Gratitude Is a Choice!

The quote this morning in the gratefulness.org email was from Henri Nouwen, and it really hit home with me.

GratitudeGratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint.

 

Life has been a little bumpy of late – that kind of bumpy that comes with change & growth!

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For example, last week, I had a MAJOR let down in my search for new work. The kicker was that very disappointing news was delivered in a wholly unprofessional and dismissive way. It took me a while to find my breath, let alone my attitude of gratitude. I asked my friends for support and prayers and took long walks, and said more than a few prayers for everyone I had met in the search process, including the one who had been so rude. Then, I took that great advice from Joe Walsh and the Eagles – GET OVER IT!

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Now, it is all history: THIS TOO SHALL PASS was true once again!

Then there is WORK, which is not bad, but JUST PLAIN HARD & TEDIOUS!  My current Interim Executive Director position is with an agency that, sadly, is shutting its doors. Closing down an organization is not an easy task. My days have been filled with creating comprehensive, detailed reports, both programmatic and financial, for contracts and programs I did not even know about until they were long over! The deadline to have them all delivered is tomorrow. My eyesblack-mold-allergy-problems-itchy-eyes are about to bleed from compiling spreadsheets and reviewing bank statements and receipts!  I have had help from one remaining manager whose last day was today. The rest is up to me – to tie up loose ends and get the invoices in to get the money in, then to close and pay off vendor accounts and begin the dissolution process. Details, details, details and then new details. They are unending, and I keep finding out there is more that needs to be done than I first believed on almost every front! During this ongoing challenge, and I am grateful for many of the people I have just come to know (and won’t get to know for long!!), who have been extremely supportive of me as I have tried to make sense out of it all!

So, even though I am tired and my eyes are going to fall out…

Even though the journey is taking me in directions that are quite different from what I was led to believe week before last…

Even though the future is very uncertain as I write…

I am grateful:

For my health.  I can’t say that one often enough.

facebookFor the over 200 responses on my Facebook page last week when life knocked me down for a few minutes and I asked for quick prayers and some extra support!

For the special home I share here with my awesome and supportive hubby and partner, Ned and our “wonder dog Chippy”!

For the beautiful azaleas and dogwoods in bloom.

For friends and family around the world. My collection of peeps is so diverse that I am never bored!

For this blog, where I can use my writing to learn a little bit more about living a Can Do Life!

And for my faith – and the ever growing opportunities I have to deepen and explore its reaches.

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Tough couple of weeks?  Yup!

Grateful?  More than ever before in my life!

What are you grateful for today?  I bet you can list at least five things!  And, to make it better, I urge you to share those things you are grateful for with those you love!  You never know when that little bit of sharing will make an important difference for them, too!

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The 7th – and Last – Secret of a Can Do Life!

Find and keep a sense of humor.

Why? Because life it hard enough – being a grouch or always serious just makes it harder.

Song in my HeartBack when I had just started chemo, I was talking with a friend when, I out of the blue I remembered a movie I loved as a kid, With a Song in My Heart.  It is the story of Jane Froman, a singer who toured Europe to entertain the troops during World War II, who was seriously injured in an airplane accident. Painfully and slowly, she rebuilt her life, always keeping a song in her heart. Jane Wyman played her in the movie and I can hear the song in my head as I type.

That was how With a Song in My Heart became my mantra during chemo, reminding me not to take myself or my situation SO seriously. I learned to laugh about the indignities of chemo – from rashes to the runs – and to laugh at myself in the process! That lighter and more playful attitude helped me grow and learn so much more about what is important in life during my chemo and recovery experience.

A sense of humor balances us. And, laughter bathes the brain in endorphins which shutterstock_45929179soothe and heal the stressed out places. I believe that laughter allows the gratitude in your life to take root in your heart.

One of the most important places to be able to laugh is at work, with the caveat of being respectful, and being careful not to be inappropriate. I have worked in several very high risk, high intensity programs where how a crisis was handled could mean life or death, or at least risk of serious injury. But, even in those environments, maybe especially in those environments, I have appreciated the ability of my colleagues and employees to balance the stress with some lighter moments. I have discovered that sharing a laugh with colleagues helps create bonds that create a carry-over of positive vibes that can be quite helpful during stressful meetings.

Once, long before my Can Do days, during a very intensive program proposal writing process, a colleague who was a partner in the project called and said he had something important to tell me. I took my eyes off the narrative to pick up the phone, thinking “this better add another $10K to the project’s bottom line, or I will scream!” After I said hello, he said, “if at first you don’t succeed,” then paused.  I, somewhat tersely, responded, “yes, what?” to which he answered, “don’t try sky diving!”  It was just what I needed. And more than 10 years later, I still remember it!

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Finding and keeping a sense of humor – so full of wisdom that adds years to our lives and life to our years. And in today’s era of technology, being able to laugh is as easy as finding the puppy, kitty or baby videos on YouTube.

