a look. Awesome People Doing Amazing Things for their communities and our world.

I feel blessed to be a part of a great community where wonderful things are happening.

What three things are you grateful for in 2013?

As always, thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. I appreciate your time and feel honored that you visited my blog.

Much love to all.

Five months later….

Can you see two teeny tiny brown specs on the grass by the first tree? A pair of sweet little rabbits.

Can you see the teeny tiny brown spec on the grass by the first tree? A pair of sweet little rabbits.

So here it is, the month of July already, five months since my last post where I left you hanging at my review of chapter six of  the book, Clean – Remove, Restore, Rejuvenate by Alejandro Junger, M.D.

Much has happened since the winter. You as well?

At first, I thought I’d write about what happened during my unannounced blogging break, then I decided not to. I realized that I’d be writing about things I don’t necessarily want to remember.

I’ll just say, I’ve had my challenges (physically and financially).

Who was it that said, “What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.”

Since I’m still motoring along, I must be stronger.

Time will be the teller.

Some of you know I have another blog, Miracle Mama, where I inspire uplifted thought through the sharing of  miracle stories, inspirational interviews, products and services.

Over the next several months, I’ll be implementing new ideas to grow and expand the site.

If you know any miracle stories or have experienced something you want to share (maybe something uplifting or helpful to others) please contact me via email. I would love to hear from you!

I hope all is well with everyone. I’ll be around to see what you are up to soon.

Hopefully, you will come to visit me at Miracle Mama for now.  🙂

Learning about Love: Day 84 – A Hole in my Heart

An empty bench by the river.

A twinge of loneliness came to visit today. An empty feeling in the pit of my stomach emerged and I knew it wasn’t hunger; at least, not the hungry for food kind.

The lyrics of a song came to mind: “Another Saturday night and I ain’t got nobody.”

I sighed thinking how lovely it would be to have a special someone in my life. Someone to go on outings with. Someone to have fun with. Someone with whom I really clicked.

When it comes to men, I haven’t had much luck.

Relationships have always been a challenge for me, as was choosing a good man. I had good men interested in me. I just wasn’t interested in them.

I took on the challenges; the ones that needed my help.

When it came to relationships, I lost myself.

In hindsight, I think I lost myself in relationships just like I lost myself in cigarettes and alcohol. All of these things served as a diversion. Although I wasn’t consciously aware of this at the time.

Cigarettes, alcohol and needy relationships distracted me from the hole in my heart. A hole that began very early in life. A hole that was passed down. A hole that didn’t belong to me, but that I took on anyway because I was too young to know it wasn’t mine.

My story is not a new one. It happens all the time in society. Everywhere one looks, one can see someone putting their crap on someone else.

We do it unconsciously and we do it habitually.

In learning about love, one can wake up to recognize unconscious behavior, beliefs and attitudes.

I learned that the hole in my heart is the love and compassion I didn’t have for myself. It was the missing lesson in early life that begged for attention until I was ready to hear.

I’m listening now.

Learning about Love: Day 48 – Teachings from the Dalai Lama

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings togeth...

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama brings together Buddhists and Western scientists every two years. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently, I felt drawn to study teachings from His Holiness the  Dalai Lama. While I am still in the early stages of study, I felt called to share what I’ve learned thus far.

According to the Dalai Lama, the purpose of life is to be happy and the way to achieve happiness is through mental peace. His Holiness states,

“From my own limited experience, I have found that the greatest degree of inner tranquility comes from the development of love and compassion.”

So − how do we develop love and compassion and what are the benefits?

“The more we care for the happiness of others, the greater our own sense of well-being becomes. Cultivating a close, warm-hearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. This helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the ultimate source of success in life.”

Why does love and compassion bring happiness?

“Ultimately, the reason why love and compassion bring the greatest happiness is simply that our nature cherishes them above all else. The need for love lies at the very foundation of human existence. It results from the profound interdependence we all share with one another. However capable and skillful an individual may be, left alone, he or she will not survive. However vigorous and independent one may feel during the most prosperous periods of life, when one is sick or very young or very old, one must depend on the support of others.”

The Dalai Lama further explains that interdependence is a fundamental law of nature.  He mentions that the smallest insects are social beings who survive through mutual cooperation innately knowing they are interconnected.

In fact; oceans, forests, clouds, and flowers, arise because of the interaction of subtle energy patterns.

“It is because our own human existence is so dependent on the help of others that our need for love lies at the very foundation of our existence.”

