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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

May 29, 2015 Edition In a center that provides services for women and children in need, a small floral bouquet sits in a vase. Sunlight streams in from a window and illuminates a rose, making its outer petals glow. Incredibly, this beautiful example of nature transforms an old fire station, which houses the center, into a cozy and joyful place. Joy is everywhere, if you look for it. It’s in the little things in life.

#1 – Spread Joy
Finding joy makes for a life of never-ending gratitude. Don’t limit yourself to just looking for joy, however. How about spreading some? Here is a little booklet that lists 150 Ways to Spread Joy. Indeed, what goes around, comes around.Spreading Joy

#2 – Kitchen Help
Kitchen Infographics Imagine my joy when I found all of these cooking infographics on one site! Almost everything anyone needs to know about cooking and baking can be found on one of these 25 Must-See Diagrams That Will Make Cooking Super Easy.

#3 – Norway Calls
27 Reasons Why You Must Visit Norway
After looking at the photos in 27 Reasons Why You Must Visit Norway in 2015, I had to add another country to my bucket list. I’m positive there must be more than 27 reasons to visit Norway!

#4 – Starfish Story
Starfish Story This story speaks of the power of one. We each possess the power to enact positive change in the world:

Once upon a time, there was an old man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach every morning before he began his work. Early one morning, he was walking along the shore after a big storm had passed and found the vast beach littered with starfish as far as the eye could see, stretching in both directions.

Off in the distance, the old man noticed a small boy approaching. As the boy walked, he paused every so often and as he grew closer, the man could see that he was occasionally bending down to pick up an object and throw it into the sea. The boy came closer still and the man called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean. The tide has washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the sea by themselves,” the youth replied. “When the sun gets high, they will die, unless I throw them back into the water.”

The old man replied, “But there must be tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”

The boy bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it as far as he could into the ocean. Then he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one!”

Adapted from The Star Thrower, by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

#5 – Joy
“Joy is the simplest form of gratitude.”
Karl Barth

Now go and spread joy!

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Fall Fruit Thanksgiving is but a day, but the practice of giving thanks should be lifelong. Life is fickle and can change instantaneously, so there is no time like the present to show gratitude to those whom you care about the most. Tell them what they mean to you. Tell them that they matter to you. Tell them how they make a difference in your life. Being grateful re-centers and puts life into perspective. That being said, I would like to express my gratitude to all of you who take the time to read What About This? You encourage me to become a better person as I work to improve my blogging skills, as I discover new items to share with you, and as I find more ways to spread joy. Thank you for all you have given to me.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.

It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.

Melody Beattie

Now go and spread joy!

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Flower with Bee During the time it took my camera lens to focus on a vermilion-colored blossom, a bee landed on it, dove into the center headfirst, and then flew off. Hurriedly, I pressed the shutter button. “Did I get the shot or not,” I wondered. On playback, I was pretty happy about getting a decent photo of the flower, but capturing the image of the bee made me even happier. Happiness comes into our lives in different degrees. Grab and appreciate every bit you can get.

#1 – The Science of Happiness
Called “An Experiment in Gratitude,” this video of a project from SoulPancake depicts the relationship between expressing gratitude and feeling happy.

#2 – Genius Ideas
Genius Decorating Ideas Discovering clever new ideas, especially those that involve upcycling, makes me happy. Check out these “31 Genius Ideas For Reimagining Home Decor.” It may be too late for me to build a Lego wall for my kids, but there’s still time to do so for my grandkids!

#3 – Just Peachy
Crab Salad With Peaches and AvocadosMaking homemade peach ice cream is a fun summertime tradition for my family. But after drooling over 62 Fresh Summer Peach Recipes, I’m going to make my family even happier. I’m shaking up my peach recipe repertoire. How does a Crab Salad with Peaches and Avocados sound to you?

#4 – Quiet, Please!
10 Most Beautiful Places to Read Books If you love to find quiet places to read, you’ll appreciate the Top 10 Most Beautiful Places to Read Books. They include both quaint and impressive libraries from around the world.

#5 – Your Choice
“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

Go now and spread joy!

