Five things I’m grateful for: Bloganuary Entry #9

Gratitude, as defined, is the quality of being thankful.

And it is truly the key to life.

I love the current movement towards finding reasons to be grateful and ways to express gratitude daily. Sometimes I feel like it’s all too easy to forget that there are so many things in every single day that we should be grateful for. The simple act of waking up every morning is a gift. It’s an underappreciated gift. It’s a gift that is often taken for granted, and sometimes it’s not even acknowledged at all.

Last year, I bought a gratitude journal. Every entry was devoted to the things in that day that I felt gratitude for. I felt like it was super easy to think of every bad thing going on around me, but I truly needed to see the brighter and bigger picture, and I needed to realize that I had so much to be grateful for. Sadly, I was hot and heavy with my entries in the beginning, but things slowed down over time. So I’m happy that this prompt came up, because it’s a great reminder to get back to acknowledging everything that I have to be grateful for. Which is a lot.

So here is what would be in my gratitude journal entry today. Today I am grateful for…:

Medical care: I could go on and on about this one. Reliable, affordable, competent medical care is just hard to quantify or even explain, so all I can say is that I’m extremely grateful to have it.

Supportive and loving family: My family is just awesome. I am grateful that I feel this way about my family, because not everyone is able to say that about theirs.

My devoted partner: Whew chile! After what I’ve been through the last few months in addition to the pandemmy, lockdown, and the craziness of the last couple years…he has both driven me crazy and kept me sane all at the same time. And I legit would not have it any other way. I am so extremely grateful for him.

Delivery services: I cannot say enough about the way that delivery services has gotten me (and the world) through the past two years. USPS, Fedex, UPS, Amazon, food and grocery delivery, and any of the shipping partners that aren’t mentioned…they have truly stepped up in these crazy and scary times. I could go on and on and on and on about their sacrifices and their hard work in a time when things are uncertain and terrifying.

Animals: I don’t currently have a pet, but that doesn’t mean that animals have not been therapeutic in my life. I swear, I can watch animal videos all day if you let me! They brighten my day, make me laugh, and just bring me entirely too much joy.

So now that I’ve made this post and this list, it’s time to pull out my journal and get back into the practice of making sure I fully acknowledge all of the wonderful things, big or small, happening around me each day. There is entirely too much to be grateful for, and when it’s super easy to talk about what’s wrong in the world, I need to just as easily remember the good things around me.

If you had to pick something that you are grateful for today, no matter what scale it’s on, what would it be? I’d love to hear it!

Someone I admire: Bloganuary Entry #5

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

This is a really hard prompt because there are truly inspirational and admirable people everywhere. But it’s pretty fair to say that most of the people I admire are women. And even more specifically, they are women in my family. You can close your eyes and pick pretty much any one of them, and you will find someone who has set and amazing example of being a good mother, sister, aunt, matriarch, trailblazer, free thinker, supporter, etc. It is truly hard, no…impossible, to pick only one person to write about. And frfr, I don’t want to poke the hornet’s nest of picking out just one person.

So instead of picking one particular person that I admire, let me tell you five traits that I find are common in the many people I admire.

They choose kindness. Every woman in my family has been through something. And yet they are all the sweetest, kindest people on the whole planet. Yes, I said the whole entire planet!

They stand up for themselves and for others. They all do it in different ways. Ranging from timid and subtle to brazen and spitfire, they have their own approaches, but they speak up. And their approaches are actually quite fascinating. I’ve noticed that there’s a time and a place for each method, and I’ve even used some myself.

Despite obstacles, they persevere. Life is clearly full of challenges. Being able to face those challenges, no matter how big or small, and come out ahead is no easy feat. Watching the women in my life tackle challenges and come out being better and stronger is so powerful and encouraging. They tackle motherhood and marriages and the workforce and entrepreneurship, and of course all of the daily nuances that life can present. Being able to watch them face challenges and persevere gives me so much strength in my own life.

