Thank You, Friends

Several of my friends – and likely yours, too – have taken their gratitude to Facebook over the course of November, each day listing another blessing in their lives for which they are thankful.

I haven’t done this, primarily because it never occurs to me to start in on November 1st and then I’m behind.  It’s a fun and uplifting exercise.  And yet, I noticed a post where someone was thankful that Facebook had the feature to hide posts from others who were doing this so that he wouldn’t have to endure seeing them.

What?!

How jaded have we become if somebody’s public note of thanks is an event that rubs us the wrong way?  Personally, each note of gratitude I see reminds me of a similar blessing I have and I find myself noting that I’m thankful for that as well.

And so I want to thank my friends who are sharing their gratitude this month.  I’m delighted to see my social networking feeds filled with appreciation, blessing, and joy.

Happy Thanksgiving!

For you…

Life’s Lessons Learned

Some things just take time. Unfortunately, we don’t always learn a lesson the first time life presents one to us. But now that I have finally learned a few things that experience has tried to teach me over and over and over again… I’m filled with gratitude for those lessons I’ve learned.

When considering all those things that life has taught, for me the biggest has been patience. As a new manager – and likely when I was a new mother, too – I didn’t have the patience I should have had. So many times I sent email too quickly, voiced my opinion too strongly, and stubbornly thought that others should move as fast and in the same direction as me. I didn’t have time to wait for people to think about what was happening – they should just come along with me and move at my pace!

Augh.

I can’t really say exactly when I found my patience. It was a long process, I’m sure. At some point, though, a mirror was held up to me and I was able to see my impatience clearly. Then, as we often do when we are hit with the hard reality of who-we-are versus who-we-hope-to-be, I began to see over and over and over again how impatient I really was being. And that it had to change.

There are episodes now where my natural tendency to be impatient bubbles up; however, I like to think that I’m more patient than not. And in those instances when I find myself acting as I should instead of how I would have in the past, I’m once again filled with gratitude and thanks that I’ve been given the chance to improve on who I am.

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Coaching Challenge: Be Grateful

This week we’ve had the opportunity to express gratitude for the steady hands of surgeons, for the speed of life flights, and for injuries minor enough to be taken care of with supplies in the first aid isle at Target.  It’s been wild week for our family and friends and I find myself grateful for text messages, real-time updates on Facebook, and the chance to support those I love with prayer.

Even in difficult circumstances, we can find ways to express our gratitude. It’s all about how we look at it, isn’t it?  Going forward our challenge is to find ways to be more grateful.

Here we go….

  • Did you try the “Three Blessings” exercise yet?  Try it for a week.  Notice how it changes your perspective.
  • Next time you find yourself beginning to complain about something – or someone – stop yourself and state a reason you are grateful in the situation – or why you are grateful for that person.
  • Next time you find yourself worrying, do the same.
  • Begin the habit of thinking about what you are grateful for while brushing your teeth, driving to work, or enjoying your morning coffee break.  Fill your mind with gratitude.
  • When you hear someone else complain, respond with a grateful statement.  There is always a silver lining.  Find it.  State it.

With any week focused on being grateful, it has to end with me telling you how grateful I am that you read these posts.  Thank you for giving your precious resource of time to this blog.  You are appreciated and I’m so happy you are here.

Count Your Blessings

A week focused on being grateful must include the “Three Blessings” exercise.  I’ve mentioned it before and here I go again because doing this will change your perspective. Gratitude and thanks have been frequent topics on this site and regular readers know how strongly exercising gratitude contributes to our overall well-being.

In Martin Seligman’s most recent book Flourish, he builds on the Positive Psychology movement with concrete, research-based activities each of us can do to not simply be happy, but to flourish.

Because we spend so much time focusing on the negative (we do, you aren’t alone on this one), taking time to focus on positive events in our lives helps to add balance.  Ready to improve your well-being?  Here’s what Seligman suggests:

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep.  Write down three things that went well today and why they went well.  You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote.  The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?”  For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up some ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause “God was looking out for her” or “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week.  It will get easier.  The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.

This activity is appropriately called the “Three Blessings” exercise.  How wonderful to set aside time each day to count our blessings!  We have so many…

You can find all books mentioned in this blog online at the Coach Carolyn Store.

Still A Grateful Kid

We all have so many reasons to be grateful.  In particular, I’m grateful for the amazing people around me. Like many of you, I have incredible friends, family and colleagues who I’m surrounded by each day. From all those people, today I’m going to focus on my parents.