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Santa Fe Blossoms They were everywhere, but nobody knew their name. Pretty trees covered with delicate rose-like blossoms decorated the streets of a town I recently visited. Fixated with their beauty and wanting to plant one in my own garden, I asked around for help identifying the trees. I even carried a photo of the blossoms on my smartphone. No one could tell me the species of the trees, not even people who had lived in the city for their entire lives. Many responses sounded like, “What trees? Oh, those trees. Don’t know.” Some people didn’t even realize the trees were in bloom. How could this be? How could trees that make our world more beautiful go unnoticed? And how could we take the world around us so much for granted? We see, but are we seeing?

#1 – Possibilities
Fun DIY Craft Ideas Do you throw “junk” away only to discover similar items cleverly refurbished and for sale at thrift stores, flea markets, and “vintage” stores? Do you think to yourself, “I wish I hadn’t thrown my _______ away. If I’d only known it would make such a nice _______, I would have saved it.” Where you saw lack of potential, someone else saw possibilities. If everyone could see such transformative possibilities, there would be less waste in our landfills. Use your imagination. To get your creative juices going, here are a few Fun DIY Craft Ideas. What happened to the child in you who built forts out of pillows or made cakes out of mud?

#2 – DIY Father’s Day Gifts
40 DIY Father's Day Gift Ideas Don’t take your father for granted. Show him how much you care and how much he means to you by making him a special gift. Brit + Co. provides some great ideas in their post titled 40 DIY Father’s Day Gift Ideas. Dad is sure to love anything you make, but the Whiskey, Caramel, Marshmallow, and Bacon Bark looks really good to me!

#3 – A Splash Of Sea Water
Photo of Magnified Drop of Water What’s in that gulp of sea water you just swallowed? “Not much?” you say? Well, check out this photograph of “one dip of a hand net” into sea water by David Littschwager. It’s been magnified 25 times. Read about all the aquatic flora and fauna you take for granted, too!

#4 – Being Grateful
Rainbow Thinking: What Are You Grateful For? Writing in a gratitude journal is one way of keeping life in perspective. No matter how bad your day has been, there’s bound to be something for which you are grateful. The site Rainbow Thinking focuses on gratitude by allowing people to anonymously submit entries about what they are grateful for and by posting the submissions of other people. What are you grateful for?

#5 – What Makes It Different?
“You can take for granted that people know more or less what a street, a shop, a beach, a sky, an oak tree look like. Tell them what makes this one different.”
Neil Gaiman

Go now and spread joy!

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Poppies and Oaks Take a walk through this photo with me. What do you see? Trees? Yes, what kind of trees? Flowers? How many different colored flowers are there? Looking at the shadows, from what direction is the sun shining? How observant are you when you are out and about? When you go for a walk, do you take in the sights, the sounds, and the smells that bombard your senses or do you push the sensory inputs away? Although it’s nice to chat with friends or listen to a book or music while walking, every now and then try being fully present during a walk and be grateful for the wondrous world around you.

#1 – The Gift of the Present
20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day Do you feel as if you operate on autopilot most of the time? The hustle and bustle of our days can carry us million of miles away from the present moment and distract us from reveling in the only moment we have for sure. Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. wrote an article called, 20 Calming or Invigorating Mini Meditations You Can Practice Every Day. Whether you practice meditation or not, read through her list and select one of the entries to try today. You might find that, as a result, you are a kinder, more patient, and more focused person. I appreciated the entire list, but these five entries resonated with me:

Think of your mind as a swinging door. “Thoughts and feelings come in and out, like people. Be the door, not the doorman.”

When you turn on the faucet, focus on the bigger picture. “See the water flowing down from the glaciers and mountains, running deep into the earth, sustaining you and all life.”

Visualize a mountain lake with a smooth, glassy surface. A breeze sends ripples across the water. As the breeze quiets down, so do the ripples, and the water returns to being smooth. When something ruffles you, return to this visualization. “Feel the ripples and then let them settle.”

When you get home from work, every day, stand in front of your door and appreciate the moment. Rejoice in it. “Breathe in and out three times.”

