Tag Archives: gratitude

Are you missing beautiful humanity?

The other day I stopped to grab my husband and I breakfast sandwiches. Due to the time, it wasn’t a quick stop. I arrived with the expected sight of long still lines and hurried staff behind the counter. As time went by, I challenged myself not to distract myself with my phone or the news playing on the television above me.

Periodically I will do this when I am waiting and tempted to make the time pass. This practice helps me focus on staying present and supports me in not needing to be entertained, but rather be completely content observing.

I am so glad I chose this particular moment for my practice and will be forever grateful for what I saw.

I saw a father instruct his teenage son to help a lady with a large order to her car.

I saw the son get up and offer his help without even a slight hesitation.

I saw a mother gently rub her daughters back as they stood in silence waiting for a small shuffle to get closer to the counter.

I saw the manager hurrying around, making sure orders were getting out and checking in on the customers waiting every few minutes with genuine kindness.

I saw a father pick up his coffee then say “Come on beautiful” to his young daughter.

I saw the daughters face light up at her father’s casual statement.

I saw an employee joke with the people in line as he passed out free donut holes.

I saw an elderly couple sit quietly in the corner enjoying their coffee as they watched everyone else, with their lips slightly turned up.

No matter who I looked at, I saw beautiful humanity.

In a time when we are being consistently exposed to conflict and disagreement (especially here in the US during a presidential year) these moment remind me of the light in each of us.

Here we were, all different sexes, races and religions with a common goal of getting some breakfast. There was no hate outwardly expressed. Each of us has our own stories. Each of us has our own struggles and suffering. But we were there together, not allowing any of those stories to affect us in how we treated one another.

Each person in this busy store showed love in some way. There was not frustration or anger, despite the long wait. There were only people respectfully co-existing.

As I walked out the shop 45 minutes later I was so in love with the beauty in people. This simple situation gave me faith in our potential as humans to let love guide and truly exist in peace.

It also was a great reminder of how many times I miss these moments. We all do. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there, just waiting for us to look up from our phones or get out of our thoughts.

Beautiful humanity is everywhere around us and it would serve us all if we started to see it.

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Why I can’t remember my age…

With my birthday a few weeks away I am often answering the question “How old are you going to be?” Each time I find myself having to calculate it just as I usually do when I am asked about my age. I find peoples reaction to this very interesting, as many people don’t understand how it is possible for me not to know it immediately. To be honest, I haven’t known my age for a long time and the reason is very simple.

I don’t really care how old I am. 

Age has truly no meaning to me. It doesn’t define me, explain anything about who I am or give any insight into my worth as a person. I also care very little how old others are. In truth, I actually look forward to getting older. Looking at my life now compared to when I was younger, I wouldn’t trade it.

I love the knowledge and experience I have gained over the years. I am more empowered, courageous and confident than I was even last year, let alone ten or more years ago. Too often we look to aging like it is a time bomb, ticking away to our last day. In actuality aging is a beautiful process of growth if we choose to see it that way.

We can have less limits to chasing our dreams as we get older, not more. We generally have more financial stability, more understanding of who we truly are and what we want. We may have more responsibility but we are also much more equipped to handle it. Our relationships and loyalties are richer and more fulfilling. I know so many people shifting careers, starting school or beginning families much later in life than “typical” and each one of them are doing it from a place of excitement and being true to their spirit which is sometimes lacking when we are younger.

The number one concern people tend to mention about age is the perception of our body’s deterioration. I have found that my knowledge on how to take care of my body is stronger than it has ever been, giving me potential of physical perfection that I could never have had before. While my body may have appeared to be thinner, have less grey hair or be less wrinkled when I was younger, I am far healthier now.

I know enough now to listen to my body when it talks to me. When my knees creak, when I am low on energy or when I see my skin looking tired, it is a sign of needing to take better care of myself, not a sign of “getting old.” I am grateful my body yells at me to stretch, eat better, and drink more water in the only language it knows, physical sensation. These things happen to us at any age, we often miss listening to it in our youth so as we age the signs become clearer.  Most physical ailments as we get older are a side affect of choices our younger selves made not some guarantee of body deterioration.

When we are young we look forward to our birthdays and getting older with excitement but somewhere along the way there is a shift when people begin to dread it. It is possible to still have that excitement for your birthday at any age if you chose to see the process as an exciting journey. I still think birthdays are worth celebrating but tying it to an age seems unnecessary to me.  We should celebrate stepping into a new year, not grieving for the past or feeling fear of the future.

