A New Appreciation of Gratitude

Thanksgiving. Today is the final day of my 21-day Gratitude Challenge and the assignment is to reflect on what the process of giving thanks has meant to me.

This concentrated and shared focus on appreciation has meant expanding my awareness of the things I take for granted every day. It has meant opening my heart more broadly to others—and to myself. It has meant pushing past the fears generated by my gremlin to allow myself to show up as the broader version of me. It has meant seeing the things right in front of me from a new perspective, and seeing the world as a more vibrant, abundant, loving, and wondrous place.

I am ending this challenge with an expanded mind and heart, and an even deeper connection to Source (God, the Universe, Nature, Higher Coach—whatever works for you.)

We each may have our own beliefs about what is behind the abundance of air that we breathe in and out, or the continual beat of our hearts, or the perfect rotation of the planets, or the predictable rise of the sun. We may have a different way of explaining the exquisite site of a flock of birds moving as one to their seasonal home, or the ever-changing beauty of the landscape, or the growth of a giant oak from a tiny acorn.

But we can all share in the appreciation of those magnificent sights and experiences. We can share in the gratitude we feel because we are alive. We can give thanks because we are here with one another doing our best to love and grow and become the people we know we are meant to be.

Consistently focusing on gratitude expands our awareness and experiences of life, enhances our connections with others, and widens the boundaries of our hearts. These are gifts we can’t return, a new perspective we cannot lose, and a new vantage point from which to approach our lives.

Because I find focusing on appreciation so profound, today also marks my new commitment to practice giving thanks every day.

What does focusing on gratitude give to you? How much of a difference might it make in your life? How might you practice giving thanks on a regular basis?

Wishing you Happy Thanksgiving!

Together we can do it!



Thank Yourself

Today is day 20 of my 21-day Gratitude Challenge. The assignment is to write a thank you note to myself for taking the time to stop and focus on all the little things for which I feel grateful.

My Dearest Hanna,

Thank you so much for making the commitment to focus on all the things you appreciate—not just for the past 20 days, but every day. Thank you for opening your heart to the gifts that are in this moment.

I am so grateful that you allowed this exercise to deepen your gratitude and awareness. To truly get that each moment is new—even though it appears through your limited senses exactly the same as the moment before. The clouds have shifted in the sky, never to have the same formation again. Each face on the planet has made a subtle shift reflecting who they are, where they have come from, and the thoughts they are thinking. Water is flowing, leaves are falling, birds, bugs, animals, and people are moving about. Each second is brand new.

I am so grateful for all the abundance that you see in the world. There is so much love, so many opportunities, so much joy, so much beauty, and so much gratitude that can be seen when you stop to look for it. Shifting your perspective from all the problems to all the gifts is truly a blessing for everyone. Thank you for appreciating this abundant planet.

I am so grateful for the shift you experienced in seeing others, your relationships, and yourself when you looked at them with eyes filled with love and appreciation. Each person is so incredibly unique and offers so much value to the world—even if they don’t know or believe it themselves. And this includes you.

I am so grateful that you took the time to share this journey with others so they might reflect on their own reasons to be grateful. Thank you for recognizing that touching another’s heart is an honor.

I am grateful that you connect all of this with All-That-Is and see the Divine in everyone and everything. Knowing—and acknowledging—that Source is the source of it all is the greatest gift.

You are so loved, adored, and appreciated!

Your Self

It’s Your Decision

Do you have confidence in all the choices you’re making? When you make a decision, do you follow through with it? Do you honor the promises you make to yourself?

Each time you question your ability to make a good decision, you are really questioning your belief in yourself.

I used to unintentionally erode my self-confidence by being so afraid to make decisions that I often wouldn’t make any decision at all—which ironically was still making a decision and disempowering myself all at the same time. While I’ve always been careful of the promises I made to others because honoring them was so important to me, I wouldn’t think twice about making and breaking promises to myself.

This presented a continual message that I wasn’t trustworthy. This lack of faith in myself fed my fear of making the wrong decision, which just perpetuated the cycle.

