Word Of The Day – Celebration

I don’t know about you, but I sure do love a good party! Lots of balloons, good food, sweet drinks, happy people, music, dancing, bright lights, maybe some singing and a toast or two. I’m not even sure I need a reason or a real occasion. It can just be a Thursday evening or a spontaneous happening.

I love happy gatherings with laughter and plenty of joy and goodwill. I especially enjoy celebrating the little things in life.

Everyone has a party for the big occasions, like Christmas, New Years and their Birthday, right? But what about giving a big cheer for a rainy day or for the first day of school or for passing the drivers test?

Celebrations are like little “thank you” notes to the world and those we love. There’s so many things to be thankful for that deserve some extra sparkle and shine. I can think of hundreds, maybe more.

Sometimes a celebration can be small with just two people enjoying a special event together. Sometimes it is planned in advance with a structure and a timetable. Sometimes it happens completely in the moment with a spontaneous idea. Sometimes it involves many people gathering from many places in a miraculous union. Sometimes it is colorful, loud and rowdy. Sometimes it is quiet, solemn and reverent.

I think the more grateful we are, the more we feel like celebrating. And the reverse is also true – having a celebratory heart makes us more grateful. They go hand in hand.

Having a celebratory heart is a learned skill. It can be developed, honed and sharpened. A grateful heart just naturally feels joyful, happy and playful. And a party will follow!!!

I have very fond memories of celebrations large – weddings, births, funerals, reunions – and small – grandson’s drawing being chosen for display, lunches with friends, quilt show awards, hugs from my husband.

Some are so tender in my memory, I can still cry thinking of them. That’s how important it is to mark these moments in our lives. It is imperative that we make events memorable and special, that we remember to be grateful for each little second that we are given.

To celebrate is to remember.

To remember is to be grateful.

Word Of The Day – Thankful

When my now 16-year-old grandson Mac was much younger, I tried to always remind him to say “thank you” whenever someone did him a service or a kindness. It seemed like I was reminding him every few minutes, every day. He once asked me why he had to do that EVERY TIME!!!! I said because he needed to learn how to be thankful.

But I wonder now if that really is what thankfulness is all about. It seems a little too easy – maybe a little too shallow. (Of course he was just a little boy!)

As we grow and mature, maybe our gratitude should grow with us. Or should I say deepen and spread out like roots and branches on a tree.

Being thankful is more than just quickly responding to things or words being handed to us usually because we request them. That is the tip top of the iceberg of gratitude.

Let’s start with being given life itself. Can we be thankful for being born, maybe in a family, maybe in a community or a village? How about friends, colleagues, buddies and coworkers? Do we not treasure our parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, teachers, mentors and heroes?

How do we express gratitude for all that has been given to us, that we don’t even deserve? Our physical, mental, emotional and psychological strengths that were handed to us at birth and molded by our experiences, the love, the support, the laughter, the discipline, the education we absorbed from our surroundings – where are the words to express the depth of gratitude we feel?

To be honest, there are not enough words in any language to fully say “thank you” for a true gift such as a whole life.

The big, the small . . . every gift has its importance. And each requires more than a nod or a handshake to be truly appreciated.

Thankfulness can be learned and taught . . . and should be! Mostly it is taught by the act of doing, as we elders know.

I think the first step to deep thankfulness is to treasure the gift. Give it honor. Don’t waste it.

Use the gift joyfully and to its fullest potential. Be proud of it.

Tell the giver how you are using the gift. Do this often. Communicate in any way possible.

Protect the gift. Don’t let others dishonor it, sully it, belittle it or steal it.

When it is time, share the gift with others. If possible, give the gift to a younger one and teach them to use it.

This is true thankfulness!! Pass it on!!

Gratitude Scavenger Hunt

1- Find something that makes you smile

2- Find something you have today that you didn’t have yesterday

3- Find something that smells really good

4- Find something beautiful to look at

5- Find something in your favorite color

6- Find something you have wished to have for a long time and now you do

7- Find something you are thankful for in nature

8- Find something you took for granted and now see as a special gift

9- Find something that is soft and cuddly to touch

10- Find something that you use everyday

11- Find something you almost got rid of and now are grateful you didn’t

12- Without buying a thing, find a way to say “thank you” to someone in your life

13- Find someone who knows all about you and loves you anyway

14- Find a favorite food and give it a taste

15- Find that special pet and give him/her a big cuddle

16- Find something you would like to draw a picture of

17- Find something that makes a lovely sound

18- Find something that reminds you of a special person or event

19- Find that something you would grab first if your house were on fire

20- Find the perfect resting spot and contemplate all the gratitude you feel!!!!