Speaking of YouTube (how is that for a finessed transition!?), I have posted two short preview videos for the new Live YOUR Can Do Life online workshop that launches on Friday!  Click here for the Intro to YOUR Can Do Life and click here for Making Possibility Decisions… One of the promises I can make about the workshop series is that it will be engaging and, yes, even fun! While registration is open until March 27th, I encourage you to sign up today to get the most from the workshop videos, tele-workshop on March 18th and the Live YOUR Can Do Life Workbook. Click here to learn more!

Thanks for joining me on the Can Do Blog during these last seven weeks to learn about the Seven Secrets of a Can Do Life!  Writing these posts has been great fun and allowed me to understand and live the secrets a little deeper myself.

The fun does not stop here!  Be sure to sign up to be on the email list for the Can Do Blog. (From the menu, it is on the right side of the Can Do Blogs page.) I have made a commitment to post a blog or podcast every Wednesday. It’s kind of my anti-hump-day statement.

monkey-headerNext Wednesday, I will be posting the Can Do Dialogue podcast that my colleague and friend Troy Thompson and I are recording about his fascinating, meaningful – and funny, I might add – No Evil Project. We won’t just be monkeying around, either!!  Come back and check it out!

In the meantime, stay well and remember that you can change the world by making the commitment every day to have a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality.

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It’s Time for the 6th Secret of a Can Do Life

Remember, life comes in cycles.  It’s quite simple and quite timely, this 6th secret: Remember, life comes in cycles. Just when we are SO READY for winter to be over and SPRING to get here.

spring-clip-art-spring-flower-clipartSpring is COMING! There are little signs around us.  It’s March. Spring training games started in Florida and Arizona this week. Daylight savings time starts this Sunday. While it is sure to snow a couple more times in many places across the US, it is a bit easier to take because Spring is COMING!

One of life’s great blessings is that our life comes in cycles. Daily. Monthly. Seasonal. Repeated, yet always changing.

How is Life Comes in Cycles a Secret of a Can Do Life? At the core of my Can Do life is a commitment I make every day (sometimes more than once a day!) to live my life with a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality. The great thing about life coming in cycles is that no matter how yesterday went for me, I get to start each day new with this commitment.

shutterstock_77844214Life cycles give us two opportunities – one is to start over!  Not in the Scarlett O’Hara procrastinating way of “I’ll think about that tomorrow!” But in the ability to recommit with new energy to how we live our life and work toward our goals. The sunrise brings new light and new energy.

As does spring. For spring, we have rituals, like spring cleaning to brighten and light up our environment. For some of us, it is a re-commitment to exercise after the winter hibernation filled with comfort food and loose fitting sweat pants! Some people go away for Spring Break to play in the sun. In the Christian and Jewish faith traditions, we celebrate Easter and Passover, both of which are filled with symbols of new life, freedom, promise and hope.

valentine-clipartcom-free-valentine-clip-artLife coming in cycles also gives us the opportunity to remember moments, such as anniversaries and birthdays. To remember and to learn important lessons from the past for our future. Then, to recommit. For me, February 14th is much more than Valentine’s Day. It marks my anniversary of remission from Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  It reminds me of how precious my health is and how privileged I am to have it restored!  I try to keep that in mind every day, but I celebrate my health and my new life in a special way on Valentine’s Day!  And I use that day to commit again to working on my goal of keeping myself healthy.

As spring awakens the earth after the long, cold, grey winter months, I invite you to join me in recommitting on a new level to a whole and healthy life – YOUR Can Do Life.

Imagine hoTodayw much happier, more productive and stronger our families, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities would be if everyone made a commitment starting today to live his or her life with a positive attitude, grounded in gratitude and based in reality.

I hope that this spring, you Imagine, then Discover What You Can Do!

P.S. One way you can do this is to participate in the new Live YOUR Can Do Life online workshop.  Registration starts on March 6th and the workshop launches on Friday the 13th. The multi-media program is open online for two weeks. Learn more by clicking here.

 

 

 

5th secret of a Can Do Life revealed…

We are all connected and part of something bigger…

Whether it is our family, our neighborhood, our school, our friends, our workplace, our faith community, our political party, our regiment or platoon in the military, our local service club, our sports teams… as humans, we all have a need for connection and want to belong to something greater than ourselves. The term “tribes” has come back into use to talk about groups people with whom we identify. Trekkies, Harry Potter lovers, Red Sox fans (not Yankee Fans), Ohio State fans (not Michigan fans), Nascar enthusiasts, the list goes on and on. I think it even includes people who want to live a more Can Do life.

In this age of technology and shutterstock_77317735“social media,” we have this ever expanding collection of “communication” technologies and tools that we use to connect: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, texting and the rest. The reason that they are so popular is that they are designed to tap into our need to be connected. Stay in touch. Be in relationship. It Group of Business People with Social Media Conceptcan be argued, and it is, that these devices and the communication they deliver are not enough and cannot satisfy us. When they are used to enhance relationships, they work well. They, however, cannot take the place of relationships. I want Siri to help me get to the restaurant for my dinner engagement, but I do not want her to go out to dinner with me as my companion!!

