Sharing Gratitude

Being grateful is an amazing thing to share with others, it can be infectious and rewarding. Today it made me smile a couple of times. I went to lunch with three of my favorite inherited siblings, Mitch, Beverly, and Judy. Please if you read this keep them and their mother in your prayers. She will be coming home from the hospital, but will be under the care of hospice. Ok on with my story. I had planned on coming home to “rest” some more, I have kept a cold at bay for several days now, but drove through the parking lot and decided to go into Hobby Lobby. I needed to find an ornament for an ornament exchange next month and of course I always have to check the beading/jewelry making section out too! While I was in the ornament section I noticed this woman picking ornaments and hanging them on one of the artificial trees. She tried to engage a couple of people passing by in conversation about the ornaments, at that moment I really didn’t think anything of it. As I pick my ornament and am leaving the aisle, she says to me “I have a hanging light I am trying to decorate. What do you think about these ornaments?” The lightbulb went off and visions of my mother whose children all live far away came rushing into my head. I smiled at the woman and started helping her arrange the ornaments on the tree as if they were hanging on the light. I think we spent the next 15 minutes finding just the right ornaments for her to take home. Honestly, I don’t think it was about the ornaments at all. I think she wanted some conversation and company. She was happy and left to make her purchases. When you can stop and see what is going on around you and take your time to make someone else’s day a little brighter you are sharing the gratitude. At that moment my heart was filled with gratitude and love. I was grateful I was in that place at that time to give of myself. There are no coincidences.

I have a lot of gratitude these days. I consciously try to smile and say hello to anyone I cross paths with, no matter where I am. It lifts my mood, keeps my attitude in check and never fails to give something back to me. I may not know exactly what then, but the message always shines through and has perfect timing.

My second encounter of gratitude sharing occurred at the beach. I remember saying to Beverly “it is so nice out, I am going to have a hard time not going to the beach today.”  Well, I couldn’t resist and did go to the beach. I walked about three miles total. On my walk down the beach, on a secluded part of the beach, I saw a couple who had buried their legs in the sand. They were having a ball laughing and playing. I was about at the end of where I usually walk and passed them, only to walk about 50 more feet and turn around. Something told me I needed to take their picture for them. I turned around and took my headphones out and asked them if they had a camera and wanted a picture. It is then I found out they were newlyweds and “yes, absolutely we want a picture.” I then went up to where their things were and brought the bag with the camera down to them. I took 6 pictures, making them kiss for one of them. They were very grateful that I had walked by.

It is amazing to me that when you live in the moment and pay attention to the things around you the joy you can share and spread. Living with intention, compassion and gratitude gives life a whole new flavor. I like to call it the flavor of LOVE! I challenge everyone who reads this to share your gratitude and LOVE with all of those you meet. Life is too short for anything else. You are only given this very moment!

Advertisements

The Lessons of 9-11-2001

Tribute in Light, 9/11/03

Image by Brendan Loy via Flickr

As I reflect on the past ten years and what I personally took away from that sad, fateful, awful day, is that people are intrinsically good. When tragedy happens and happen it did, people tend to step up and pull together for the greater good out of kindness, survival and love.

The morning of September 11, 2001 was much like any other morning for me. I drove all three kids to Stuart Middle School, the only year all of them were there together. At the time I was a Volunteer Coordinator and spent a lot of time at the that.”>school that morning was no different. School started around 9am back then, so we were probably there by 8:30am and I was in the front office when the first plane crashed into WTC1 North there was shock all around. I am not sure if it was after WTC2 South Tower was hit that the school district went on alert and had to decide if the kids would stay in school or not. It all happened pretty fast and everyone was scrambling.

Then the Pentagon was hit and Flight 93 went down. It was definitely a scary day in America.

As a parent of three kids in the same school, where I happened to be when it happened, watching how the school handled it, I made the decision to leave my kids at school. The district excused kids whose parents wanted to pick them up, but I thought the more normal of a day my kids could have would serve them better than coming home and watching it all on TV right away. I also had the perk of going to each of my children’s classrooms to make sure they were OK with staying.

The evening of September 11, 2001 was eerie – there was absolutely no air traffic in the sky until Sept 13, 2001. Being in the aircraft industry, and always near an airport, noticing planes flying overhead all of the time, the feeling was unsettling at best.

I remember thinking, this changes everything we have ever known about being free and protected at the same time. What an understatement that thought turned out to be.

The next few weeks, and months I couldn’t peel myself away from watching and listening and trying to figure out how this could happen here in the USA. We have the best defense systems, how could they have failed us that day. I am not one to speculate and come up with theories from media reports, or even what I am being spoon fed. I personally like to do my own research, take all sides of an issue into account and form my own opinion of what I believe.