Through actions or through words, they impart wisdom. There is a takeaway from every encounter. Whether it’s a recipe, a history lesson, a mantra about life, a tip for the daily struggle, or a lesson in what not to do, there’s always something to learn.

They love hard. There is never any question about who they love and how much they love them. They express it in their actions and with their words. Often. And without shame.

It may be hard to pick one or even three top people that you admire. But do you notice a commonality among people that make your list? I’d love to hear what you admire about the people you admire!

Non-Artists Can Still Appreciate Art Museums

“Feed your soul with art.”

People say I’m creative. Idk. I guess maybe. But I do not feel like I’m an “art” person. Not in its traditional sense. At least I don’t feel like I am. There’s some art that I can appreciate, I like color combinations, I can appreciate some objects, I like textures and photography, and I like things that tell a story. But for me to get it, it needs to be pretty straight forward.

So for that reason, I feel as though I am not an art person.

I try to get something out of each art piece that I look at, but sometimes I just don’t get it. And if something is abstract AND called “Untitled” AND there’s no explanation for the piece…that’s really tough for me. When it comes to art, I either like it or don’t like it, and though I occasionally do feel something emotional about a piece for whatever reason, there really are a lot of things that I just don’t understand.

But that didn’t stop me from looking up local things to do and visiting the contemporary art museum just a few miles away.

I’ve always enjoyed being a tourist in my own town. Having wanderlust is great and all, but no matter where you are, there are usually plenty of things to see and do without going far. And now that I’m staying put in Maryland for a bit, it’s even more important to figure out ways to entertain myself locally. So the art museum it was!

On the way to the museum, we drove through some absolutely amazing neighborhoods. We passed multi-million dollar homes, and pulled into the museum parking lot. From there, we were directed to the Arrival Hall, where we were given a map of the property and a brief rundown of the art path, the pavilions, and the overall gist of the space.

Glenstone is a place that seamlessly integrates art, architecture, and nature into a serene and contemplative environment.

The art installations were both indoors and outdoors, which was really cool. There was a walking path that was maybe about a mile around with some outdoor sculptures and exhibits along the way.

Then there were five indoor pavilions that also housed artwork. We visited on a day that was personally very intense, and being in such a serene and peaceful environment on an unseasonably warm winter day was exactly what I needed. The walking, the fresh air, the views, the calm…for me, that was the highlight of the experience. And though I’m not an art person, there were a couple of pieces that sparked discussions between my boyfriend and me. But overall, I enjoyed the calm, the nature, the serenity, and just holding my boyfriend’s hand as we took in the ambiance.

The website for the museum really didn’t tell me a lot. I had no idea what to really expect, and I guess that’s by design. When we arrived, we were told that there was also minimal descriptive information about each piece because they want you to interpret the art in your own way. Some pieces I could interpret pretty easily, or I could find something interesting about it, or the shock factor that I believed the artist was striving for was well achieved.

As a “non-art” person, I may not have had the takeaway that the artists wanted me to have, but I still enjoyed the art museum experience and here’s why:

  • Everyone’s experience with art is not supposed to be the same, and I loved my experience
  • I was having a really stressful week and the nature, minimalism, and serenity brought me peace and calmed me down
  • The museum created a platform for me to use my imagination
  • Some exhibits were thought provoking and stirring
  • Some exhibits were confusing and puzzling, and that’s ok
  • Some exhibits made me more curious about the installation logistics than the art, which made me realize I use a different side of my brain, and I found that actually quite humorous
  • The hours spent there were a wonderful escape from the day-to-day
  • It has been a couple of weeks, and I still think back to some of the exhibits and contemplate their meanings

So maybe I didn’t have the types of thoughts that the artist intended, but I enjoyed my visit and I plan to return.

Are you an art person? When was the last time you visited an art museum?

art museum, things to do in Maryland, Glenstone Art Museum

Weekly Mindset: Appreciate the Simple Things

I’m totally appreciating so many things right now. I took a walk today at lunch, and frolicked (if you will) a little. I even played around on the neighborhood playground and giggled. I realized how that little bit of play brightened my mood pretty significantly.

