Archives for posts with tag: appreciation
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I am always in a rush to get to the end.  When I was a little girl, I sometimes used to read the last chapter in a book after the first chapter to see how it ended.  When I was in second grade, I sprinted to the finish line in all my classes – if I wasn’t trying to cross the finish line first in gym class, I was trying to complete my test the fastest in math class.
This very well formed and deeply imbedded habit has followed me from my childhood into my adulthood.  I find that it likes to skip alongside me, happy to come along for the walk, run or ride.  In some sense, it is endearing because it is doing none other than what I have trained it to do for all of these years – cheer me on to go faster, be better, move quicker and, ultimately, help me achieve my end. 
I am still learning the old idiom that life is about the journey, not the destination.  I believe that they can hold equal significance – getting to know someone and getting married to that special someone seems to me to be equally awesome, working hard to complete a project then finishing it feels equally rewarding and so on.  Nonetheless, I am trying to be a lot more appreciative of the journey itself, instead of completely focused on the destination. 
As most people know by now, I am on a quest to live a purposeful life.  I am absolutely, without-a-doubt certain that we all are living part of our purpose day-in and day-out.  When I wake up imbued with gratitude and wonderment about the day’s gifts and glories, I feel certain that I was meant to live this day and experience its magnificence.  When I look my Katie-dog in the eyes and tell her how much I love her and how much joy she brings to my life, I know wholeheartedly that we have been brought together for a reason.  When my 94-year old grandmother and I share stories about our faith in love and life, our bond becomes that much stronger.  Purpose, like beauty, love and joy, surrounds us everyday.  We just have to be receptive to it.
For me, I want to take my purposeful life one step farther into the realm of the work that I do.  I have been so lucky to have met so many people who do love their work – either they have built something from ground up or have pursued work that they really enjoy, including my mom, who spent 20 years working as a Social Worker.  While my mom’s work was hard, she loved it; in fact, she lived it.  Her work was an extension of who she is, and who she is was an extension of her work.  She found her calling.
Throughout my career, I have wanted to find my calling.  However, timing, finances and other things were just not aligned for me to make any big jumps.  Over the past decade, I think I am finally learning (thank goodness!) that change, progress, evolution takes time – certainly not a few days, not weeks, not even months sometimes.  Change needs to be cultivated in order for it to be enacted and maintained.  In order to embrace my own change, I am slowly but surely learning to:
Follow Yummy
I was talking to my girlfriend the other night about her relationship and where she wanted it to go.  As all of us girls do, she was getting wrapped up into the question of where the relationship was going.  Instead of enjoying what she has while she has it, she has been spending her time worrying, questioning, analyzing.  I am all too familiar with this territory and need to follow my own advice.  One of the reminders I have been giving myself is to follow yummy – try it on and see how it feels.  Does it feel nourishing? Do you feel good while you’re in it, and subsequently, when you walk away from it?  Does it feel rejuvenating?  At the end of the day, I want to be surrounded by people who make me feel loved, supported, cared for and nurtured by – the things that I do, the people I surround myself with, the things that I say should be used to build up, not knock down.  While you may have a distinct picture of what that final destination looks like, make sure that the trail that leads you to it feels yummy!
Detach From The Destination
This is the hardest one because the way we typically live our lives is with the destination in mind – know where you want to go, who you want to be and work backwards to fill in the blanks.  I am not saying to release focus on a final destination but be open if the clues you find along the trail of yummy leads you to a different destination.  We have so many different motivational drivers that perhaps we have convinced ourselves of wanting a specific outcome.  It is in our best interest to take the time and put in the effort needed to ensure that outcome is truly what we want and desire.  When focused on your final destination, don’t lose sight of what the clues are telling you.
Listen for Clues
As someone told me once, “Listen for God’s wings.”  I had no idea what that meant, and after asking, she explained that it meant that messages are everywhere.  Listen, look and you shall find.  Despite whether or not you believe in a higher being or the universe, inevitably, there are signs, symbols and subconscious that do lead us to moments of clarity and direction.  So be open and receptive to the clues around us to help us unfold our journeys.
I am very much still continuing along my journey.  I have devised a compass that is giving me a solid general direction.  I believe that through my journey, I will figure out the specifics.  The biggest tool that has helped me understand my general direction has been to find what’s yummy to me.  While my sidekick is still around telling me to forge ahead to the finish line, I am so much more excited to see what unfolds in the meantime.
With Love,

regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual.