A Waitress At Walgreens

When I was in high school – let’s see, that was in the 60’s! – our Walgreens had a restaurant area.  It was sort of a diner with a counter with stools.  Very retro now, but commonplace at the time.

I worked there after school and for two summers my last year of high school.  I was the youngest one there, not counting the busboys.

Even so, I was always on the cash register when I worked.  I never understood that.  Was I the only one that could count?

I did learn to give change the proper way, however, which is a big pet peeve of mine to this day, when I get all my change handed to me in a pile.  I don’t know what to do with a clump of change.

Anyway, we carried everything on big metal trays.  Until the day I spilled six tall milk shakes in glass containers that broke when they hit the floor.  That was an interesting day.

I learned to carry five plates of food at one time.  I can still do that today.  It really impresses the grandchildren.

Every Saturday, I manned the counter, which was a nightmare.  Hundreds of kids coming in, wanting a water and a Coke.  I would tell them, “You can have one or the other, not both.”  I wasn’t going to work that hard for no tip.

And usually on those Saturdays, I didn’t make enough in tips to buy my meal.

And then once a month we had a hot dog stand, which was manned by, guess who?  Yes, me!  Again, a million kids and no tips.  A waitress’s nightmare.

But did I learn a lot working in the little diner!  The experience changed my life totally for the better.

Whenever I got discouraged about continuing on in school, I would look at the other waitresses.  They were mostly single, in their forties, supporting families on what they made working at our little Walgreens.  The encouraged me daily to stay in school and further my education.

I learned perserverence and devotion from a wonderful man who brought his autistic son to the counter every Saturday.  It was their routine.  The son never spoke but the dad always laughed and smiled.  He seemed to be having the best time, when it must have been so difficult for him.

Two of my favorite waitresses pierced my ears in the stock room one day.  My one single act of rebellion in high school.  It felt wonderful and I wasn’t a bit afraid.

One of the greatest things I learned from those wonderful waitresses was to be kind and gracious to everyone.  Greet everyone with a smile and a lilt in your voice.  Give a bit more than is asked of you.  And always be proud of your work.  Whatever you do, do your best. Work as a team.

While I was working there, a few waitresses learned that the busboys were eating some of the leftover food they were picking up from the tables.  This bothered them so, that they got other waitresses to start splitting their tips with the boys so they could buy their meals. This really impressed me at the time and has stayed with me my whole life.  The fact that people who have so little would be willing to give to those who have even less.  I’ve never forgotten.

Those days at Walgreens were wonderful.  I learned to be a fast and efficient waitress.  I learned to talk “diner.”  I learned what return customers meant by “the usual.”

I learned to be responsible and handled money.  I became more grown up.  I took my lickings with a smile.  I was proud of my paycheck.

I owe those waitresses a lot.  More than they ever knew.  They helped my grow.  They helped me mature.  They kept me in school.

In so many ways they have affected my whole life.

Thank you, ladies!

My Life Lately

Things are so different right now, I am having trouble adjusting.  I used to have a full schedule.  I knew what I was going to do every day.  My calendar was black from written-in events for the month.

Now the calendar is blank white, my schedule is empty and every day I have to think about what to do with my time.  My life has completely changed on a dime with no preparation or warning.

Building a good day does not just happen on its own anymore.  I have to plan it.When I wake up, I have to decide this is going to be a good day.  Attitude is everything.

Taking it a day at a time can be too hard under the current stress.  It’s better to look at the short term and maybe take it hour by hour.  I find if I set very small goals, I do much better.  Being successful six times a day feels so good right now or even just twice is okay.

My sewing is giving me a lot of pleasure right now.  It is lovely to be able to touch and pet my fabrics at a time when I cannot touch others.  My sewing also gives me purpose and calms my mind.

I can be at my sewing machine for hours and not even realize how much time has passed. It’s good therapy for me in many ways.  Sewing helps me make a day good.

I’ve also found that what I look for, I find.  If I look for humor in my day, I usually find it.  The same with beauty, joy and peace.

