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Thankfulness is the ability to express appreciation in response to something that we've received.

Many of us have been taught as (and teach it to) kids when we're given something or are served. Thankfulness is a huge step in connecting our ability to appreciation with our ability to express through words and action. There is no doubt about how important expression of thankfulness is, however, contrary to popular belief, thankfulness is actually different from gratitude and gratefulness.

In short: Thankfulness is transactional. Gratitude is a transcendent state of being eternally appreciative. Gratefulness is the transmission of gratitude.

Gratitude

Gratitude is the attitude of satisfied appreciation. We each have the capacity to feel wholeheartedly satisfied and blessed regardless of circumstance, including tragedy and heartbreak.

We can connect our mind with our heart's fullness, when our minds are free of expectation, of requirements, of a limited idea, of scarcity. Gratitude is rooted in a deep-seated belief that Love is a limitless blessing that transcends time, space.

Gratefulness

Gratefulness is the language--the expression, the transmission, recognition, voice and demonstration of being in a state of gratitude.

Gratefulness is the quality of surrendering to the transcendence of infinite capacity. It's a foreign and familiar appreciation for being both big and small at the same time. It's the language of the heart--the energy of connection, acceptance and Love.

It's often difficult to package "neatly" and to express fully because there is no exacting language to deliver the unfathomable depth of this aspect of Love's infinite force. Its magnitude truly does exist beyond measure, beyond words and in our ability to imagine it.

It's through the experience of recognizing and attempting to express it, that the connections between intention, beauty, value and sharing can truly be produced. Gratitude & Gratefulness are the source of true intimacy, unity and wholeness; the experience of seeing and being seen.

I know it may sound abstract, ethereal, cerebral, or maybe even paradoxical...BUT if you really sit with this message, it will resonate in your heart, because this message is delivered in the heart's language. It carries the energy, the light of hope and understanding that your heart understands--independent of how your mind reckons with it.

What does gratitude have to do with living Happily EVEN After?

It has SO MUCH to do with it! This attitude, of gratitude, gives us the ability to see life differently. It allows us to see beyond our limited mind, able to see value in everything: love & fear, joy & pain, giving & receiving, courage & vulnerability, triumphs & challenges, life & death, light & dark, universal & unique, the mindful & mindless, the composed & the raw.

Gratitude is ultimately the source of wholeness--how we are both big & small, giver & recipient of our attitude & efforts, infinitely connected, and how we work to accept ourselves as we do each other. It is the birthplace of eternity, empathy and connection.

It helps us to let go of the idea that there are "good" and "bad," and that there are simply choices and changes.

Without gratitude, can there really be meaningful satisfaction toward the fullness of life and the possibility of deeply connected relationships?

How can I build my gratitude muscle?

We can practice asking ourselves more frequently...

What is the "tiniest" experience, growth, opportunities, and connections that I can see and focus on right now?

Research shows that the capacity to feel joy, hope and love increases with the willingness to see all of ourselves and each other with appreciation instead of judgment.

#posttraumaticgrowth #CouragePractice

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I've learned to use a more appropriate "measuring stick" in the years that followed Nelson's death. One end is the reality of nature, and at the other end is potential.

Whenever I start noticing that I'm getting "off-center" (feeling that my peacefulness and balance are disturbed), I can trace it back to my self-care practices being de-prioritized or completely tossed by the way-side, even if only for a day or two. If it gets to be more than 3-4 days, my self-compassion seriously begins to wane, and fear morphs into self-talk which eventually becomes rampant and downright cruel, boxing me into a corner with my hands over my eyes and head.

Don't get it twisted... Self-care is not selfish. Indulgence is when we prioritize the use of our personal resources on our wants ahead of our needs. Selfishness is when our needs and wants are drawn primarily at the expense of others.

When I say "self-care" I'm talking about taking responsibility to prioritize taking care of my actual needs (aka: well-being) above all else. It's kind of like the flight attendants say "Secure your own mask, before assisting others." and most of us have also heard the adage "You're no good to anyone if you don't take care of yourself." ...but I wonder, how many of us actually live in a state of cognitive dissonance (behaving contrary to our beliefs)?

Cogni-what?

