Archive for September, 2013

Five Ways to Celebrate World Gratitude Day

September 21st, 2013 | 5 comments

Whatever our individual troubles and challenges may be, it’s important to pause every now and then to appreciate all that we have, on every level.  ~Shakti Gawain~

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for. ~Epicurus~

Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.

Today is World Gratitude Day.  First celebrated  in 1965, it was later officially adopted by the United Nations Meditation Group and is recognized each year as a day to show appreciation for all things, big and small. So, of course, this JOLT girl had to jump in with my two cents, and some helpful suggestions  on how you can celebrate the day.  Living a grateful life is like any other habit.  It takes time to cultivate positive actions and attitudes into our daily lives.  But, with commitment, you wake up one morning and realize that you see all the good around you. It’s all in how you choose to look at your life. Here’s five suggestions to make this day count.  

5.  Your Family Mixed Nuts Gratitude:  Family.  What a bag of mixed nuts we all are.  So different in the fruit we produce, but all stemming  from the same rooted tree of love.  And, day-to-day, we can start to pay attention to the differences between us instead of recognizing and celebrating the glue that keeps us together.  Today, take a moment to pause and give thanks to your family members for  all the good they bring into your life.  Tell your siblings thank you for the support they give you, tell your spouse how it feels to be connected and loved. tell your kids how proud you are of them.  Give the dog an extra treat and say thank you for the lessons of unconditional love that an animal can give.  

4. Social Media Gratitude-emails, texts, tweets:  Social Media has been a point of discussion as we evolve as a planet, and how we treat and communicate with each other.  Bullying, too much information, using Facebook to complain about your life or lament about your neighbors new stereo.  But just like anything in life, it all about what you choose.  You can choose to have your social media forum be a voice of positivity.  Start today.  Compliment others, share links for local businesses that really go the extra mile, post pictures of the beauty of nature, and make the choice to send out a positive ripple.  

3. Community Gratitude:  What if you made it a point to say a heartfelt thank you every time someone made a difference in your community.  From the server at your local restaurant, the firemen, the policemen,  the garbage man, to the nurse, the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker.  I once suggested this, and had someone angrily ask why they should say thank you to people who are being paid to do the job?  My answer?  Why not? What are you losing from giving away gratitude?  What does your cynicism give you?  I give thanks to the people who perform duties that keep us safe and make our lives easier. And beyond that, give thanks to the volunteers and countless people who give of themselves with no expectation of recognition or thanks.  Where would we be without them?  

2.  Internal Gratitude-Giving Yourself a Little Love:  Why do we find this so tough?  Why do we look in the mirror and see the crow’s-feet instead of the sparkle in our eyes?  Truly the foundation of a grateful life is giving thanks for the beauty within that.  Let yourself look at your life with understanding and loving eyes.  Stop beating yourself up, and give thanks for each breath, each heart beat.  Whoever told you that you had to be perfect was in fact imperfect themselves.  So, let it go.  Love yourself.  Last year, I made a choice that each time I was getting ready in the morning, I was going to give thanks for the stretch marks on my stomach.  You see, I’ve cringed about them for so long.  But, I decided to change the conversation.  I decided to be thankful for them because they were reminders of my beautiful children, and the miracle of pregnancy. I decided to reframe what I once perceived as a flaw.  It is a life tattoo of a wondrous and miraculous time in my life.  Look at yourself today and be thankful for every little but of yourself.  

1.  Give Your Life a Gratitude Makeover:  The biggest way for you to celebrate World Gratitude Day?  Recognize that you don’t have to wait another 364 days to celebrate it again.  Make this a daily practice in your life.  Buy a gratitude journal.  Begin and end each day with a deep cleansing breath and a prayer of thanks for life itself.  Join the JOLT movement with me and 42, 517 others.  We join together from 45 different countries, speaking over 38 different languages, all looking for one little thing each day to be thankful for.  We’ve all had hills and valleys in our lives, and sometimes, one little thing is all we can grasp onto each day.  But we choose to see the good. Because truly, what is the alternative? 

The world is flawed.  So are we.  I only wish we had the power to change that with the blink of an eye.  We cannot.  But we can change our piece of the world, we can change our internal conversations, and we can send out a ripple of possibility.  By giving thanks each day, we cast a light into the darkness, reminding ourselves and each other that goodness is never far away.

Today, I am thankful for the opportunity to share this journey with all of you.  To recognize the perfection in the imperfection, and give thanks for another day to feel the wind on my face and the air in my lungs.