Look forward with excitement for the potential it has instead of towards the past with regret and I assure you, you won’t remember your age either!

Make This Christmas Thing Last…

I feel called to share the below post I wrote a few years back.  To me , this still holds true every year and I continue to try to find ways to keep the Christmas spirit alive in my own life.  Will you join me in doing the same? Happy holidays to all of my wonderful follower and fellow bloggers 🙂 

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In the spirit of the season, I wanted to share some lyrics from one of my favorite Christmas Songs.  Although not a common or traditional song, An Old City Bar by Trans-Siberian Orchestra perfectly displays the spirit of Christmas through a beautiful story.  My favorite verse:

If you want to arrange it

This world, you can change it

If we can somehow

Make this Christmas thing last

By helping a neighbor

Or even a stranger

To know who needs help,

You need only just ask

Image Source: Google Images

Image Source: Google Images

This verse moves me every time.  I will listen to it throughout the year to remind myself to get back into the spirit, regardless of the month I am in.  I am always inspired and amazed by the giving we see this time of year; and I just don’t mean the gift giving on Christmas Morning.  Donations to charities explode, there are wait lists to volunteer at soup kitchens, Salvation Army volunteers ring bells all around and people everywhere are friendlier.  As the season comes close, the heartfelt stories begin to spread and thoughtful ideas of handmade gifts are shared.  If you avoid the crazed stressful shopping and filled malls, which is my tendency, these other aspects of Christmas are all you see and experience.  It is an incredible display of humanity and kindness.

As the season comes to an end, I am always a little sad to see this fade away.  It lasts a few days but after the New Year begins, the feel of love, compassion and giving that surrounds us now is a memory and we get on with our lives.  Do we not see that homeless still need to be served in May?  Do we not know that our favorite charities need money in July, maybe even more so than this time of year?  Of course we realize this, but somehow the cycle continues.

One of the reasons for this is that the spirit of giving and kindness is contagious.  As this season approaches, people start talking about giving gifts, making plans to volunteer and create lists of what they will give others.  This starts to feed the energy in the air and slowly more and more people join in.  By the beginning of December everyone is in the holiday spirit and energized by it.  There is no other time of year when so many people are collectively focused on giving.  It creates a powerful force that leads to what we call Christmas Miracles, which are simply acts of human kindness that are available year round if we would choose to display them.  The focus on giving warms our hearts, inspires us and brings us joy.  This makes anything possible.

The more of us that make giving and helping others our way of life after the season passes; the more likely that others will catch on and the world can really change.  Regardless of how much you have, what you do for a living or who you know; true fulfillment can only come if you live all year long with giving, love and kindness.  This is what Christmas teaches us.  It can be anything from giving smiles and hugs to giving some of your time to volunteer or help a neighbor.  Every bit of giving and kindness will help keep the spirit alive.

So I ask you, how can you make this Christmas thing last?

Staying Grateful After Thanksgiving

So often we spend Thanksgiving feeling grateful then immediately get caught up in the busyness of the holiday season.  Don’t let this happen to you!  Check out my post on West Valley Moms Blog for tips on everyday gratitude! 

Exercises-for-Staying-Grateful

 

I love this time of year. There is a feeling in the air of love and laughter while everyone is focused on thankfulness and giving. I often wonder why we let this feeling be limited to such a short period of time (mainly from Thanksgiving to just after New Years). The rest of the year we allow these feelings to fade away and we get caught up in our lives. It is especially easy for us moms to get caught up in taking care of the day-to-day needs of our families. The busier we get and the more demands there are on our time sometimes cause us to lose sight of amazing blessings.

It is not easy to be satisfied with the way things are when we are consistently focused on what we don’t like, which unfortunately we tend to do. We easily allow ourselves to get caught up in what we want to make better, what we want to change and the things we don’t want to do during the day. Shifting our focus to the things that are blessings can completely change the way we feel about our lives. Gratitude is an extension of fulfillment; you cannot feel one without the other. In order to feel fulfilled as a mother and as a person in general, we must feel content and happy with all aspects of their lives. read more…

 

Fall In Love… With Yourself (Part 2)

If you haven’t yet, please be sure to read Part 1 as this picks up where that one left off.

Exploring who you are is a critical step in learning to love yourself. This selfexercise of self-exploration will open to door to understanding what is stopping you from pure self-love. After you feel like you have a deep and intimate understanding of who you are, work through the below steps to start uncovering the multiple layers of unconditional love.