The closer we grow to our friends, the more we often learn about their upbringing and their relationships with their parents. And the more I learn, I realize how blessed I am. I grew up in a pretty strict home with high expectations. It was also filled with love and support.

When other kids were told that they wouldn’t amount to much, I was told that I could be anything I wanted to be. My dad thought that anything I wanted to be would come to me more quickly if I sought a business degree… but that’s another story. They supported me as I tossed around ideas of being a flight attendant, a hair stylist, and a veterinarian. And they continued to support me as I made my decision to follow my future husband to the university he attended in pursuit of that business degree that my dad was pretty much right about. And when I decided to quit after three years, supportive again (though they may have thought I was nuts!).

Now it’s years later and my parents show up for every possible function that our kids are a part of. They nailed and sawed and varnished our lake cabin as we renovated.  While he was in Afghanistan, my mom sent care packages to my brother almost every week, frequently with her homemade biscotti. As adults, we continue to know that we are loved, supported and cherished.

On top of all this, they are fun to be around, too. They are people I would choose as friends if I hadn’t been blessed to have them as my parents.

So how could I not be filled with gratitude? Love you Mom and Dad…

Grateful Remembrance

Today is a powerful anniversary for our country.  As I, like many of you, look back at that terrible day; what I remember most is being grateful.  Terrified.  Horrified.  Sick.  And grateful.

If your workplace was like mine, everything stopped and we all gathered around a TV in a common area of our building.  My husband and I worked at the same place, so we soon found each other and watched the day unfold together, surrounded by several coworkers who were – and still are – close friends.

The conversation echoed with many “We were just there,” statements, said with disbelief and shock.  This is why I was grateful.  It was awful to see and impossible to understand, but we were together.  My husband and friends who had been in NYC just a few days before were safely in Fargo.  We were spared frantic calls trying to place whereabouts.  Or worse.  Spared the worry that could have been added to the day.

Knowing that it could have easily gone the other way created sincere, deep empathy for our kindred Americans going through the experience.  So many of us have been to NYC and so many of us love it there that it felt close to home, even when it wasn’t.

Eleven years later I am still grateful.  I’m grateful to the men and women who have risked their lives both in the Middle East and here on our American soil in attempts to make our lives safer.  I’m grateful that the people of New York and the country chose to make a beautiful monument to honor those whose lives were sadly taken that day.  And I am, of course, profoundly grateful to have my husband with me in Fargo where he belongs.

You can be sure that the American spirit will prevail over this tragedy. ~Colin Powell

And it has.  For that, we can all be grateful.

Enjoy Today

With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future.  I live now.  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Live for today.  Something we hear all the time, isn’t it?  That said, we also are told to dream, set big goals, and look to the future as we make glorious plans.  How to do both?

I mentioned last week that in order to support my long-term goals, I might have to give up some comfort and convenience in the short term.  Since writing that I’ve been wondering, “Do I?”

Maybe.  But maybe not.  I do think there is opportunity for all of us to get too focused on what we want versus what we have.  And what we have is usually pretty darn good.  As the saying goes… the things you take for granted someone else is praying for.

So it all comes back to balance, I suppose.  Make choices for the future and also be happy with today.  As long as more choices are made to move ahead than to stay with the status quo, progress is being made.  Every comfortable and convenient thing in the present need not be abandoned.

After all, these are the things prayed for in the past.  We must enjoy today.

First Things First, Sharpen The Saw, and The Abundance Mindset

Today’s topic was all cued up and ready to go… and then I heard about the passing of Stephen Covey and felt it would be more appropriate to reflect on what his work meant to me.

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People was the first business book that had an impact on my career.  It was the first business seminar I experienced; the first opportunity I had to focus on personal development outside of academia.

What an amazing foundation on which to build a career.  Because of this early learning, putting “first things first” and understanding the importance of “sharpening the saw” are fundamental to how I organize and prioritize my activities and life.  I try my very best to focus on what is important versus what is urgent.  And time for rejuvenation is always a part of my planning.

Above and beyond the specific seven habits, Covey also introduced the idea of the abundance mentality.  On The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Wikipedia page, the abundance mentality is described as this:

Covey coined the idea of abundance mentality or abundance mindset, a concept in which a person believes there are enough resources and success to share with others. He contrasts it with the scarcity mindset (i.e., destructive and unnecessary competition), which is founded on the idea that, if someone else wins or is successful in a situation, that means you lose; not considering the possibility of all parties winning (in some way or another) in a given situation. Individuals with an abundance mentality are able to celebrate the success of others rather than feel threatened by it.