As you’re trying to fall asleep, “imagine that with each breath you are melting into an ocean of light and space.”

#2 – The Bottom of the Jar
Whole Foods Condiments Do you throw away bottles or jars of ketchup, mustard, or mayonnaise when just a little bit remains in the container? The next time you’re in that situation, don’t throw it away. Try creating something new by using one of these recipes from Whole Foods. For example, did you know that you could make Caesar Dressing or Honey Mustard Marinade with just the tablespoon or two that’s normally left at the bottom?

# 3 – Discard Art
Hey, how many times do I have to tell you not to throw stuff away? Instead, use your imagination and let your inner artist come out. You could create:

Giant Fish Sculptures from Discarded Plastic Bottles
Fish Sculpture From Discarded Bottles

Dresses From Recycled Materials Money Dress: Dress ,made from recycled materials


Stacked Book Sculptures
Used Book Sculptures


Watch Part Sculptures
Watch Part Sculptures

Junk Part Portraits Junk Parts Portraits

#4 – A Letter From Dad
A Letter From a Father to His Daughter Dr. Kelly Flanigan, a therapist, wrote a inspirational and thought-provoking letter to his young daughter about relationships. Every person, not just women, should read it. Relationships are two-way streets and both parties must know their worth and must recognize the value in themselves.

#5 – Just A Moment
“Dance. Smile. Giggle. Marvel. TRUST. HOPE. LOVE. WISH. BELIEVE. Most of all, enjoy every moment of the journey, and appreciate where you are at this moment instead of always focusing on how far you have to go.”
― Mandy Hale, The Single Woman: Life, Love, and a Dash of Sass

Be in the present. Now go and spread joy!

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Kishu Mandarins

Watching fierce winds whip the branches of a small Kishu Mandarin tree forced me to make a quick decision. With a trunk no wider than an inch and tiny branches heavy with fruit, I worried that the tree might break under stress. With a pair of pruners and a basket, I harvested all the fruit from the tree, being grateful for its abundant crop. Considering that this is its first year of bearing fruit and it’s container-grown, this little tree did itself proud.

#1 – Gratitude
“Gratitude provides for us even when we think we have nothing or no one. Because we do have many things and people in our lives. Gratitude just lifts the opaque veil from our eyes so we can see that more clearly.” This passage from the article 3 Ways to Cultivate Gratitude highlights the simple fact that even when we think we have nothing, there still must be something for which we can be grateful. In addition, it suggests maintaining a gratitude journal to help keep life in perspective.

#2 – Falling Leaves
The winds are also blowing down beautiful autumn leaves. When I take walks in my neighborhood, I carry an empty plastic bag in which I can transport home my newly found treasures, freshly picked off the ground. I’ve researched ways to preserve and display leaves. Here are some techniques and ideas I found that will let me enjoy the beauty of leaves for a long time to come:

Skeleton Leaves how to make skeleton leaves How to Preserve the Beauty of Fall Foliage how to preserve leaves

Fall Leaf Candle Holder fall leaf candle holder

Very Cute Leaf Animals
animal leaf art

Easy Leaf Prints how to make leaf prints

#3 – Cork It!
wine cork wreath I can never resist sharing ways to reuse, re-purpose or upcycle things. Here are some Awesome DIY Ideas With Wine Corks. Included are a few holiday-themed projects. Check them out!

#4 – For the Love of a Dog

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Fiona Apple and her dog Janet

Singer-songwriter and pianist Fiona Apple wrote a touching four-page, handwritten letter to her South American fans explaining why she needed to postpone her tour there. This may be old news for some of you, but I thought it was worth posting for those who have not read it yet. Read a small excerpt below and then click here to read Fiona’s touching letter in its entirety. Animal lovers, be advised, have tissues in hand:

It’s 6pm on Friday,and I’m writing to a few thousand friends I have not met yet.
I am writing to ask them to change our plans and meet a little while later.
Here’s the thing.
I have a dog Janet, and she’s been ill for almost two years now, as a tumor has been idling in her chest, growing ever so slowly. She’s almost 14 years old now.I got her when she was 4 months old. I was 21 then ,an adult offi
cially – and she was my child.
She is a pitbull, and was found in Echo Park, with a rope around her neck, and bites all over her ears and face.
She was the one the dogfighters use to puff up the confidence of the contenders.
She’s almost 14 and I’ve never seen her start a fight ,or bite, or even growl, so I can understand why they chose her for that awful role. She’s a pacifist.
Janet has been the most consistent relationship of my adult life, and that is just a fact.
We’ve lived in numerous houses, and jumped a few make shift families, but it’s always really been the two of us . . . .
She slept in bed with me, her head on the pillow, and she accepted my hysterical, tearful face into her chest, with her paws around me, every time I was heartbroken, or spirit-broken, or just lost, and as years went by, she let me take the role of her child, as I fell asleep, with her chin resting above my head . . . .

#5 – Success
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.”
Maya Angelou

Have a lovely weekend!

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As the doctor looked at my eye through a scope and leaned in with a pair of tweezers to remove one of the filaments that had grown on my cornea, I chastised myself for taking my eyesight for granted. I try to lead a grateful life and consider myself fortunate that I have so many things for which I am grateful, but sometimes it is easy to become aloof towards the most fundamental. My eye is fine now, but that does not mean more filaments won’t form in the future. This past week “opened my eyes” on how my world might change if I could not see.

#1 – Bottled Water
Many of us who live in the United States take clean water for granted. We should be grateful that potable water comes to us with a flick of the wrist. Even though we have safe drinking water, many people prefer to drink bottled water.  But what are the realities behind bottled water? Here are some facts about bottled water presented by Online Education:
The Facts About Bottled Water

#2 – Workout Food

I show respect and gratitude towards my body by eating healthy foods and exercising it. Because I tend to ignore my alarm clock and wake up late, I usually grab a banana before I workout at the gym. But after reading this article, Foods for Workouts: Cardio from Food Network’s Healthy Eats, I realized that if I woke up earlier I could justify eating a lot more food!

#3 – Forty Photos
The world we live in is amazing and these forty photos prove it. They are among the thousands of photos entered into the 24th annual National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest 2012. Spectacular images were submitted from around the world and the lucky winners will be announced in August. Want to see all of the contest entries? Click here.

#4 – Life According to Einstein

You can learn more than just physics when reading about Albert Einstein. Here’s an article from the site Dumb Little Man called 10 Amazing Life Lessons You Can Learn From Albert Einstein.

#5 – Just Be Grateful
You cannot be grateful and bitter.
You cannot be grateful and unhappy.
You cannot be grateful and without hope.
You cannot be grateful and unloving.
So just be grateful.

Author Unknown

Fill your weekend with gratitude. On Saturday, think about all the people in your life that you are grateful for and then on Sunday tell them how you feel! 

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Full of gratitude. It’s a reoccurring theme on this blog, as well as a meaningful phrase for one of my dear friends. Because I am grateful to have her in my life and because she’s helped me to rekindle my “spark,” I made her this necklace. With less than one week before Thanksgiving, let’s all make the time to stop what we are doing – planning menus, working, cleaning house, chauffeuring kids, etc. – to reflect on the many things we are grateful for and to show gratitude to everyone in our lives.

#1 – Say Thanks!
Although Thanksgiving is celebrated in the United States and Canada as a harvest festival, the island of Grenada and the city of Leiden in the Netherlands also celebrate a Thanksgiving Day. But why only say thanks once a year? Here are a few different ways to say thanks or thank you in other languages. You never know when this knowledge might come in handy – maybe even the next time you go out to eat!! Click here to see the entire list.

Chinese (Mandarin) – Xie_Xie (shieh shieh)
Chinese (Cantonese) Do jeh (tou yeh) (formal: thanks)
Czech – Dekuji (deh’-ku-yih)
French – merci (mehr-see’)
German – Danke (dahn’-kuh)
Greek – Efharisto (ef-har-ris-tou’)
Hawaiian – Mahalo
Italian – Grazie (grahts’-yeh)
Japanese – Arigato (ah-ree-gah’-toh)
Korean – Kamsa hamaida (kam’-sah hum-nee-dah’ )
Malaysian – Terima Kasih (“Tay ree ma Kaa seh”)
Polish – Dziekuje (dsyehn-koo-yeh)
Russian – Spasiba (spah-see’-boh)
Spanish – Gracias (grah’-syas)
Swedish – Tack (tahkk)
Tahitian – Maururu

#2 – Paper Art
When I create my cards, I enjoy cutting and manipulating pieces of paper, but here is a series of photos that takes paper art to a whole other level!