The Tibetan teacher points out;

“If the child is not held, hugged, cuddled, or loved, its development will be impaired and its brain will not mature properly.”

He observes and surmises;

“Nowadays, many children grow up in unhappy homes. If they do not receive proper affection, in later life they will rarely love their parents and, not infrequently, will find it hard to love others.”

And, the conclusion is;

“the affection and respect of others are vital for our happiness.”

But it doesn’t end here. Part two will follow next post.

Source:  His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet website.

Learning about Love: Day 43

Pink (blurry) flower.

I love having blog-neighbours! Each one of you elevates me with your beautiful inspiring comments. I feel much better today. Thank you all.

I think I see how I got off track over the last while.

First off, my focus shifted. Activities I really like to do and that energize me took a back seat to activities that drain me and that I don’t like all that much.  I moved away from the path that makes me the happiest.

Second, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I let negative thoughts about my life affect my feelings. Thoughts such as, “My life should be better than it is. I should have a successful career by now. Everyone zooms past me. I shouldn’t have to live below the poverty level. I should have better health by now. My life’s been the same forever. Will I ever “make it”?”

Waaah. Waaah. Waaah. Whew! It’s exhausting! The mind is so funny.

I think I hear Byron Katie utter, “Can you find a stress-free reason to keep those thoughts?”

“No, Katie,  I don’t think I can.”

In response to Linda Willows comment on yesterday’s post, I wrote, “When I look back over my entire life, I realize that on one level, not much has changed. Although I live my life in a more conscious way now, sometimes I feel that I’m just doing the same things only with more awareness. The actual state or external conditions of my life is exactly as they were all those years ago. Sometimes, I wonder about fate. Could it really be possible that we choose our life before birth. I wonder what others think about this.”

Fate? Destiny? Could this be the mind’s attempt to explain why I’m not where I think I should be.

Later, I went to visit Cathy at Treatment Talk. Her post, 25 Quotes From Cheryl Strayed, Author of “Wild”, got me thinking that maybe my external life hasn’t changed much because I haven’t challenged myself enough.  Maybe I need to do something way way outside my comfort zone. I don’t know. I think it’s worth pondering.

Cheryl Strayed, hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, alone. Cathy’s daughter ventured to a wilderness camp and spent one of the night’s in the wilderness. All. By. Herself.  Wow!

What do you think? Does your life change much? Have you done anything that’s way outside your comfort zone? Any thoughts on fate? Destiny?

Learning about Love: Day 14

In nature.

“Happiness is when I am loving!” ˜ Lester Levenson (1909 – 1994)

This is another story that some of my blog readers may already be familiar with as I wrote about Lester Levenson in an article I posted on my other blog, Miracle Mama.

Lester experienced a serious heart attack when he was forty-two years old. The doctor’s told him there was nothing they could do for him and sent him home with advice telling him not to exert himself. By my calculations that would have occurred in 1951.

Deeply depressed, Lester thought about ending his life. Thankfully, he began to contemplate the meaning of his life. Lester wondered, “What is happiness?”

He pondered all of his past relationships and incidents where he was happy and it dawned on him, “Happiness is when I am loving!”

Lester noticed that when he was unhappy he felt a lack of love and expected others to make him feel happy and loved.

During his contemplations he noticed times when he felt hate toward others. Lester wondered if he could turn this hate into love toward the other, not for the other, but for himself.

Over the course of a few months, Lester dissolved all of the hate and negativity he harbored from past scenarios. He worked at dissolving all of his resentments and hurt feelings.

He worked through his entire life bit by bit and as he did he became stronger and stronger, happier and happier.

Within three months, Lester had released so much of his negativity that he experienced a blissful state of joy that made him feel light and everything became extremely beautiful.

Lester continued to work with the blissful state until he fell into a state of undisturbed stillness and quietness where he found the essence of every living thing − Beingness. “Everything was It; every person was It.”

Lester’s story (click here to read) is so much in line with Anita Moorjani’s near death experience (click here to read) and so many other stories that have crossed my path.  It’s hard to ignore their experiences.

Do you know of stories like Lester’s and Anita’s? Do you experience or has anyone you know experienced the state of Beingness as described by Lester and Anita?

Information update:  I’ll be taking a short break from the blogosphere for a few days to focus on my spiritual practice, health and catch up on some work.Will let you know how thing go when I get back later in the week. Thank you so much for accompanying me on this journey to learn about love. I really appreciate it! Wishing you a wonderful love-filled week.