Of course, if I set my mind on anxiety and stress, I will find that too.  It’s up to me.  It’s always up to me.

Even when I can’t hug them, my friends remain so valuable to me.  I try to stay in touch with them as often as possible.  I make a point to call someone every day.  And occasionally have group meetings online, when able.  Seeing friends’ faces is so precious.

And then there’s my sweetie, who makes everyday a joy.  He adds calmness, humor and logic to my life.  How blessed am I to have such a rock in my life.   He makes all things bearable and worthwhile.

So getting through these times will take planning, forethought and some organization. Keeping a positive attitude is the harder, but more important part.

I have to give it my all each and every day.  Each and every hour really.  But these are historic times.  Think of the stories I will have to tell in the years to come.

Our True Heritage

By Thich Nhat Hanh

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.

I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.

Each moment you are alive is a gem, shining and containing earth and sky, water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently for the miracles to be displayed.

Suddenly you hear the birds singing, the pines chanting, see the flowers blooming, the blue sky, the white clouds, the smile and marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth, who have been going around begging for a living, stop being the destitute child.

Come back and claim your heritage.

We should enjoy our happiness and offer it to everyone.

Cherish this very moment.

Let go of the stream of distress and embrace life fully in your arms.

 

What’s Right About Being Wrong

I am wrong, often.  And when I am, I feel terrible about it.  But what if something good could come from my errors?  What if the world could become a better place?  What if I could become a much better person?

When I make a mistake, my first instinct is to feel shame and I want to hide myself.  But maybe it’s an opportunity to feel humility and begin to forgive myself.  I’m not alone in my wrongful ways.  I could forgive someone else.  Why not me?

Apologies are next forthcoming.  I apologize – usually many times.  This is a good lesson in acceptance of our own behavior.  We have to be able to put into words what we have done wrong and how we have harmed another person.

Then the next thing I feel is the need to be forgiven by the other person.  To ask for and accept forgiveness is a true blessing.  It may not be easy but it is certainly necessary.

Making amends is the part that is most often forgotten.  Making things right again is hard. It takes time.  It takes effort.  It takes thought.  We think we’re done when we have been forgiven, but we’re not.  We need to make restitution.  That makes us stronger and more mindful of other people.

Then there is the final lesson to be learned from the entire event.  What is the positive thing you learned from your mistake?  Don’t let all the time and effort be a waste.  Make your life and yourself better for it.  Gain something from the experience.

That way you are less likely to allow the same error to occur.  You will improve and definitely become wiser.

I’m thinking that with all the mistakes I’ve made in my life, I should be perfect by now! Seriously!

But truthfully, mistakes are going to happen.  Make them growth opportunities.  Lean into them.  Admit to them.  Solve them.  Be better for them.  Learn the lesson.

What I’m Really Afraid Of

In these trying times, the TV is constantly telling us what we should fear – closeness, touching, disease, crowds, people, coughs, germs, viruses.  These things may be of concern to me, but I’m not really afraid.  There are other things that truly frighten me.

Allowing people, especially children, to live in hunger frightens me.  People are so damaged physically and psychologically by the effects of poor nutrition or no nutrition. That, in turn, damages our whole world.  We all become less by the loss of potential in others.   Leaders, teachers, thinkers and artists are lost because of poverty and hunger.

Allowing hate and bigotry to exist frightens me.  Judging people unfairly by their religion or skin color is so divisive.  Teaching children to hate others is so wicked as to be absolutely sinful.  Our world can’t abide any more division and war.

Allowing and participating in greed frightens me.  Greed leads to the oppression and subjugation of people.  There’s enough for everyone but not enough for everyone’s greed. To meet the needs of someone’s greed, someone else will always have to do without. Hence more poverty and hunger.

Abiding violence frightens me.  Our violent selves are our lesser selves and should not be tolerated.  What comes of violence is more violence, not peace.  And that really scares me.

These are the true dangers of our world, I believe.  These are the things we need be aware of and mindful of.

Even while we are quarantined, we can be aware of the needs of others.  We can be fair and kind to all people.  We can share the wealth with everyone.  We can be calm and gentle in all our interactions.

The treatment of the whole world starts with our treatment of every person in our small world.  How we act in every little situation will affect the entire universe.  We can do healing or harm with every spoken word.

Make every action count.  It will become your habit and your character.