Expect that everyone can win.  Sharing information and helping others doesn’t mean that we have less; it often means that we have more.  Celebrate success even when it isn’t your own.

What a legacy to leave.  Thank you.

Receiving Tough Feedback

All conversations are two-way, or at least they should be.  So when considering difficult discussions where one person is delivering honest feedback to another, there is, of course, a receiver of the information.  As I honestly shared in Listen To Their Feedback, I’m not always a fan of being on the receiving end.

However, as one considers the thought and consideration that goes into being a deliverer of critical feedback, it’s important to remember this as the recipient.  Very few individuals enjoy having a conversation like this on either side.  To lash out at the messenger is probably not fair.

So when receiving feedback that is less than appealing, it’s best to keep quiet, listen and – here’s the hard part – thank the person for delivering the information to you.  It is a gift.  It aught to be treated that way.

No defensiveness.  No excuses.  Listen.  Thank them.

Then you can go stew on the information for a while.  Call someone to vent.  Yell.  Cry.  Whatever it is that the feedback makes you feel like doing.

And if the feedback is relevant and true, choose to change.

Just Getting Through Today

Maybe this week isn’t a good week for you to figure out what it is that you want so that you can fix your eyes on the horizon.  Perhaps the end of your workday is the only destination you can see right now.  Looking to the future means getting to 5:00PM on Friday without quitting or giving someone a piece of your mind.  The future, it seems, is tomorrow and beyond that… well, it will just have to take care of itself.

Sound familiar?  Well, I hope not… but for some, it’s reality.  And if you aren’t there now, you likely can remember a time when a job, a relationship or a situation left you feeling like there was little hope of anything ever changing.

What to do?

When those doldrums take hold, we need to take charge.  Here are a few ways to create an attitude change when circumstances have you down.

  • Take care of yourself.  When the focus is on the immediate negative circumstance, it seems that this is also the time when we give up exercising, choose to have a glass of wine to unwind, or avoid friends who might provide a blessed pick-me-up.  Remember to breathe.  Eat right.  Get a good night’s sleep.  These things all help with perspective and provide more willpower to take on the next day.
  • Remember who’s in charge.  That’s right; it’s you.  When we can take an honest look at where we are and what we can do about it, that’s when circumstances begin to change.  Even if it’s only a little bit at a time.
  • Release.  Stress has a way of building when bottled up inside.  Find an understanding confidant.  If it’s too personal, find time to exercise or write or whatever it is that allows for stress to be channeled outside of you.  If needed, hire a professional to help you through this time.
  • Recognize and acknowledge the good stuff.  Every day things happen that we can be grateful for.  Challenge yourself to complete the Three Blessings exercise each night.  Thank God, the heavens, your luck or the universe when something happy happens.  Don’t let the little things slip by you.
  • Remember, this too shall pass.  Really, Grandma was right.  As the familiar bible passage and The Byrds remind us, to everything there is a season and seasons always change.

Finally, sometimes simply getting through today – or even this moment – really is enough.  Accepting that alone can bring welcome relief.

Happy 3rd Birthday, Mom!

Today marks the third anniversary since my mom suffered a brain aneurism.  Her recovery has been remarkable and how else would I mark today except to share with you the incredible story of her extreme resilience.

Extreme Resilience (originally posted June 2, 2011)

Sometimes life really knocks us flat, does it not? A few years ago life pulled one of these numbers on my mom and, by proximity, our family as well.

We were living in Germany at the time and I was speaking to her on the phone as she returned home from the hospital. Suddenly she said she had a terrible headache and had to go. The next call was from my dad, explaining that the doctors in the ER weren’t sure what exactly had happened but “aneurism” and “burst blood vessel” were being thrown about. Next step was a life-flight to Fargo. And I was on my way back to the states.

Mom was then placed on another flight to St. Paul where we began waiting to see what the impact of the now-diagnosed brain aneurism would be. She lived and that was half the battle. Now there would be surgery and recovery unlike what any of us could imagine.

Her friends and family played an important part in her recovery and a part in the resilience she needed to move back to her new normal. In addition to the remarkable support given by my father, I think there were two key pieces that acted as a reminder to her to move forward. The first one was a little frivolous and silly, but my husband started to call Mom “princess” when she didn’t want to do something for herself or when she was a little whiney about having to walk down the halls. This helped get her to do one little thing after another – and with a smile on her face to boot!