It's hard to hear and even harder to admit. I should know. I fall into that state whenever my self-care practices fall by the wayside. As a coach, I want to be held to a higher standard because I feel like I should. ...and that's where the trouble begins. I start "should-ing" all over myself... Oy.

I'm pretty sure by now, that the term "self-care" has made it out into social media, the news, and even casual conversation...but how many of us really know what it is, and what it looks like?

While the specific ways we practice self-care can be different, what is ultimately the same is that it involves directing our own personal resources to cover our own needs above wants, our own or otherwise.

My personal self-care practices include things like

  1. start the day by expressing gratitude to connect me with life,

  2. stretches & exercises to support my vitality, flexibility, strength, and mobility,

  3. vitamins & supplements specific for staving off depression & anxiety, and support mental focus & emotional balance,

  4. secular prayer, meditation to calibrate my mind, heart & body to my values

  5. set intentions for the day to provide clarity & direction

  6. enjoy home-cooked natural foods like fruits, veggies, nuts & tea that support my mental, emotional and physical needs,

  7. brief financial check-up for peace of mind,

  8. listen to music to energize me and lift my mood

  9. manage calendar & commitments to match my personal & professional goals, as well as personal thresholds to spend time & money, travel, and to rest & recharge in quietude,

  10. recapitulate how I spent my day, how I felt, and what I want to do tomorrow,

  11. at the end of the day, I write one or two sentences in a gratitude journal

  12. pray for restful & rejuvenating sleep before I close my eyes into a peaceful sleep.

These are the things I aim to do daily. I've slowly built this framework into my lifestyle over the past couple of years.

Whenever I am consistent...

I feel so deeply in love with my life, that I wake up giggling, and feel the flow throughout my days. I easily transform challenges into opportunities and transmit Love, Light and happiness to everyone I interact with. I have a peaceful knowing in my heart that I am demonstrating all that I am capable of being in each moment.

I can actually see all of this and feel the positive current of fulfillment charge every cell of my being. It's beyond words to describe how truly amazing to live in a state of grace and gratitude!

Whenever I am inconsistent...

I feel like complete and total crap. I feel stressed, depressed, anxious and depleted. It's only in hindsight that I can see that whenever I'm inconsistent, things often either devolve into the madness they once were, or I'm seeing glimpses back into (an old life) of tormenting stress, armoring up defensively, and tunnel vision--fixated on quantity of work, to please, striving to be enough, etc.

I can't usually see past the madness and suffering during these times. Instead I can feel. I get the sense that the "walls are closing in," the reigns are tightening and the whip is cracking, and fear is feverishly poisoning and blinding me.

It's so different yet so familiar; that old life. It isn't until I "hit stop" on the horror movie I'm playing or until I scream out in pain that it stops... the old story falls away and I have a new chance to begin again...to gently restart my self-care practices.

Sometimes I reconnect with my intention to practice self-care to get back to higher ground, but I somehow restart on the wrong foot, rigid and regimented, finger wagging and whip-cracking--which defeats the purpose. It hurts, I recognize or cry out again, and the old story falls away and I can begin again. It's hard! Getting caught up in my old story, my old life is a habit that I've had for 40+ years.

It can be so hard to manage peace, progress and potential, because it requires practice, patience, trust and energy...all things which don't come without mindful awareness for me; but for all the joy, peace, hope, happiness and fulfillment I've seen on the other side, it's worth it. I remember that I don't want to carry around baggage of what could've been and the weight of guilt that would likely follow at the end of my life, knowing that I didn't try when I had the chance. I remember that I'm worth the effort and that I'd rather reach for a life of action & adventure instead of horror any day.

I need to actively note and respect my lifestyle choices by providing myself flexibility and support to say no to things that take away from self-care, or being wholeheartedly present to the activity. It can be challenging--especially when my self-care practices have slipped, and my tendencies ("old patterns") re-emerge to pay attention to quantity over quality, appearances over engagement, work over peace, perfection over failure, suffering over truth, distraction over coping, etc.

Taking personal stock

I recognize that I've internalized so many false ideas and developed harmful habits to support them. It takes daily time, energy, and practice to replace those fear-based habits with mindful practices because the price of regret is time--which I don't know how much I have here. None of us do.