Be grateful for the flaws – It is important that you are completely honest with yourself and find what aspects that you tend to hide. What things cause you to cringe a little? Where does shame creep up? Once you identify these items, begin to truly accept all aspects of yourself by affirming that your “flaws” are what makes you unique and ultimately perfect. Often, we would easily love others with the same “flaws” and recognizing that helps in finding this love for ourselves. Allow the labels to fade away and just be with the reality of all the beautiful aspects of who you are. Daily, take a moment to be grateful for these “flaws” as they give you an opportunity to experience unconditional love.

Respecting yourself – We tend to treat ourselves with significantly less respect than we do others. Respecting yourself includes speaking to ourselves with kindness as well as requiring others to do the same. Anytime you make a comment about yourself that is negative, even joking, it chips away at your self-esteem and gives fuel to your inner critic. Unfortunately our habits of negative self-talk can run deep and took years to build so it takes time to change. This is one that requires a high level of awareness. Spend a day watching all your thoughts and comments about yourself. Are there themes when you talk about yourself negatively? Many people do when they speak about things like needing to lose weight or a goal they aren’t hitting as quickly as they would like. Ask others to support you in letting you know when you have made a comment about yourself that is negative. Once you see when you tend to bring in negative self-talk, you can begin to catch it and change the dialogue you have about yourself. A good rule of thumb is if you wouldn’t say it to someone else, you shouldn’t say it to yourself. Add in a consistent practice of looking in the mirror and telling yourself “I love you”. It may feel odd and funny at first, but it will help grow a habit of positive self-talk while you are eliminating the negative.

Have compassion – We are incredibly hard on ourselves. Our high standards for achievement that we put on ourselves are often impossible. We fill ourselves with “shoulds” and “need to’s” that wreak havoc on our self worth. Cultivating compassion for ourselves, providing understanding and love, will create a feeling of fulfillment that we dream of. Let go of the things that you regret and haven’t forgiven yourself for. You are human and will make mistakes and fail. Not only is there nothing wrong with that, those mistakes and failures are gifts for growth so be grateful for them instead of holding a grudge against yourself. For more support read my post on Tips to Living Self Compassion.

Ultimately, you will never have complete and unconditional love in your life if you don’t have it for yourself. Nothing external will fill that void and you will always have a feeling of discontentment if you are lacking any bit of self-love. You deserve better than that. You deserve complete love and happiness. Start right now, healing any wounds and changing any perceptions that are keeping you for unconditional love.

Fall In Love… With Yourself (Part 1)

Love is an incredibly powerful force. It is something we crave, search for and spend our lives trying to understand. Most of the time when we think of love, however, we tend to focus on loving externally. We love our family, our friends, our significant other and the animals in our lives. We even use the word to describe how we feel about material items or circumstances in our lives. With all the ways we use this word and think about this emotion, we rarely feel comfortable Loveusing it on ourselves. We have created a world where those who love themselves are considered selfish or vain. It is almost egotistical to think that you are “in love” with yourself and we reject this notion. Loving yourself, however, is very different from the labels we put on it and until we look past them, we can never know true love.

The fact is you will never have the potential for a deeper relationship with anyone than you do with yourself. You can’t know every thought or emotion someone else has. We can hide parts of ourselves from others, but we experience every raw thoughts and emotion that arises every moment of our lives. These simple truths lead to the fact that experiencing unconditional love, the deepest kind that accepts all flaws and idiosyncrasies, can truly only start with loving ourselves. Loving who you are is the ultimate lesson in what it means to love without expectations and judgment.

Falling in love with yourself is a beautiful journey that can be filled with awe and freedom. It allows an incredible powerful force of positivity and joy to enter your life, bleeding into every relationship you have. It doesn’t come from believing you are better than others, but recognizing the perfection within yourself.

The best way to begin the journey is to get to know yourself intimately. You cannot fully love yourself if you don’t know yourself. Create a routine around sitting alone and truly exploring who you are. If you were to take away any opinion of others in your life, who are you? What do you like about yourself? What do you not like about yourself? Why? Are there parts of yourself you hide because you are afraid of judgment? What gifts do these personality traits, the “good” and “bad” bring into your life? These questions are only a start. Allow your mind to explore and write down anything that comes up. Shine a light on the things you have been hiding. Really truly look at them and sit with the discomfort they bring you. This exercise of self-exploration will open to door to understanding what is stopping you from giving yourself pure, unconditional love.