More powerfully, at one point my brother told Mom to “take her life back.” She still repeats those words as she continues on her road to recovery, reminding herself that she hasn’t yet completed the journey and there is more to take back every day.

What a powerful and beautiful example of resilience she is to all of us! She’s back to work and exercising. She hosts family get-togethers. She does so many things that were overwhelming two years ago that we forget sometimes how far she’s come. Her last appointment in St. Paul revealed that her physical healing is complete.

Thank you, Mom, for being an incredible example of how to bounce back. I’m forever grateful that you did!


Three Blessings

It’s Thanksgiving week here in the U.S. and as is our tradition, thoughts turn to all that we have to be thankful for in our lives.  Gratitude and thanks have been frequent topics here and regular readers know how strongly exercising gratitude contributes to our overall well-being.

Before I sign off for the week to enjoy time with my family, I want to leave you with another reminder of the power of gratitude.  I’m reading Martin Seligman’s most recent book Flourish, and in it he builds on the Positive Psychology movement with concrete, research-based activities each of us can do to not simply be happy, but to flourish.

Because we spend so much time focusing on the negative (we do, you aren’t alone on this one), taking time to focus on positive events in our lives helps to add balance.  Ready to improve your well-being?  Here’s what Seligman suggests:

Every night for the next week, set aside ten minutes before you go to sleep.  Write down three things that went well today and why they went well.  You may use a journal or your computer to write about the events, but it is important that you have a physical record of what you wrote.  The three things need not be earthshaking in importance (“My husband picked up my favorite ice cream for dessert on the way home from work today”), but they can be important (“My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy”).

Next to each positive event, answer the question “Why did this happen?”  For example, if you wrote that your husband picked up some ice cream, write “because my husband is really thoughtful sometimes” or “because I remembered to call him from work and remind him to stop by the grocery store.” Or if you wrote, “My sister just gave birth to a healthy baby boy,” you might pick as the cause “God was looking out for her” or “She did everything right during her pregnancy.”

Writing about why the positive events in your life happened may seem awkward at first, but please stick with it for one week.  It will get easier.  The odds are that you will be less depressed, happier, and addicted to this exercise six months from now.

This activity is appropriately called the “Three Blessings” exercise.  How wonderful to have time set aside each year and, if we commit, each day to count our blessings!  We have so many…

Happy Thanksgiving to you!  I’ll see you back here next week.

You can find all books mentioned in this blog online at the Coach Carolyn Store.

Committed to Love

I can’t get very far into the topic of commitment without bringing up my marriage.  My husband and I will soon be celebrating 24 years together.  Actually, 27 years if the dating years are added in.  That’s a commitment, wouldn’t you say?  The cool thing is that we still like each other.  More than that, we love each other.  We’re committed.

The following post was written about our commitment back in February in honor of Valentine’s Day.  I’m reposting because I feel the same and I’m not sure I could say it any better if I tried a second time.  Love you, Todd!

Love is a Commitment

My husband and I are high school sweethearts and, with him a year older than I am, we “suffered” through the long-distance-relationship that was his freshman year. This was a time, my young readers, when a long-distance call was expensive and mail was actual mail. This required a commitment!

I diligently wrote to him every day and he wrote to me too… with less frequency (see above mentioned freshman year). I understood; however, I remember a time when I must have been pretty frustrated with the lack of correspondence from Grand Forks. On this day I sent a postcard that read, “Love is a commitment not a feeling. Where’s my mail?” And then I quit writing until I received the hoped for letter. The silent treatment has always worked for me with him!

Of course, I said it to make a point and more importantly to get him to sit down and think about us for a moment when his life was so full of things far away from me. At our young age, I think we were particularly blessed to know that love is indeed a commitment and that we needed to work beyond the feeling (wonderful as it is) to make a life together. I guess we sort of understood, as Gary Chapman shares in his book The 5 Languages of Love, that the average in-love experience lasts two years. After that, it needs to be something more.

But commitment seems a little like work, doesn’t it? Sort of boring, maybe? Certainly not romantic! At first blush, perhaps. Then I started thinking…

This commitment makes me feel content.

This commitment makes me feel happy.

It makes me feel joyful, secure, adored, and delighted.

Above all, this commitment that I share with my husband makes me feel loved. And a commitment like that is more romantic than any feeling I’ve had the pleasure of knowing.

You can find all books mentioned in this blog online at the Coach Carolyn Store.