#3 – Spells
It’s November and everyone is as excited as can be! Not for Thanksgiving necessarily, but for the release of the new Harry Potter film. You’ll be grateful that you know the difference between the Alohomora spell and the Finite Incantatem spell. Brush up on your knowledge with Wikipedia’s Harry Potter Spells before you see the movie!

#4 -What Money Cannot Buy
The Norwegian writer Arne Garborg once wrote this:
It is said that for money you can have everything, but you cannot. You can buy food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; knowledge, but not wisdom; glitter, but not beauty; fun, but not joy; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; leisure, but not peace. You can have the husk of everything, but not the kernel.

Being grateful means being appreciative – for the what, why, where, and who’s we have in life. We’ve all heard that money cannot buy happiness, but that trend of thought does not stop there. To be inspired by others check out this Marc and Angel Hack Life blog post or check out this site which allows people to post their thoughts on what money can’t buy.

#5 – Gratitude
“Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.” — William Arthur Ward

Be grateful you have a weekend to enjoy!


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Bad news blares like an alarm and shakes my very existence. Within a short span of time I’ve received bad news from several people I care about. Too much all at once. Each person’s news is a reminder of the fragility of life and the ever teeter-tottering balancing act of happiness.

These bits of news are wake-up calls that cry out for life lessons to be revisited. In the blink of an eye, life can change. I’m acutely aware of that – savoring joy and living in the moment are underlying themes in many of my posts. Still, I let my guard down occasionally, complacency slides in and auto pilot takes over allowing life and happiness to be taken for granted. I’m sure there are countless others like me who need to be shaken awake from time to time by life’s wake-up calls.

Most of us let the details of our every day lives consume and control us to the point were life’s big picture is no longer in focus. We sweat the details and deny ourselves moments of joy. In my post On a Need to Know Basis I wrote about learning a life lesson when one of my cousins fell ill and passed away. I tell many of my friends, who fret and worry over their children’s grades, S.A.T. scores, and such, about how my cousin’s story has always helped me keep life in perspective. My cousin was close to finishing his freshman year in college when he became ill. Before he slipped into a coma and died he told his dad that he was sorry about his grades. My aunt and uncle are not unreasonable people. Like most of us they had hopes and dreams for their child and they pushed him to study hard. They never imagined that his last words to them would be about grades. We would all probably agree that in the big picture of life, grades aren’t really that important, but yet we can all probably relate to getting caught up in the details of grades. Put the details of whatever makes you angry, sad, frustrated, worried etc., into proper perspective  – or whole life perspective – and see if that doesn’t change your outlook on life a little.

Paint the big picture of your life in your mind and what do you see? What is important enough for you to include? What should you be grateful for? It takes practice and daily awareness to live a grateful life. Life is all about making choices. We have no control over certain aspects in our lives, but we can choose how we react and interact. As we go about our everyday tasks or write out our daily “To Do” lists, we must make sure we don’t forget to find some way of showing gratitude. Acknowledge people that support you in your workplace or in your community, find the positive in your job, be grateful for your health, tell your kids you are proud of them, and so on. We should make sure that the messages we are sending to those we care about come out loud and clear. The “unsaids” should be said more and the “saids” should be said less. The best intentions left undone are often ” I should of . . . ,” “I wish I had . . . ,” ” I was going to . . . .” Don’t miss the opportunities in life to show your thoughtfulness or gratitude or that you care. Don’t wait to be shaken awake again.

This post is dedicated to the memory of Steve Strann, a loving husband, a doting father, a fun neighbor, and a most wonderful friend who’s forever changed my outlook on pelicans, squirrels, orchids, and all things electronic.

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