With the events of 9-11 I read just about everything I could, I watched hours of footage and listened to even more hours of interviews, and sounds from that day. I am not really sure what I believe at this point, but I will say, something isn’t right with the story that has been portrayed. Logically things just don’t add up. I am not a 9-11 truther, I am just someone who thinks the whole story has not been told and will probably never be told. I haven’t dwelled on this and I won’t ever dwell on it. It isn’t in my control and it won’t change anything. I just revisit it around this time of year since that day. The tears flowed, feelings of anger and sorrow also crept in, but in the end love took over my feelings. I decided that a loving state of mind was where I could do the most good.

In April of 2003 the day after our troops went in and toppled Saddam Hussein’s statue, my two boys were on flights going opposite directions. My 8th grader was going to England to play soccer for 10 or so days, and my Sophomore in high school was heading to Washington State for a choral competition for the same time.”>timewith a planned trip to Canada. One left at 6am, the other at 6pm. The week preceding the trips I remember thinking, “am I crazy for sending both of my kids out of the country at this time,” then we went into Bagdad April 9, 2003 and my kids were leaving the next day. I decided then that if I didn’t let them go (they were with many adults that I personally knew and some were close friends), I would regret not letting them have an experience of a lifetime if nothing happened. My next decision was, if something did happen, could I live with myself? Well as you can probably all ready figure out, I am about living each moment to the fullest. They went, they both had a great time and learned a lot through their experiences

My first flight after 9-11 was also in 2003. It was with dear friends to the Bahamas. I went because my girlfriend was still deathly afraid to fly. I wasn’t afraid, but I can tell you it was a weird feeling being in a plane again after 9-11. I was definitely more aware of my surroundings and paid more attention to people I probably would have never given a second glance. I guess it made me a little suspicious, but I think people who are survivors and survive events have to have more of an awareness about them. I never gave it a second thought before. Flying back then, to the Bahamas, you still didn’t need a passport, you only needed an ID and birth certificate. Boy how times have changed now.

From then until now, I have flown several times. I am not really bothered by the security. I don’t like the idea of being radiated when I go through a scanner, but if I am going to fly it is a price I have to pay for that choice. Flying by the way, is a choice. If you don’t like what you have to go through to fly, then don’t fly.

I think the biggest lesson that still resonates with me is, I won’t stop living my life to the best of my ability as a kind, loving, compassionate person, and I won’t stop trying to do the best I can, to be better each moment I am here. No matter what obstacles are placed in front of me, I will always look for a way to make my space better than I found it, make the people I come in contact with feel loved and appreciated, and not dwell on things I have no control over.

We never know how long our time here will be, and as 9-11 taught us, it can be gone in an instant. Tell the people you love, I love you every time you see them, hold them close, and try to always be kind. When parting ways, if just for the day, or in some cases longer,  understand that it could be the last time you see them. Live for now, love forever, and be everything you wish to be. There is no room for past regrets and lost moments when you live your life in the present.

Carpe Diem

Love and peace

Natalie

A Rawthentic Look At The Past Three Months

I am not exactly sure when I started being totally raw, but I know around the first of June the process started. I think it took about two weeks to wean off of the dairy and another three weeks after that to completely quit coffee…. I would have to go back and look at my posts, and I really don’t care. The point is, I haven’t had meat, dairy or coffee for a while now and I feel fantastic!

Every day I am more inspired and amazed by the people I come in contact with who are on the same journey or are adding more fresh foods to their diets or they are diving right in. I have to admit, this change wasn’t that hard for me, because I was pretty much a vegetarian to begin with. The first two weeks of weaning off of things were the biggest challenge I suppose, but as I got to each “next day” a natural flow of eating mostly raw things happened.  I did have a McDonald’s hamburger the third week coming home from the shop. I was hungry and hadn’t brought enough food. It made me sick for three hours after I got home. I even had a fever.  I don’t really have any cravings for “that food” any more. It is inconsequential.

The biggest surprise for me is my body’s transformation. I seriously had not gone to the beach in a few years, because I didn’t even want to put on a one piece swimsuit. I wouldn’t wear shorts, skirts, or dresses it is pretty pathetic actually. Those who know me, know I wasn’t “fat”, but they also know that over the past eight years I had put on a few pounds. Yes, I still wore a size 6 and carried the weight, but it was there. Before raw I was 163 lbs. I weighed less than that nine months pregnant with both of my boys! Today the scale hit 142. Pretty amazing because I wasn’t looking to lose any weight when I started this. I was all in it for health, to get nourishment to my body, all of my cells and to keep dis-ease away!!!! The weight loss has been the bonus! It has also made me feel younger and healthier and I have an abundance of energy! I love it!

Eating raw has also given me a new-found freedom. I don’t really stress over too much anymore. There is so little we are in control of and the things we think we want to have control of we probably should just be letting go of. Other than going through  a small of emotional detox, my mind is clearer  and sharper and my emotions have been pretty even keeled. Yes, every once in a while I will be walking the beach and I will have tears streaming down my face. I always stop and breathe and just let whatever is happening happen. I don’t try to analyze it, I just go with it.