Coaching Challenge: Celebrate

Each day gives us something we can celebrate.  We just need to be ready to see it; ready to shout out a rousing “woo hoo!”  Everyone has something to celebrate.  Today, I challenge you to celebrate.

Here we go…

  • Find something to celebrate today.  It could be your accomplishment or someone else’s.  The celebration can be big or small.  Just celebrate.
  • Plan a celebration.  A birthday.  A retirement.  A reunion.  Find an excuse to celebrate with family and friends.
  • Celebrate an important relationship.  Your time with your loved ones might not be as long as you hope.  Let someone you love know how much he or she means to you while you can.  As often as you can.
  • Acknowledge a milestone you met this week.  They happen all the time.  Did you meet a deadline?  Finish a project?  Pass an anniversary date?  You don’t have to go tell everyone you did it – simply acknowledging your work and time passed is good.  An internal celebration just for you.
  • Find a “win” to celebrate.  Yours or someone else’s.  Perhaps your child got an “A” on a tough assignment.  Or your spouse made a big sale at work.  Or you were able to get a client to re-up on a contract.  Make a favorite dinner or uncork some wine (for the adults, not the kids!).

However you choose to do it, choose to celebrate!

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Related Posts

Celebrate Milestones

Our weekend of celebrations started out with a very important milestone: our youngest son turned 13.  Officially a teen and no longer our baby boy, we’re watching him turn into the man he will become.

Because of his cousin’s wedding, Davis’s birthday was spent at the rehearsal and the groom’s dinner.  Even so, time was taken to mark his milestone birthday as others and we paused to give him gifts or wish him a happy birthday.  The bride led us all in a rousing chorus of “Happy Birthday” following our meal as well.

It could be argued that the day we reach a milestone is like any another day.  Most milestones are not life-changing events, really.  Our son is the same today as he was a week ago.  But then, things aren’t quite the same either.  Reaching a milestone by definition puts something else in the past.  For Davis, it was his childhood.  At retirement, it is a career.  At graduation, it’s cramming for exams and all-nighters.

It’s this piece that makes it important for milestones to be celebrated.  It’s a way to recognize the work completed and the time past.  Whether celebrating with a big party or simply enjoying your own quiet acknowledgement, taking the opportunity to enjoy and relish the moment is something that should not be missed.

Celebrate!

Celebrate Life

In the midst of what was planned to be a joyful weekend, we took time to say good-bye to a friend lost suddenly to a tragic accident.  When his young widow sent out invites to his funeral as a “Celebration of Life” I honestly didn’t know how it could be done.  It’s so heartbreaking to witness someone taken too early.

Eric’s Celebration of Life was held a few hours before the wedding and still my husband and I wanted to be there.  Wanted to say good-bye.

We arrived to a packed church filled with grieving family and friends.  A beautiful photo tribute to our friend played as people found their seats.  The service began and soon there was time for an informal eulogy; a time for anyone to come to the altar and share a story.  His best friend Keith began…

I’m in awe of people who can work through their grief and share their hearts during a time like this.  Within moments we were laughing, remembering the joy Eric would bring to a room.  Many were smiling as we heard stories about his childhood, his sense of humor and his entrepreneurial spirit.

During that time of remembrance, I felt a shift from grieving to celebrating.  Not celebrating in the way we would celebrate later that day, but celebrating nonetheless.  Celebrating that we’d been able to enjoy the time our friend had on this Earth and the impact he made while he was here.

And for those who believe, celebrating that we’d see him again on the other side.

Let no one weep for me, or celebrate my funeral with mourning; for I still live, as I pass to and fro through the mouths of men. ~Quintus Ennius

Eric (on the right) with my family and Keith while visiting us in Germany.

Coaching Challenge: Generosity

Mixing it up again this week!  Instead of the usual bombardment of questioning, I’m going to set out a few challenges for you instead.

Here we go…

  • Each day in the next week, do something generous for someone.  Remember, by definition there will be no strings attached; no expectation of return.
  • The next time someone makes a generous offer to you, graciously accept it.  Fight the instinct to offer something in return.  Thank the person for their generosity.
  • Find a place to generously give your time each week.  It could be volunteering at a local charity, mentoring a college student, or teaching skills to a new coworker.  Simply give your time.
  • Twice a week over the next month, nurture your network.  Take someone to coffee.  Return a favor.  Connect two people who would benefit from knowing each other.  Send an email when someone comes to mind for only that reason.  Look for ways to make generous offers of your time, your knowledge, or your connections.