To get off this crazy train, it’s helpful to recognize that each decision you make just leads to another decision. Unless you’re making a decision that will result in life or death, if you don’t like the way you’re going, you can always make a new decision and shift direction.

While our decisions may result in consequences we don’t like, often the fear of the consequences is much worse than actually going through them. Typically, going through those experiences gives us the information we need to figure out what we do want, which enables us to make that new choice.

When you can let go of feeling like every decision is monumental, you can then begin strengthening your beliefs in the choices that you are making. It’s important to let go of an “all or nothing” perspective and look for progress rather than perfection.

Did you make a healthier lunch choice? Win! Did you honor your commitment to get more exercise by parking at the far end of the lot at the grocery store? Win! Did you follow through on a decision that will have short-term pain, but long-term gain? Win!

Today’s assignment in my 21-day Gratitude Challenge is to have confidence in all the choices I am making today and be grateful for being able to believe in myself.

It’s still early, but so far I am on track. I am grateful to myself for following through on my decisions to meditate, workout, eat a healthy breakfast, and write my blog. Win! And I will be more conscious than I normally am of the rest of the decisions I am making today, which is important because I’m still not 100 percent perfect in my self-promises.

It’s still easy to talk myself into a treat when I really want to eat clean, or to read a novel in the evening instead of doing the extra work that I promised myself I would do. It doesn’t mean that I never make the decision to treat myself or relax, but then it’s honoring a decision that I’ve made rather than reneging on another decision.

Pay attention to how well you honor your self-promises. Look for ways that you can strengthen your belief that you can become the best possible you.

Together we can do it!

It’s OK to Love Yourself

It used to be that I was so busy feeling unlovable that I couldn’t have named anything about myself that was special—much less have appreciated those characteristics.

What a painful place I existed in most of the time. In my heart I knew that I was supposed to be happy, but I kept thinking the world had to change and everything had to align perfectly before I could find happiness.

I am so grateful that I discovered that I held the key to happiness all along. That key was choosing to be happy now regardless of the circumstances. To let go of the expectation that anyone or anything had to change to make me happy. To begin appreciating my life as it was—and to begin looking at those things about myself that I could appreciate.

The more clearly I could visualize me at my best—the me I wanted to become—the more I was actually able to show up as that person. And the more I could stop beating myself up when I wasn’t the best version of me, the quicker I was able to return to that happier place.

The assignment for day 18 of my Gratitude Challenge is to write about all the things that make me lovable, and to appreciate my personal style, talents, and charm.

Interestingly, while I can do this pretty easily in the privacy of my own journal, sharing this publically is bringing out that old gremlin that feels like there’s something wrong with self-love—meaning that you fabulous readers might judge me for having a “big head” or being egotistical.

I love that I know that old fear is false and that this exercise is helping me expand and evolve as a person. Even if someone does judge me, I know that self-love is necessary to unconditionally love others, and that this is the path to creating the life of my dreams.

One of the things that makes me lovable is that I am loving. I strive to look for things to appreciate about other people—and tell them what makes them shine. I am self-aware enough that I typically know when I’m not showing up as the best possible me, and if I can’t shift in the moment, I will come back to it later and figure out how to shift that energy.

Maintaining my connection to Source (God, the Universe, Higher Coach—whatever works for you) is my primary intention. I am a good listener and am truly interested in what others have to say. My intuition is active and gives me great insights into what people aren’t saying.

When I find something really amusing, I cackle and snort, which usually makes me laugh even harder. I have simple, but elegant taste for how I dress and present myself. I’m a good writer, and I love it most when my words inspire someone else.

Beauty is important to me, and creating beautiful spaces and appreciating beautiful places, people, and things gives me delight. My core values include freedom, integrity, and joy. I have an awesome ability to see the connections in disparate-seeming information and experiences.

It is always my intention to be a vibrant and beneficial uplifter to myself and others. I am capable, confident, energetic, powerful, and engaged. I am becoming more and more flexible and am learning to more easily go with the flow. One of my greatest gifts is my unshakable knowing that wellbeing is the dominate basis of All-That-Is.

