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! 🙂

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Uninspired, but Educated

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I’m not feeling well-inspired these days. Life’s been rough for weeks now.

It’s challenging to live with a chronic illness, as many that do, know so well. It robs you of your energy. It robs you of your abilities. It robs you of your freedom.

Yet, there are positive aspects to the experience of disease. It’s taught me about what’s really important in life. It’s taught me about gratitude. It’s taught me that even though I don’t have a post-secondary degree in anything, I still have much to offer.

One of the experiences RA disease is giving me is the opportunity to live in poverty. Living in poverty has forced me to reach out to agencies and groups in the community.

When I worked full-time, the network of community supports just wasn’t on my radar at all.

I had no idea that people on social assistance received $599 per month for housing and food and the people on disability received $1,064. Nor, did I know that the affordable housing wait-list is six years long and the majority of the food available at the food banks is either canned or packaged.

Living in poverty is an educational experience.

As well as being educational, it is giving me an opportunity to participate in community work and to develop skills in areas such as advocacy, public speaking and writing articles.

In addition, I’m learning about the various levels of governments and the procedures in which they operate.

I’m mostly involved with a group called, Awareness of Low Income Voices – ALIV(e). We have a website and a new blog.

ALIV(e) is a collaborative group of individuals dedicated to bringing an active and positive voice to individuals and families who are experiencing or who have experienced poverty level living in the Waterloo Region.

ALIV(e)’s goal is to educate the public about the impact of poverty on peoples’ lives, to inform the public about changes in policy as it applies to those who live at poverty level, and to share information on available resources that may not be well known to the general public.

On the blog’s “About” page we state;

Poverty (for the most part) is not a choice. Many of the people who live in poverty experience challenges and barriers that create obstacles to rise above their situations.

Societal attitudes, social policy issues and systematic barriers, as well as low wages, disabilities, psychological or emotional factors, illness, single-parent families are among the challenges faced by those who live in poverty.

My personal story is an example of how someone who once had a full-time job ended up in poverty through a debilitating illness.

Others end up in poverty due to mental health issues, undiagnosed learning disabilities, psychological and emotional disturbances or disability due to accident.

All want to work, but find it hard to do so without considerable outside supports which, by the way, are non-existent.

From time to time, I hear comments from those not living on social assistance. Some of the comments are things like; they’re lazy, they get “free money”, they’re ripping off the system, they’re deadbeats…

I have to say, this makes me sad.

The majority living on assistance are truly needy individuals who deal with significant challenges.

It’s equally sad to see that when governments have cuts to make, they tend to target the social assistance programs. Why? Because they can.

After all, it’s the poor. They have no high-powered lobby activists to make deals on their behalf. They have no bargaining power.

It seems, quite frankly, the poor don’t have rights.

It seems, they don’t have the right to live with dignity and respect. It seems, they don’t have the right to a hopeful future.

Poverty is growing in cities and rural areas all over the world. Yet, many of us want to ignore it because it doesn’t affect us. Many of us still have our jobs.

It is wonderful to have jobs and hopefully governments will help create more jobs. The more jobs, the better. But, let us not forget and leave behind those who deal with significant challenges and barriers to employment.

I urge people to look into the social assistance policies in their cities and countries to see if they will adequately meet the needs of one who is unable to work.

And if one is fortunate enough to “have it all covered”, maybe rallying around those who “don’t have it all covered” will be the push that governments need to create policies that provide adequate safety nets for those in need.

Please visit the ALIV(e) blog to read my article, “Exploring Social Welfare Abroad”.

Thank you very much for reading and leaving your comments. Wishing all a wonderful weekend!

Marianne changed her Profile

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Just thought I’d have a Facebook moment and let followers know that I’ve changed my profile script.

Since WordPress doesn’t make the announcement, it seemed like a good idea for a new post, but I could be wrong.

Here’s the new “About me” on my profile pic;

“He ain’t heavy; he’s my brother.” These lyrics are some of my all time favorite. When I was growing up, I used song lyrics to describe how I felt about my life. In my early teens, this inclination died and was no more. Many years later, every now and then, it returns…and I smile. The Meaning for My Life (formerly Grandeurvision) is about: Love, Life and Presence. Miracle Mama is about miracle stories to inspire a life free from doubt, fear and limited thinking. I write from my heart when I feel inspired to share something. Welcome, friends of the world.