In following posts I will be providing more steps on continuing this journey after you begin the self-exploration process. In the meantime, know that you are divinely perfect…

With Immense love and gratitude – April

A Gift For You!

Dear Followers,Giveaway

This year I have been truly blessed.  As I think about how fortunate I am, I realize that I cannot pursue my dreams and explore so many aspects of healing without the incredible support you give me.  The overwhelming feeling of love and gratitude for each of you cannot be easily expressed, but I feel guided to try nonetheless.

With this in mind, I have decided to giveaway free coaching to two individuals, as well as significantly discounted sessions to an additional two.  While this can only reach a few people, I hope that it is a small gesture to show how much I appreciate all my followers and clients.  Please go to the Coaching Giveaway page for details and to enter.

I wish each of you an incredible holiday season as well as a New Year full of endless happiness and your dreams coming true.

Be Well,

April B.

 

Give Love.

As Thanksgiving passes here in the United States we quickly transition into the season of gift buying and giving.  I was amazed how many people this year expressed they love Thanksgiving as it is a “pressure” free holiday, filled with gratitude and spending time with family versus the upcoming expectations that come from holidays that require gift giving.  While many have reflected on the paradox of holidays such as Christmas, a spiritual day that becomes wrapped up in feelings of anxiety and stress, we have yet to create a solution that makes these days more about their purpose versus the pressures of our society.  We contemplate how to make sure we get the “perfect” gift for someone, filled with fear of judgment if we get it wrong when in fact they are probably having the same fears and thoughts.  We lose the feeling of joy that comes from giving a gift, we spend more than we can afford and we lose sight of taking care of ourselves as the holiday comes closer.

The solution is fairly simple and can be described in two little words, give love.  While Givethis idea of giving love can manifest itself as a simple and thoughtful gift, spending time with each other or ensuring you demonstrate how much appreciation you have for another, if the intent is purely to give love then the fear of judgment can melt away.  Those in our lives who are as grateful for us as we are for them will appreciate any genuine attempt to give love over a “perfect” gift.  Trusting that our intent can be seen and felt, we can release the stress and enjoy the bliss that comes from expressing what we feel in our hearts.

As you determine what you will give to others this year instead of asking questions such as “What do they want?” or “How much will they spend on me?” or “How do I match what I got them last year?”, etc. simply ask yourself one question, “How do I show them how much I love and appreciate them?”.  Take note of anything that comes up, not judging it based on its material worth or how different it is from what you usually do.  As you do this, the gratitude and love you have for others will easily rise up and guide you towards new and creative ideas.  This simple shift in perspective will allow the experience to be much more enjoyable and fulfilling for you, as well as those you are giving to.

If you feel this will be an incredible shift for you and those around you, here are ways you can make it a little easier:

  • Start the trend – Tell your friends and family that you would prefer them to not buy you gifts or to give money to your favorite charity instead of buying you something.  This will help in releasing any of the pressure of what they will give you and leave you free to be as simple or extravagant as you want.  They may still chose to give but this will release expectations.
  • Set a limit – Setting a dollar limit with those closest to you can be an easy way to eliminate the stress.  The lower you go it becomes a fun game in how to be creative with little money.  For years my husband and I have set a limit of $20 or $25 and simply require that we get creative and make it meaningful.  It is my favorite gift to buy/make every year.  I also know families where everyone, including the children, only make gifts for each other and have the simple rule of not spending any money.
  • Write a letter – When you give your “gift” whether it be something you purchased, something you made, time you spend with them, or whatever comes to mind for you; give them a letter or card expressing your intent of the “gift” and your love and appreciate for them.  Most people would take a heartfelt letter as a very touching gesture and will make any discomfort you have fade away.
  • Share this post with others – Send this to your friends and family, letting them know this is how you are approaching it this year and to expect something different.  The idea that you will be spending time truly reflecting on how to give love to them may inspire them to do the same.  This will also help you not have guilt if they give you something that may have more material worth as they knew in advance that you might not be spending much money (or any money) on them.

To get your creativity flowing here are some ideas on great ways to give love:

  • A photo collage in a beautiful frame
  • A first edition of their favorite book
  • Cooking their favorite meal or giving their favorite dessert
  • For family not close buying a ticket or airline gift card to go see them or them come see you
  • A heartfelt letter or a beautiful quote expressing your love for them in a beautiful frame
  • A day filled with activities or going places that they love
  • A beautiful box filled with little cards or pieces of paper stating what you love or appreciate about them.  They can read one-a-day all year long
  • Buying them that one thing they have always wanted but would never buy for themselves
  • A basket full of items symbolizing a special day spent together or favorite things from their childhood
  • For kids buy them your favorite toy or book from childhood and share some wonderful stories with them

This year make a point to experience the beauty of giving without the stress or pressure.  Make this season a time of love and gratitude for those in your life.  Just remember; simply give love.

