Saturday, May 27, 2017

An incomplete thank you for the miracles of the world

On this day as I begin my second year of gratitude practice, I give thanks for where I am and where Ive been and hope this poem makes up for some of the moments of gratitude Ive missed along the way.

for all the people I never thanked:


the authors, teachers, artists, carpenters,


the fighters of fires, the doctors of disease,

those who built the roads through the mountains and deserts,

those who grew the vegetables and fruits for my table,

all the meals and makers-of-meals who went unblessed,

all the garments and sewers and sellers of them 
that kept me dressed,

and the thousands, millions, of other unthanked souls

who have made my life possible, made it a joy.


for all the beauty I forgot to acknowledge:


the mountains, meadows, moonglows and manatees,

the soft summer days, the snow-covered pines,

the cactus blossoms of spring, the yellow aspens of fall,

all the trees I never thanked for my breath,

all the clouds I never thanked for their beckonings,

all the rocks I never thanked for their stories,

all the rivers and lakes, puddles and ponds,

the oceans of water that refreshed my days,

never once asking for my thanks.



for all the people who made me laugh or cry:

the jokesters, writers, actors, makers of movies,
the merry whistlers and designers of Tilt-a-Whirls,

all you bubbling fountains of mirth and magic
who brought forth giggles and guffaws, chuckles and chortles,
tears and torment, glimpses into alien worlds and other hearts,
graciously accepting my laughter and tears as thanks enough.



to all of you ... friends and family,


those recognized and total strangers,

finally and utterly incompletely,
thanks. ... Thanks! ... Thank YOU!

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Saunter into the world

Suggestion from Gratitude Miracles journal*, Cycle 8: Peace & Contentment:

Mick Ukleja at LeadershipTraq.com suggests that you "Saunter into your day.  The word saunter comes from the Middle Ages. Everything was considered sainted, including the earth - St. Terre. Therefore, to saunter is to walk on the earth with reverence for its holiness."

Take time to enter your day slowly and with reverence.

*Gratitude Miracles journal is available at amazon.com

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Ordinary miracles and living in creative space


Bullishly Blue - International art connections - see below
Since I started working with the Gratitude Miracles journal, I’ve become more aware of ordinary miracles. I note them in the journal and every week a few turn up. Most of them have indeed been ordinary even though unexpected and delightful … a visit with a friend, a new idea or opportunity, a kind comment. 

None of them have been more ordinary than the chair I bought earlier this week at the Salvation Army Thrift Store. My last move left me without a comfy chair. I thought I could make do with the couch. I thought that for a year and a half before deciding I truly needed a good chair, a recliner. It had a few constraints: cloth not leather, small enough for me to lift it, plain color - blue or wine, and in reasonably good condition.
 
I’ve been checking Craigslist and local thrift stores, becoming more and more discouraged, to the point where I wondered if I would have to buy something new. So, it was a surprise when I found the almost perfect chair, at a thrift store that I almost never go to, and also on sale. I didn’t even count this chair as a miracle. It was just something I wanted and finally found.

The miracle happened when I moved the furniture around in the living room to make way for the new chair. Something happened. It’s like the room woke up and said, “Ta da!” 

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a designer living room. It’s a motley assortment of mis-matched items from various thrift stores since I sold all my furniture before my last move. But, when all the pieces were back in place, … I don’t know how else to say it … it turned into sacred space. It made my heart sing. It made me think of the space and all the surfaces in it as altars … altars to spirit, to creativity, to life.

Several years ago, I saw the movie, Words and Pictures, about two high school teachers: one art, one English. The art teacher suffers from rheumatoid arthritis and lives in her studio. The movie is good, but I was captivated by the idea of living in an art studio. Of course, my art is digital so it wouldn’t have all the wonderful paints and brushes and canvases and so on that make a painter’s studio so wonderful. My art studio would look more like living in an iMac.

Now, however, I feel like I am living in a studio. It is alive with art and color and books and the projects I’m working on. I’ve spent the last couple of days cleaning and rearranging, honoring the space as sacred, honoring the miracle of creativity and life, honoring the dance of gratitude and miracles. 
International Art Connection:  Somewhere in San Miguel de Allende, there is a wall artist who painted this picture ... the bull, not the cars

I think we must be kindred spirits. This bull spoke to me, invited me to play. Today, sitting in my new space, my new studio, we did, indeed, play.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Daily Gratitudes: Attention

Day 25/365: I am grateful for the cycle of life that is beautiful in birth and in death, in ascendance and decline.

This image was prompted by the quote of poet Jane Hirshfield, "Zen pretty much comes down to three things: everything changes, everything is connected, pay attention."

I like simple things I can remember, and particularly commands that you instantly understand but can take a lifetime to master. It seems appropriate to pay a little more attention to "attention." So a few more quotes.

"When you approach something to photograph it, 
first be still with yourself 
until the object of your attention affirms your presence. 
Then don't leave until you have captured its essence."
  -- Minor White

"I think the one lesson I have learned is 
that there is no substitute for paying attention." 
 -- Diane Sawyer

"The only factor becoming scarce in a world of abundance 
is human attention." 
-- Kevin Kelly, editor "Wired"

"There is a spiritual basis to attention, 
a humility in waiting upon the emergence 
of pattern from experience."  
-- Mary Catherine Bateson, from Peripheral Vision

"Love begins with paying attention to others, 
with an act of gracious self-forgetting."-- John O'Donohue, Anam Cara


Monday, October 24, 2016

The Role of Gratitude in Making Meetings Work Better

One of the miracles from this journey into gratitude has been meeting Steve Foran, a Canadian businessman who calls himself a grateful CEO and integrates gratitude into his daily life, at home, at work, everywhere.