The beach, as my friend Laura put it, has been my Mecca. Every day that I can get out there and get that dose of sun (vitamin D), sand, salt water, and ocean air, I do! I relax out there, I meditate there, I exercise, I converse with strangers, and when I am out there I write. Some days I have a lot to write, others I just write about what I see and what the day is like. I feel so much love at the beach. Nature is an awesome thing most of us take for granted in our busy lives. I am so glad I have rediscovered nature and all of its wonders.

I have to say the past three months have been some of the most life transforming I have had in a long time. They have been invigorating, enlightening and humbling. There are many things I think contributed to this, but after going through a cancer diagnosis, it was time to take charge of my health and get things right in my body, mind and soul. Some people may think this is radical and that I have gone bonkers. The proof is in the results, I will take my way of eating over the fast food, hormone injected, GMO world I once lived in, any day…. that way of eating may not seem radical, but to someone who has already had cancer, I see it as dangerous to my health.

On that note, we all have to decide what works for us, whether it be diet, belief system, career choice or anything else important or not. Having said that, we should also be accepting, loving and kind towards each other. At some point there has to be a sense of tolerance from people on all sides of issues. People have become so rigid in their views, opinions and beliefs, and this closes the door to love, peace and harmony. I would rather live peacefully, than bicker and argue all of the time.  Just because I don’t agree with you doesn’t mean I can’t love you, because I will. Will you do the same for me?

Peace and Love

Natalie

The Color of Love

Amazing things happen at the beach in the morning hours. The sea overnight has returned the shore to a pristine state, where previous day’s footprints were what you could see for miles. It is especially invigorating to see the sun as it comes up on the horizon, the beauty it projects across the water and the hues the rays create on the water. Astounding! Love!

Today as I meditated and then walked, I couldn’t help but see love all around me. I sat and meditated for thirty minutes. As I was settling in a couple of people walked by glancing at me. I brought no towel to sit on. I just wanted to sink into the sand. As I was centering, I noticed a man who passed me walk a few hundred yards down the beach and sit in the sand. When this man passed me, I smiled and said good morning. I couldn’t help but think, did he want to see what it looked like to sit and look out at the beauty and colors the morning was creating? He didn’t stay long, but he took a moment.

Along the walk I stopped to talk with a few different people. The first person was a gentleman who comes to the beach each morning with his three-legged black lab. They have been coming for four years. I didn’t ask how the dog came to be without a leg, I just observed the love as this man talked about his experience with this beautiful dog. The dog fetches a stick from the ocean. Simply amazing if you ask me!

Further down the beach the other direction was another woman with her dog. I passed her as I walked, and she commented that she was moving slowly this morning. When I turned around to head back to my starting point I encountered her again, this time I stopped, asked her what her dog’s name was and we struck up a conversation.  She just needed someone to listen to her, to hear what she had to say, what she was feeling. A common human desire we all have, but sometimes are afraid to open our heart to. The intimacy of listening to another person, or having another person know what we are feeling can bring on a fear of being rejected. You have to accept yourself first, before love can enter and stay.

What was really the most enlightening experience of the morning for me is that thoughts, words and descriptions came into my head in waves and then they were gone. Things that described what I was experiencing in that moment. Some of the words I wanted to remember, but they were fleeting. I guess I was in that moment and those words were meant to be left there!

As I was leaving to go back to my car I smiled and said good morning to every person I passed.

Where the shore meets the sea your footprints are washed away with every incoming wave. Your footprints are there for that moment, and then they are gone. Learn to find the colors of love in every person and every thing around you. Walk purposefully every day, smile, give love and be willing to receive it.

Music to My Ears

8-track head cleaning cartridge tape

Image via Wikipedia

The songs I grew up with, the memories created as they played on the radio, turntable, or 8-track tape player, are some of the best windows to the days passed. A peek at how I became who I am today. Music is timeless and can set into motion a myriad of memories and emotions and does so most often in the first few bars.

Each song/piece has a unique ability to recollect a place, time period and often remind me of certain people who have left imprints on my voyage thus far. The music from my younger years lifts my spirit and always puts a smile on my face. I can always count on it to bring me joy if things are dreary.

Music is a part of everything we do. It plays as we are shopping, driving, and working. It is also incorporated in advertisements, tv shows, and movies. We listen to it when we celebrate, worship and mourn.

Today I have an iPod, iPhone, Sirius/XM radio and music channels in my cable programming. Although the media which I access music with has changed, the meanings and memories relived and newly created stay.

Music soothes my soul, energizes my spirit and bring me peace.

 

Today

Beach shoes

Image by doug88888 via Flickr

Being present in each moment is achievable when you engage the mind and breath in movement.

When we are fully present in a moment, we are aware of the inhalations and exhalations that sustain us.

Next Newer Entries