It brought back memories from childhood when my friends and I used to create obstacle courses on my swing set. It got my heart pumping. The air made me smile. Plus my endorphins were flowing. It was so simple and such a mood booster.

“As the heart flourishes, the mind eases, and so gratitude practice can help to lessen our experience of anxiety and stress, improve the quality of our sleep, and enhance the equanimity we find within ourselves and within our relationships at large.”

mindfulexercises.com

Appreciating simple things has certain benefits, such as improved sleep quality, overall mood improvement and improved emotional regulation.

Author and thought leader Mike Robbins says that there are two things that can help you to appreciate the simple things. They are 1) being easily impressed and 2) being hard to offend. When we are appreciating life’s small miracles, we are opening ourselves up to being grateful and fulfilled.

| feeling the earth beneath my feet |

This makes me think of a conversation I just had about celebrating birthdays. For one person, a small celebration is an evening outing to the local Top Golf. Whereas for another person, a small celebration is a quick trip to Vegas or a week in Dubai. I would never say that someone shouldn’t treat themselves however they see fit, or that people shouldn’t aim high, but it’s easy to see how one is more attainable than the other. Attainable, simple joys are needed just as much as large scale treats and rewards. But if you only look forward to the large scale events, how do you enjoy your daily life? Every day just will not be a trip overseas. How do you find a reason to smile each day or to feel grateful for the little things that make life wonderful?

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I believe in appreciating the small things, and this week that list includes:

  • the amazing crisp fall air
  • the BEAUTIFUL leaves and all of their awesome colors
  • being able to be a digital nomad
  • a healthy family
  • my health
  • good shows to binge watch
  • amazing friends
  • a healthy relationship
  • stable employment
  • access to modern healthcare
  • a roof over my head
  • safety
  • a neighbor who plays the saxophone (after living next to HORRIBLE, loud, aggressive neighbors)
  • peace

There are so many daily things to appreciate. And the benefits of acknowledging the little things in life are wonderful for your mental and physical well-being. Don’t just save appreciation and gratefulness for the holidays. Do it today, and do it often. I’m going to make it part of my daily routine.

What are you grateful for this week?

A Reflective Moment

Photo by Sarah li on Pexels.com

I got some sad news this week about the passing of a high school classmate. The whole thing just hit me in such a weird way. I wasn’t particularly close to this classmate, but I went to such a small school in a small town so everyone in my school knew everyone in some way. Even as a grown-up 25 years after graduation, if you hear a name, you immediately remember the classes you had, or how you went on a class trip, or how you crushed on so-and-so’s older brother, or how you used to play kickball in the cul-de-sac.

So I heard about this classmate, I saw a recent picture of her, and though I could see remnants of the person I remembered, her face in the picture carried the weight of the mental illness that she lived with throughout her adult life. I had no idea. She was a popular girl. A cheerleader. Cute as a button and sweet as can be. Her life was supposed to turn out perfectly. She was supposed to be the one we admired at the reunion because everything turned out as perfectly as you’d expect for the adorable, smart, bubbly cheerleader from high school. She rode on floats and got lifted to the top of pyramids. She was kind. Seeing that picture, with the wrinkles and dark circles, yet with the slight glimmer of the cheerleader from days past that I remember…and reading the family tributes about how things were for her later in life, it all just settled on me so heavily.

Of course your life is more than a picture, and there’s no telling what twists and turns life can throw at anyone over the course of 25 years. You never know what people are dealing with and what demons they battle. You don’t know what trauma they encountered or how that trauma impacted their life. She wasn’t someone I’d keep in touch with but she’s definitely someone I assumed would go on to great things and someone I thought would live well. It threw me for such a complete loop.

It’s all just a weird and sad reminder to be grateful for my health, to not make assumptions about what someone is going through, to live while I can, that life is short and that tomorrow is never promised.