Remember, being generous doesn’t necessarily mean a big time commitment.  Sending an introductory email takes only minutes yet it could make a huge impact on someone else’s life or career.  No big thing for you, but a big deal for the recipient.

Most importantly, enjoy the process!  There’s a reason generous people are described as “big hearted.”  Being generous makes your heart grow.

Let me know how it goes!

Accepting Generosity

For you...

How well do you accept generosity when it’s offered to you?

In his book Never Eat Alone, Keith Ferrazzi outlines rejections of offers he’s given: “Sorry, but I can’t accept the favor because I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to repay you,” and “I’d rather not be obligated to anyone, so I’ll have to pass.”  Really?  From this vantage point, the idea of people rejecting an offer from a networking guru seems like a bad career move.  Obviously, it can be difficult for some people to accept the generosity of others.

In networking, when helping others, when being offered assistance, we all need to quit keeping score.

I remember a time when I was young and felt I was doing a lot of giving in my relationships and not getting much in return.  Being young and rash, my reaction was to pull back and quit giving so much. (Or what I perceived to be as “so much!”)  What resulted was that relationships began to fizzle and so I returned to giving… whether the offer was accepted or the favor returned.  I learned that being generous in my relationships felt better to me than being stingy.

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, being generous has the power to make us happy.  I’d add that this power diminishes when we begin to keep score.  After all, generosity is “giving freely without expecting anything in return.”  Keeping score makes it something other than generosity, by definition.

Confidently accepting the generosity of others and anticipating that they expect nothing in return frees us to return to them the gift they are most likely looking to receive: appreciation.

Accept generosity.  With gratitude.

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Habitually Generous

As the weekend came to an end, I couldn’t help but reflect on how blessed I was by the generosity of others.  People who were generous with their time, gifts, belongings, talents, and food made for a remarkable weekend.  Naturally, this lead to some introspection about how generous I am toward others.

Wikipedia describes generosity as “the habit of giving freely without expecting anything in return.”

“…the habit:” an acquired pattern of behavior that often occurs automatically (also Wikipedia).  Am I automatically generous?

“…giving freely without expecting anything in return.”  Do I do so with no strings attached?

There’s no question that I want to be truly generous.  I understand the beauty in generosity every time I’m the humble recipient of someone else’s kindness.  And this symbiotic giving and receiving results in increased happiness for both the giver and receiver.  Perhaps this is why all of the mostly widely held belief systems in the word remind us to be generous.

Generosity as a habit; I’m going to work on that.

Blessed by the generosity of others ~ enjoying a flight over MN lakes courtesy of my generous neighbor.


Remembering Grandma Lauretta

I had a lighthearted theme ready for this week.  One that wouldn’t have required much thought on your part and perhaps provided a laugh or two.  I could still do that, but my thoughts are on relationships now and so that’s where time will be spent instead.

Over the weekend our dear friends experienced the loss of their father after a yearlong battle with cancer.  This came just two days after a former classmate from my hometown lost her fight as well.  We’ve all experienced loss and so you know how it serves to remind us how very precious life is.  It also reminds us of how important our relationships are.  Encouraging us to treasure and care for them as the lovely jewels that they are.

My grandma passed away almost twenty years ago.  It’s easy for us to remember because she died a few short weeks after my oldest son was born.  At the time, he was a comfort to everyone as we spent untold hours in the waiting room, taking turns to go in to see her two-at-a-time.

I remember telling her how crazed I felt as a new mom and wondered aloud how she had raised five kids so close in age.  She laughed and said, “Well, they certainly didn’t all get baths every day!”  In that I found permission to focus on the important things and let baths (and my schedule) go by the wayside from time to time.

Knowing that she was dying, she must have felt like she should tell me what was important – what to focus on.  In this spirit she told me to not “play favorites” with our families.  She reminded me to balance between both my family and my husband’s family because they were equally important to our child.  Sage advice I have heeded for the last twenty years.  Advice I will likely pass on to my children and grandchildren one day.

After twenty years I still miss her.  When I make an iced tea I’m in her kitchen.  When I pick peas, she’s there.  When I stand with my hands on my hips the same way she did, I wonder why it’s this trait that was handed down to me.  And when I’m patient, forgiving and graceful, I’m thankful that I had such an amazing role model to learn from.

Of course, I’m so sorry she’s not here today so that I can tell her these things.  Now each memory acts as a prompt to tell the people around me how they’ve influenced me.  How they’ve impacted me.  How they’ve shaped me.  How much I love them.

And in that way, my grandma lives on.

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