So what do you think?

Inspired by a comment on my friend, Ken Wert’s blog, Meant to be Happy, the profile update is meant to help bring out the authentic voice that lives inside.

Ken wrote a blog titled, 5 Signs Personal Development Blogs Are Hurting Your Personal Development.

One of the comments mentioned the importance of learning to listen to our authentic voice stating that our authentic voice knows what is best and always speaks the truth.

I whole-heartedly agree and found myself thinking that sometimes the lines are blurred.

For instance, scientists prove that environment conditions an organism. Since we are organisms, this applies to us as well. We are conditioned from birth. (But, don’t believe me. Check out the data for yourself.)

I see from my own personal experience; this is true. Even though, I prided myself of being independent, I see where I took on the beliefs of my environment.

These weren’t my beliefs from my own authentic voice. They belonged to someone else.

Over the years, the authentic voice peeped out on occasion, but I was quite good at silencing it.

So — who is the I that did the silencing?

Ah ha!

I caught you!

I see who you are now.

You are the conditioned self. The persona the world sees. The one who judges, analyzes, compares, calculates, criticizes and protects.

The authentic voice knows truth and doesn’t have to analyze, compare, calculate, criticize or make up beliefs.

It just knows.

Have you ever had a knowing about something, that wasn’t backed up by a data calculation of your mind, and turned out to be true?

I love when this happens!

This is how I want to live every day, every moment.

I want an intimate relationship with my own authentic voice.

What about you: do the lines blur for you too? Do you sometimes silence your authentic voice? 

Learning about Love: Day 100 – I feel loved

The other day, my friend called. I was at home, ill with a nasty virus.

My friend commented about the way my voice sounded and asked if she could bring me some nice hot tea from Tim Horton’s. When I replied with, “thanks for the offer, but I’ll be fine”, she asked if I needed anything at the store.

My friend explained that she had to go to the grocery store for herself and then she thought she’d go through the Tim Horton’s drive-thru so it was no trouble for her to pick something up for me as well.

I hemmed and hawed thinking that I didn’t have any more than a few dollars of change in my purse. I was low on milk and would need some more for my tea, so I mentioned that I could use a small container of milk.

Then my friend asked if I would like a bagel or a biscuit. “Can I bring you a sandwich?” she asked. “What kind would you like?

I hesitated and I hesitated. I could tell my friend was concerned about making sure I was eating while nursing the cold virus, but I didn’t want to impose.

Embracing help when it’s offered is something I’m learning slowly.

“Would you like turkey?” my friend asked.

I told her I liked the new turkey Panini. She said she’d stop by in an hour.

When my friend arrived, she handed me a large container of milk, a large cup of tea, a turkey Panini sandwich and a chocolate chip happy face cookie.

As I walked back to my apartment with my hands full of blessings, a warm fuzzy feeling welled up inside.

It was the best tasting turkey sandwich I’ve had.

Later that evening, I called my friend to tell her that I felt so loved by her care and thanked her for our friendship.

I learned that receiving love is just as important as giving love.

This post marks the end of my 100-day learning about love challenge. Much like my 100-day gratitude challenge, I feel like a different person to the one who began the challenge.

The insights and shifts I’ve experienced is phenomenal. I’d like to share them with you over the next few weeks or so.

Thank you for following along and for your comments. I’ve been really busy with so much going on and haven’t been able to keep up with blogging activities as much as I’d like to.

Wishing all a wonderful week.

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 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 42

Sunbeam on the river

Today marks the forty-second day into my 100-day learning about love challenge and I wonder if I’ve learned anything about love so far.

I seemed to have had a preconceived notion that a 100-day love challenge would help me to feel loving and blissful 24/7. I think I failed miserably.

My mind seems to take me out more often these days. My mind wants to talk about how I’m not having much success with health, career and finances.

I hold onto the thoughts. I ruminate over them. I see the evidence staring back.

I declare, “Never mind. It doesn’t matter. Only love matters.”

I am resisting. I am impatient.

“What you resist; persists.”

Go with the flow.

I forgot to embrace the crap.

Embrace impatience. Embrace resistance.

Find the sacred in the struggle. Love will appear.

Thank Good.  Go with the flow and breath.

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Hello to new followers and Facebook friends. I appreciate your support very much.  Wishing all an embracing day.