I believe that Can Do needs to be shared in order to grow. As I observe in The Can Do Chronicles, CAN DO is always lived in relationship – with self, with God and with others.” Can Do is strengths-based – grounded in saying YES! to life, and to each other. If my life is about “yes” and possibilities, it is also about the quality of how I connect with other people.  And, for me personally, it also relies on and reflects the quality of how I connect with my God. When I don’t stay connected, I tend to get too far into my own head and get in my own way, making it much easier for me to lose my Can Do focus on life in general.

My most dearly held belief is that the most important connection we have is to our kids – all shutterstock_60308743of our kids – and the legacy we leave behind for them. When we say we are so concerned about bullying as an issue impacting our children, I think we should start by looking in the mirror and being more aware of how we, the adults, are treating each other.  In the media and politics with headlines that accuse and sound bites that bite! And ask ourselves, “what is that teaching our kids?” Some people talk about the debt and environment that we are leaving our children. I am concerned about those, things too. But, when I see a world increasingly filled with negatives, blaming, “gotchya games,” finger pointing that is polarizing and rude, I am also concerned about the toxic messages we give, and what we are showing our kids about how people treat each other and how to make decisions.

We are all connected and part of something bigger…

shutterstock_61817020I believe we can do better. I want to be a voice that reminds us that we are connected at our core and more alike than we are different… and, of the good we are capable of and the dreams that we need to reach and teach our kids to reach.

I believe we can do better, for our kids’ sakes, because they need you and me, not football players, movie and rock stars – to be their heroes and role models! They need and want to be connected with us – and be part of something bigger.

What connections are important in your life? Want some ideas of how you can you make those connections more Can Do? There are lots of Can Do resources available, such as:

  • Have you read The Can Do Chronicles?  It is a great resource and reminder about what is important in life, if I don’t say so myself!  And it is on sale on amazon! Check it out by clicking here!
  • The Can Do Dialogues, my series of podcasts with stories of amazing everyday heroes is available by clicking here.
  • Also, there is a new online workshop, Live YOUR Can Do Life that launches on March 13th.  Check that out by clicking here!

See you next week with the Sixth Secret!

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The 4th Secret of a Can Do Life is…

MAKE AND TAKE TIME FOR REFLECTION

For me, it is the hardest one of them all. I have places to go and people to see and things to do and deadlines to keep. When I was 11, I played Alice in the local library production of441926-Cartoon-Businesswoman-Running-With-Late-Files Alice in Wonderland. The only line I remember is, “I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say ‘Hello,’ goodbye. I’m late!  I’m late! I’m late!”  Even when I am on time, I always feel like I am behind – late, late, late!

Waiting is agony for me, especially if I don’t have my phone or a book or my computer to keep me company. When I am on a webinar or conference call, I check my email and Facebook during the “in between” times. In between when I am paying attention, that is.  Sometimes, I feel like I have lost my ability and patience to be still. To be at rest. Quietly reflecting.

What is that all about, anyway? When I write it down, it sound absurd! It would be like only driving my car at 70 MPH. That pace of life gives adrenaline way too much power. And, it leads to burning out. I know. I burned out once, and I promised myself I would never go back there. I can still get to the “sort of crispy” point, then have learned to pull myself back in. Hey, at least now I stop for yellow lights!!

Since my chemo days, I have tried harder to make and take time for reflection. Tried. Ash wednesdayHave not always succeed, even though it is one of the Secrets, and therefore pretty important to me!  So, I set a goal that actually gets kicked off today. Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. I signed up for a retreat program through my church, based on St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises, and as part of the retreat have committed myself to 40 minutes of prayer and meditation every day between today and Easter. I am excited to find out what I will discover.

Reflection. For me that means prayer and meditation as ways of connecting and communicating with my God, my Creator, my friend, and the places inside myself where that connection is strongest. To listen, to be curious. To share my dreams. To deepen my commitment to achieving those dreams.

For others, this reflection time might involved art or music, dance or nature.

shutterstock_121922443My reflection time allows me to focus on my dreams. Talk to God. Talk to myself about the why and the how, leaving the when and where to a later time. Reflection time allows my body and brain to decompress and rest. Expands my thoughts and lets my creative juices take the place of all that deadline-driven adrenaline. Balances the different parts of me – the inside with the outside. Reflection unlocks my heart to let it be heard… and to it be fed.

Some people think that refection or meditation or prayer is boring. For as much of an IMG_20140705_220935633adrenaline junkie as I can be, I really love becoming lost in the flames of a fire or the sounds of the ocean. Watching the changing colors of a beautiful sunset – or sunrise. Letting my senses stretch and hear, see, smell, taste and feel a littleMBH picture for blog more of what is going on on the inside and the outside. Inviting my soul to connect with my brain and my feet and my calendar and the rest of my life. Listen, listen, listen and learn.

No matter what your faith tradition, today is a good day to commit to making and taking time for reflection. Start with a big enough, while still manageable, goal. Build the time gradually. If reading, audio or video materials help, between Google and the library, you can find just about anything you need for free: find blogs and YouTube videos, poetry books, art books and classical music.The last section of the Can Do Chronicles has an area with quotes and prompts for meditation.

shutterstock_129151931I recommend that you keep a journal with the insights and ideas that come to you as you meditate, so that these gems do not get lost in the busy-ness of the rest of your life.

My prayers go with you on your journey….

 

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