Make it a grateful day my friends, 


Life is Beautiful…

September 19th, 2013 | 3 comments

0022I believe in pink. I believe that laughing is the best calorie burner. I believe in kissing, kissing a lot. I believe in being strong when everything seems to be going wrong. I believe that happy girls are the prettiest girls. I believe that tomorrow is another day and I believe in miracles.~Audrey Hepburn~

I’ve been so busy lately. Busy, and a little frustrated that I am so busy that I cannot do the things I feel I should be doing.  Things like finalizing my next book, which is essentially finished.  Things like writing new things that I dream about. I have notes on paper towels, and grocery receipts about topics I want to write about, but never seem to find the time these days.

We do that to ourselves sometimes.  We get caught in this web of minutia.  We have this plan for living, and all of a sudden, we wake up one morning to find ourselves at the mercy of the damn to-do list.  Or, we find that we are structuring our days to meet the expectations of others, whether those expectations are actually real or manufactured in our heads based on our feelings of self-worth.

So, for the past few days, I have been sitting with my  thoughts, re-grouping and getting back to where I started.  When I first started sharing with all of you, I had this knowing, this knowledge and connection to something much larger than myself.  That message?

Life is beautiful.  No matter what is happening around you, it is beautiful. And the way through the darkness is to look for the flickers of light in the night sky.

Sharing that is what I am supposed to be doing.

So, this morning, when I found this, I had to share.  Thank you to Holocaust survivor Alice Herz-Sommer for reminding me of my purpose, and teaching us all this very important lesson.

Back on track,


Paper Hats, Blackened Burgers and Pride…Labor Day Remembered

September 2nd, 2013 | 7 comments

bigstock-The-Hands-Of-Men-Resting-After-17884703I don’t have a blue-collar job. It’s more of a green collar, because of all the yellow sweat stains mixing in. 
~Jarod Kintz~ 

I stood in my red, hooded zip jacket.  My mother had bought it at Riff’s department store for school, but said I was allowed to wear it to the parade that morning as long as I did not get it dirty or go rolling around in the grass. You see, the chill had crept back into the air.  It was as if summer had received an eviction notice overnight, and the crisp morning air was giving us a preview of the coming attraction of winter.  Leaves were even beginning to fall, and I kicked them with my feet, punishing them with the bottom of my shoe for letting summer come to an end so quickly.

People had lined the streets, and off in the distance, I could hear the sirens  of the fire trucks telling us they were getting close.  With my hands shoved in the pockets of that red coat, I would wait patiently for a few minutes, and then extend my head out to see how much longer I would have to wait. Until of course, someone yelled at me to get off the road.

I just wanted to see him.

It seemed that I had been waiting for days to spot him. Yes, it was always fun to catch the candy thrown from the fire trucks, or see the decorated bicycles.  But I was waiting to catch a glimpse of HIM.

The army cadet band passed with uniform movement, and I wondered how they could move like that and create music at the same time?

And then I saw him.  Coming around the corner with that saunter only he could pull off, wearing the pointed paper hat proudly.  He walked with his fellow workers, all wearing those paper hats, made from the very paper they themselves created in the mill.

And then, my Dad would give a quick smile and a wave, and continue his proud march with his fellow workers to the end of the parade route.

The morning would be followed by family gathering at our house, tons of food, and my father barbecuing hamburgers until they could no longer be identified as food, but rather closely resembling the charcoal briquettes that created the heat beneath the grill.  He was too busy telling stories and entertaining to be distracted by making the food…edible.  No matter who tried to help, he would never relinquish the apron or utensils, he just kept on talking…and spraying water on what could now be described as flaming black balls.  My mother always had so many condiments and sides, and I never made the connection until years later as to why she went to so much effort.  She was compensating for serving her guests a carcinogenic, blackened, dried out ball on a bun.  I remember fiddling with the pile, trying to see if there was one burger beneath the smoldering pile that survived the mayhem.

That is how I remember Labor Day.  My Dad was a rock star in my eyes, marching around the corner with pride, as we as a town celebrated the hard and grueling work they all did to take care of their families and to produce a much-needed product.  None of them had easy jobs.  I remember looking at my father’s hands when he would come home, permanently stained with the grease and God knows what that he worked in each day.  And, as a little girl, I would ask him, “Dad did you wash your hands before you came home from work?”  And he would smile and tell me yes, but that kind of work doesn’t always come off with soap.

Without so much as a word, he taught all of us the value of hard work, of a job well done, and the importance of taking pride, knowing that you gave your very best.  But he also taught us, with his spray bottle and flaming entrée, that you worked hard so you could come home and enjoy what really mattered in life.

To all the workers out there on this Labor Day, thank you for your hard work and the pride you take in a job well done. And for the rest of us, living in this reality television, “selfie” taking, brand buying, fame obsessed world.  May we never lose sight of the fact that the real celebrities are those who set the alarm, and get up each morning, doing what needs to be done to provide a service and to take care of their families.

Hope your burgers are cooked just right today,