While it may seem odd–or even wrong–to sing your own praises, if you think about the fact that Source loves and adores you exactly as you are, than all you are doing is agreeing with All-That-Is. You are praising what your Higher Coach praises. By unconditionally loving yourself, you are opening your heart to unconditionally loving others.

Try it today. Let go of the need to be perfect or self-critical, and look for those things that make you lovable. Acknowledge how good it feels, and then share that love with another.

Together we can do it!

Appreciate Life

Do you ever just give thanks for being alive?

On day 17 of my Gratitude Challenge the assignment is to write about something I feel grateful for in my life. As I contemplated all the wonderful things I could focus on, I realized that I would have none of it without the Divine spark called life that animates my physical body and creates my being.

So today, I give thanks for life. That Source Energy that beats my heart in perfect rhythm, ensures that I breathe in and out, and enables me to enjoy this moment and all that I have experienced—and will ever experience—regardless of how I judge it good or bad.

I give thanks for the thoughts, emotion, awareness, and focus that I have in this moment that results from my being alive. I give thanks for the physical sensations that I am experiencing—the sip of simultaneously sweet and bitter smelling and tasting coffee, the sound and feel of the computer keys as I type, the gray light on the mountains that I see outside my office window that shifts in a second as the sun breaks through the clouds.

For this deep feeling of appreciation I give thanks. For this moment in time I give thanks. For connecting with you and everyone in my life, I give thanks. For being alive and experiencing everything that entails, I give thanks.

What are you feeling grateful for in your life today? Take a moment to focus on that and truly appreciate it. Take note of how much better you feel.

Together we can do it!

Family Matters

Day three of the gratitude challenge and we are to write about something we feel grateful for in our life.

Today I am grateful for my immediate family. My family includes my wonderful husband, David, who is incredibly thoughtful and does so much for me. He is a gentle man, a trustworthy man, a funny man. I am confident in his love for me. Not only do I love him, but I like him. Marrying him almost 20 years ago was the best thing I ever did.

My fur children Buffy and Willow

Our animal children, who allow me to shower them with all my maternal love and attention. Our two dogs and two cats are the most beautiful animals on the planet. Their distinct personalities never cease to make me laugh and bring me to a place of genuine appreciation. They are loving, smart, and are amazingly communicative. They bring me incredible joy.

My Mom, who is a beautiful and powerful spirit, has taught me so much. She’s incredibly talented and creates beautiful things as an artist. She is also an artist in the kitchen, making delicious and wonderful foods that set the bar in taste for me. She taught me about nutrition and gave me my appreciation of beauty in form and function. She gave to me an appreciation of nature and animals. She gave to me strength of will and character.

My step-Father, who is one of the most brilliantly creative people I know. He finds joy in even the smallest of things. And he loves my mother and is a wonderful life partner for her.

My half-brother, Richard, who is so different from me in appearance and beliefs, yet we find enjoyment in each other’s company. He is extremely funny and bright. He’s an awesome dad and husband. His wife, Susan, is the best thing that ever happened to him. With her he is gentle. With her he is at peace. And their incredibly beautiful daughter Abby is a gift to this planet. I love watching her grow and turn into the person she is to become.

My half-brother Ashley, who I met for the first time in 28 years just two weeks ago. He is the brother who looks like me and who has the same positive outlook and strong sense of faith. He has an incredible family and has been an amazing dad and provider. I am so grateful for the opportunity to get to know him.

My father, who gave me my love for writing, and my determination to create loving relationships and to take care of myself–body, mind, and spirit. So much of the good that I have allowed into my life springs out of what I learned that I wanted when I was a kid. For that, I am very grateful.

Family matters to me. And I love them–and all the brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews on David’s side of the family.

My family has not been perfect. In fact, when I was a child, it has downright hard. But as I have grown and evolved into the person that I am, it has been so wonderful to not only love them because they are family, but to pay attention to the reasons why I also am grateful for them.

What can you appreciate about your family today?

Together we can do it!