In looking at my beloved Nelson, who died very suddenly at age 38, I'm glad that he lived well, with, from what I know of, very few regrets. He enjoyed life in the moment fully engaged with whatever and whomever. He didn't waste energy on worries and fear. He gave himself space to do the things that supported his happiness. He lead by example and he was unapologetically himself. His generosity of spirit was unmatched. He knew his tendencies and his goals, and he managed them both with what he knew in the present moment. His attitude about life surreal.

I was in awe of his energy, how he wielded it, and his ability to live wholeheartedly within the first few hours of getting to know him before we even started dating.

Thankfully I've come to see (and welcome that he) lives on within me through Love & Gratitude. I am blessed to now be able to live my life well because I can better see how it works altogether. First from Nelson, and now from mentors I've sought out, and from having my own experience.

When I fail nowadays, I aim to do so "daring greatly" (referencing Brene Brown quoting Theodore Roosevelt). When I muster up the courage to continue to do so, I am able to learn and grow from each experience. The pain is not suffering anymore, but expansion and strength. It can be a miraculous transformation that happens when I surrender to faith, love and gratitude for the opportunity.

Today, I can see how falling into old traps is an endurance test for me; one that is making me more adept at getting back up, a reminder for me to lead by example, and opportunity to try again, and one to be brave enough to pull back the curtain to show you the reality of how we will need to put in the effort at every stage of life to live it to the fullest.

Through all of these lessons and actively practicing self-care, I've rediscovered that we're all capable of living a life of friendship, service and leading life as an example of Love, Peace, Hope, Integrity and Gratitude.

I encourage you (as I often must remind myself) to both wonder & explore with purpose & light. Love & respect yourself as well as the nature & opportunities of experiences in your life and the rest will come.

What are some of your most valuable self-care practices? How do get back on track when something derails your days? I'd love to hear how you work through it! Email me or join us at our next Meetup group.

#posttraumaticgrowth #practices #overcomingobstacles #griefmourning #personalcontemplation

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Living life after loss can be extremely challenging...probably the most difficult challenge you'll ever face. You might even be thinking "Designing my life? That sounds CRAZY!"

I get it. Once upon a time, it sounded ludicrous to me, too--but it's literally what has helped me transform existing into living.

Lifestyle design is an art-meets-science kind of process. It's seeing a goal and embracing the gap between. It's the willingness to both look for the hidden gems and to be open to seeing that they might be in right in front of you. It's accepting that the distance between "what we want" and "where we are" will absolutely require effort from us. It's seeing that the development of skills, and employment of patience, levity and perseverance are all within our power; AND THEN daring to take the wheel.

My Mission

It's my mission is to bring people to a place of remembering themselves, seeing the truth and embracing it all: appreciating the haves; acknowledging the have-nots as well as the possibilities; and accepting that they have innate superpowers to create their future... IF they would simply be willing to: first, dream with their eyes wide open; and second, to build their skills--to be able to live well, serve well, and savor the moments they have.

My Role

It's my honor & privilege to guide you through the dark; to bring my light and to partner with you to stoke yours; to help you breathe life into your hopes, dreams & abilities; and to act as a mirror to both brighten the scene to help you see more clearly; to encourage you and walk you through to reclaim the abandoned parts of you from within that space (wherever that may be inside), and; to finally lead you out of the darkness and teach you how to ADJUST, design and build your life to spec for the next chapter--so that you can be whole and free to embrace your life to live Happily EVEN After, stronger and able to carry on with self-confidence because you practiced! You did it all with your own effort.

I am not blind nor fearless. I simply have practiced more frequently as well as have committed to serving those who aim to walk through hell with faith, a clear spirit of intention, and to keep going all the way through to the other side of it.

The Struggle is Real

Happily EVEN After Living (HEAL) is real, and so is the struggle. You don't have to go it alone, and you don't have to stay stuck. There is another option...

Join us on the adventure to grow our skills and abilities, to connect the dots and to share the secrets of navigating uncharted territory to ADJUST our course: to live Happily EVEN After.

I would love to hear from you...

In what area of your life could you dare to dream differently than what you have now?

#posttraumaticgrowth

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