Life is Hard

Everyone has struggles in life.  I have yet to meet a person that has everything perfect all the time.  Sometimes it appears that way on the surface, but if you dig deep enough, get to know someone well enough, you will see that everyone has had pain.  It may be a situation from childhood, an addiction they have overcome or physical pain you can’t see.  Most people have lost someone they love or experienced the pain of loving someone that didn’t love them back.  Life is hard for everyone.  No one moves through life unharmed.

Many people covet others lives, thinking they are easier or they don’t have any pain.  Not only is this belief untrue, it will taint you from loving every inch of your life.  They may not have the same challenge you do, but that doesn’t make their life easier.  Some people are masters at hiding pain, others move past it so quickly that you may never notice. Desiring an easy life is normal but if that causes you to envy others or lose gratitude in your own life, you may be causing yourself additional suffering.  The perspective someone chooses to take with their life, with the hard parts especially is what makes them happy, not the lack of challenges or fears.

A painful time is what gives us the opportunity to learn, grow and evolve.  People who take this perspective and find the good in even the worst situations are often the ones whose lives seem perfect.  They are the ones that appear stress-free.  The ones who others flock to and say “I wish I had your life.”  These are the people who chose not to suffer because of their pain; instead they learn from it and release it. They will cry, they will feel sadness and they will be angry but they chose to release it instead of allowing it to takeover.  Instead of living in that space of pain, they experience it and move through it.  They are then given the gift of moving into new situations without holding onto old energy or fear.

The good news is, this is a skill that can be learned.  Some are fortunate to have this as a default but most of us have to undo some perspectives we developed over time to get there.  The first step is to look at a challenge in your life right now and find the opportunity to grow from it.  What can you learn as you move through this?  How will you be a better person after this?  After you have identified this, feel genuine gratitude for the lesson you are learning.  Understand that you would not learn this lesson, in this way, without that exact challenge.  It has come to you in perfect timing to give you an opportunity to change, learn and evolve.  Be grateful and excited for the changes you will feel once you move past this.  Allow yourself to feel the pain in order to release it, but don’t fixate on it and allow yourself to suffer.  If you have many painful things in your life right now, start with the small ones and practice this.

Over time, this will become your natural default and you will become one of those people who have a “perfect” life.  

10 Things to Learn From Dogs

Anyone who knows me is well aware that I am a huge animal lover.  I have always had a pet and I often crave going into the wilderness just to hear the sounds of animals.  The reason for this is that I have always thought of animals as our greatest teachers.  They haven’t yet been “taught” how things should be so they live in their natural state.  This allows them to encompass a level of happiness we forget exists. They don’t worry about judgment or fear rejection; they just are who they are.  There is something simple and genuine about their existence that reminds me of our basic nature; which is too often lost in the world we have created.

Wilma

A great example of this comes from my own household.  I have four dogs, three of which are rescues.  These dogs have had horrific lives that I can’t even begin to imagine, yet they love any human they come in contact with.  They are constantly full of joy, loyalty and love; all of which humans tend to struggle with when they have been betrayed by those close to them.  It amazes me and I am very grateful for the lessons they teach me.

Kane

In honor of our fury teachers, below is a short list of lessons I believe dogs can teach us if we are willing to listen and be good students.  Hope you enjoy!

  1. Live in the moment – always.
  2. Be excited every time you see someone you love, and show them.
  3. Don’t hold the past against someone, especially when they aren’t the one that hurt you.
  4. Enjoy the small things like lying in the sun, going for a car ride, eating and playing with a friend.
  5. Exercise often, even if it is just running around in circles.
  6. Don’t hold back your happiness; express it with your whole body.
  7. When someone you love is having a bad day simply sit and cuddle with them.
  8. Relax and take naps, often.
  9. Don’t worry about what others think; just be who you are.
  10. Love with your whole heart and give as many kisses as you can. 

Manny

*October is adopt a shelter dog month.  For more information check out this article.  I rescued these three boxers from Boxer Luv Rescue.  There is a rescue for almost any breed in every state.  If you aren’t in a position to take in an animal you can “click to donate” and help these shelter animals on The Animal Rescue Site or Care2.  🙂