In addition to teaching Business Ethics and writing extensively on the subject of gratitude, Steve helps leaders build teams that are resilient and effective through a process he calls StatusGRO(TM). Steve told me a story about using gratitude in meetings and I thought it deserved to be shared.

From Steve:  Over the last 29 years I’ve seen a lot of meetings, both good ones and bad ones. Some I’ve chaired, some I’ve sat through, some I wished I was golfing, some were all over the place, and some were … all of the above.

While there isn’t a common element to what worked or what didn’t work, there’s a technique I started a few years back whenever I chair a meeting and it has a powerful impact on the discussion that follows.

Begin by sharing one gratitude.

At the outset of the meeting, I simply say, “Before we get into the agenda, let’s go around the table and share one thing we’re grateful for. It can be from here at work or from your personal life… whatever you want.” And then I start off with my gratitude first.

It has proven to be a simple and extremely effective way to create the right atmosphere for an effective discussion.

A few years back I was chairing a special meeting of a voluntary board and we were about to discuss and make a decision on what was shaping up to be a very divisive issue. While there were many contributing factors to the divisiveness (such as organizational leadership, communication, resistance to change, and fear of the unknown, differing levels of knowledge regarding the issue at hand), our task at the meeting required us to come together, listen to the respective viewpoints, make a very important decision and be unified in carrying that decision forward.

The subject area for the crunch discussion was foreign to me but I had been having great success in starting meetings by sharing gratitudes and decided that’s how we would start the meeting. There was some initial skepticism because people wanted to get straight to the issue and not waste time. With close to 30 people in the room, it took more than 10 minutes to go around the table.

By the end of the gratitude sharing, the temperature in the room had shifted. As the evening unfolded, there were some heated debates, but the tone was respectful. We had some people who repeated their points because they didn’t feel heard, but it didn’t happen as often as usual. There were some diversions away from the main issues, but, for the most part, the conversation remained focused. At the end of the evening, we made our decision and people felt good about it. It might have been the best 10 minutes we invested into preparing for a meeting.

Two days later I received a phone call from a volunteer at the center of the issue being discussed. He said, “Steve I’ve been doing this work for more than 40 years. In my entire career, I’ve never seen such a change in attitude in such a short period of time. As people started arriving and talking before the meeting, you could feel the tensions rising. But that gratitude exercise you had us do was masterful.”

I highly recommend using this technique at your next meeting. It works regardless of the setting… at work, in the community, at home. If you don’t get the miraculous results you hoped for the first time, don’t give up. Give people time to get used to it because right now, not many meetings start this way. You can change that. 

A great way to stay focused on your own gratitudes is to subscribe to Steve's daily gratitude posts ... his own and from guests. Subscribe here to receive them directly. And, you can check out StatusGRO(tm) here.

 


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Journal Cycle 3: Better Relationships

Gratitude Miracles ... the 5-minute journal that could change everything! is organized into 13 4-week cycles to give you plenty of time to maximize the results of the practice.

Each cycle begins with a short snippet about the featured benefit of that cycle. This is the snippet for Cycle 3: Better Relationships.

A new study shows that feelings of gratitude were the most consistent predictor of marital quality among couples of all ages and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Couples who are more grateful for one another report being closer, more committed, and having greater mutual relationship satisfaction.

Maria Hillel says that the benefits of greater gratitude within relationships include:
“You can more easily accept others and yourself. We are all imperfect people seeking the best possible life. There is no reason not to be friends. 
“You no longer take anything personally. Life presents difficult challenges for everyone; it’s not just about you.”  
Special Thanks to:
 

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Daily Gratitude: Beginnings

Day 24/365: I am grateful to live in a world where we can always begin again, start over, have a second chance.

Several years ago, I participated in an intuitive painting workshop that pushed all my buttons and set my insecurities ringing. After a great deal of frustration and tears, I made a breakthrough ... not particularly in the quality of my art, but in the way I thought about it and myself.

It prompted the following poem:




Begin Again

I stand at an expanse of white paper.
  Fears rise like a rush of ravens cawing
  my inadequacies to an indifferent world.
  “Begin!” I cry above their screechings.

I throw paint — fuchsia, chartreuse, deep purple.
   Hope for a miracle slowly sinks into gloom
   as the Muse rejects my careless offering.
   “Begin again!” she commands.

I craft a lofty scene filled with symbol and sign.
   Color and context weave an eye-pleasing cry
   for approval and recognition that does not come.
   “Begin again,” the Muse repeats.

I wildly cover the space with scribble and daub.
   Then, lost on the page, I stand frozen in fear,
   a hollow husk with no place to hide.
   “Begin again,” she whispers.

I stand — waiting, listening, attending.
   A feeling guides me to a land timeless and unplanned.
   Brush, color and hand create in unjudged harmony.
   I am awake, alive, vision vibrating through me.

Softly the Muse just repeats, “Begin again.”