I am in the middle of reading the book, ‘Anam Cara,’ meaning ‘Soul Friend.’  It is a book about Celtic culture, tradition and wisdom regarding life.  It examines the concept of the anam cara and how it is manifested in love, friendship, ourselves, old age and death. 
What strikes me the most is how Celtic tradition so easily integrated the anam cara into its heart and mind, almost as if the term ‘anam cara’ didn’t have to exist because it was a quality passed down through each generation as part of their collective unconscious.  The anam cara was a state of being, not doing. 
The anam cara not only flowed within the individual but also among the community to create a sense of unity, belonging and understanding.  The meaning is most definitely infused with divinity, grace and God, and you can think of it in these terms or in terms of compassion and love.  Either way, the anam cara was sacred to the point that rituals, prayers and even greetings recognized this in their expression.  For instance:

Regularly throughout the conversation in Gaelic, there is explicit recognition that the divine is present in others.  This presence is also recognized and embodied in old sayings such as, ‘the hand of the stranger is the hand of God.’

I am still making my way through the initial chapters, but the message has captivated me and is forcing me to rethink the way I view the world – the people in my life, the beauty that surrounds me, my environment, myself. 
It also made me recall memories from when I was working in Latin America.  Whether I was working in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia or Puerto Rico, everyone placed such an emphasis on the greeting.  In the morning, it was customary to go around and greet everyone in the office!  Depending on the country, we exchanged two kisses (one for each cheek) or even three.  My favorite person in Mexico would walk directly toward me, look me in the eyes and say, ‘Hello, my friend.’  When I left Latin America, I lost that.  I lost some of that sense of community belonging.  Sure, office politics and gossip had their place, too, but more often than not, we acted like a big family.
In my mind, the anam cara and its sanctity is another way to be grateful.  It helps me to recognize and, best of all, receive the many blessings and gifts that surround me.  The anam cara is something that I want to hold softly in my hands. 
With Love,
grat·i·tude:  the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

Who says that giving thanks should only be expressed on Thanksgiving?!   Everyday serves as a wonderful opportunity to realize the gifts that are being bestowed upon us.  While they may not have been asked for explicitly or even wanted initially, no matter what, every person, thought, decision and situation has the capability of teaching us something about ourselves and our world.  

Since 2013 rang in, I have been making it a point to write a daily Gratitude List in my e-journal.  I find that it provides a great reason to make space at the end of a day to reflect on what came into my life, and, if I can see them at that time, what lessons they served.  Be it big or small, significant or mundane, I write it down and appreciate it for what it is.

Below are are a few points that have helped me get my Gratitude List started and keep it going:
Make It Yours, Make It Yummy
First and foremost, this is YOUR Gratitude List.  It should serve no other purpose than to make you thankful for the comings and goings of your life.  If you are grateful for your daily dose of joe, then write it down… everyday!  I sometimes list ‘gratitude list’ on my Gratitude List 🙂  There is no impression to make, no judgment to be made because it is simply those things that you appreciate being part of your life. 

Size Doesn’t Matter
Write as many or as few things that you are grateful for that day.  Sometimes, my list is barely three lines because my eyes are barely open at the end of a long day.  It doesn’t matter!  The point is to make the space, take the breath and grab a moment of reflection before the day’s end.  No use carrying as much weight to bed – I know I’d rather end my day thinking about the meaningful things in my life, rather than the last conference call I took!  

Gratitude Isn’t Always Pleasurable
Pleasant people, things and events are no-brainers for the Gratitude List.  However, keep in mind that the nastiest snarls, most uncomfortable confrontations and craziest experiences can provide a meaningful dose of unexpected lessons learned for which to be grateful.  When I am faced with the unpleasant or uncomfortable, it really forces me to come to terms with something about myself – a re-defined boundary, a different reflection, a new desire.  Be open and aware of how the unpleasant can actually become the source of something positive.
Practice Makes Perfect
Soon enough, gratitude doesn’t only appear when you stop and think about it at the end of the day; gratitude will start to bubble up throughout the day.  Once practiced regularly, you become imbued with gratitude more instantaneously.  These days, I find myself giving preemptive thanks for everything from the food I am about to eat to the safe drive I am about to start.  Gratitude not only becomes a habit but also a manifestation.
What started as simply a means to create awareness and gratitude has evolved to manifest a much more purposeful life.  I have re-framed my life to be a series of gifts, or opportunities to learn.  Knowing that each person and situation is a teacher, I am more apt to slow down, listen and be grateful.  There is deliberation.  There is more meaning.  There is purpose.
With Love,