QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If we practice gratitude and keep a thankful heart, we’ll automatically extend inspiration wherever we go.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Day 119 in Gratitude

From time to time I'm going to ask friends to write an article on gratitude or a post on their daily gratitude - below is a post from my friend Evie.
My sister moved from the suburbs into Chicago recently and I was there to help her out and keep her company.  I'm very grateful for the wonderful movers that did all the heavy lifting.  They made the hard work of moving look quick and easy.
One thing that I noticed was head mover's wonderful ability to set expectations.  When he came across something that was very worn or broken he would make sure that my sister knew about it prior to it being packed.  I realized that sometimes we forget, or overlook, the shape things are in when in familiar settings, but in a new setting the worn or broken things might stand out.  When everything was packed he again set expectations.  He made sure he had my sister's cell phone number and that she had his so they could communicate if anything came up.  He also made sure he had directions, and estimated how long unpacking would take.
I'm grateful that the movers my sister hired were professional, set expectations and also kept the atmosphere light.  It made the sometimes stressful process of moving go much easier.
What are you grateful for today?
Evie Burke is a life coach who specializes in working with people who get a knot in their stomach when they think about going to work each day.  They’re ready for the knot to go away, but don’t want to leave their job.  She has a special place in her heart for these people, being one of them herself a couple times in her life.  To find out more about Evie visit: http://OneInsightCloser.com/about-me

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Day 118 in Gratitude

Keeping this blog has helped me tremendously. As days go by and I blog about my blessings, I feel more light-hearted and able to handle strong situations with a hopeful heart. And, knowing that in all things I am blessed, even the major challenges keep my mind looking forward.

There is a huge event happening tomorrow and I'm so excited and thankful for it. No, it's not the Royal Wedding of Prince William & Kate Middleton.  My brother-in-law is being released from the hospital tomorrow! With his numbers improving slowly but surely, his team of doctors feel he is ready to go home. He'll have a biopsy in a few weeks but for now, he can go home and be with his family. Thank you God!

One month ago I put together a vision board. A vision board is simply a visual representation or collage of the things that you want to have, be, or do in your life. It consists of a poster or foam board with cut-out pictures, drawings and/or writing on it of the things that you want in your life or the things that you want to become. The purpose of a vision board is to activate the law of attraction to begin to pull things from your external environment that will enable you to realize your dream. By selecting pictures and writing that charges your emotions with feelings of passion, you will begin to manifest those things into your life. I put this board by my bed and look at it every night before going to sleep and see it first thing in the morning when I wake. One of the images represents getting my career back on track. I've been derailed for a number of years due to 'life' situations. Well, Monday I received a call from a friend asking if I would be interested in a position at a former company I worked for for over 8 years. The guy who held that position just resigned a few hours before and my friend, the Sr VP, felt I would be a good fit. Within a matter of 48 hours, I was offered and accepted the position and start May 9th! I'm thrilled and very grateful for the wonderful opportunity. Whether you believe in the law of attraction or not, what would it hurt to give it a try?

One last but not least thing I am so very grateful for. My husband is starting his own business. This makes me so very proud. For the past year or more he has been trying to land a gig because of our need for good medical coverage. Well, now that I've accepted my new position we will have good coverage. This frees him up to start his own business and I couldn't be happier. The name of his company is Suite Spot Marketing. He went to a networking event last night and may have picked up his first client! I'm thrilled for him.

What are you grateful for?

Monday, April 25, 2011

Day 115 in Gratitude - a lesson from Wiki


All of these findings on gratitude are taken from Wikipedia. 

Empirical findings

Gratitude and well-being

A large body of recent work has suggested that people who are more grateful have higher levels of well-being. Grateful people are happier, less depressed, less stressed, and more satisfied with their lives and social relationships. Grateful people also have higher levels of control of their environments, personal growth, purpose in life, and self acceptance. Grateful people have more positive ways of coping with the difficulties they experience in life, being more likely to seek support from other people, reinterpreted and grow from the experience, and spend more time planning how to deal with the problem. Grateful people also have less negative coping strategies, being less likely to try to avoid the problem, deny there is a problem, blame themselves, or cope through substance use. Grateful people sleep better, and this seems to be because they think less negative and more positive thoughts just before going to sleep.
 Gratitude has been said to have one of the strongest links with mental health of any character trait. Numerous studies suggest that grateful people are more likely to have higher levels of happiness and lower levels of stress and depression. In one study concerning gratitude, participants were randomly assigned to one of six therapeutic intervention conditions designed to improve the participant’s overall quality of life (Seligman et. all., 2005). Out of these conditions, it was found that the biggest short-term effects came from a “gratitude visit” where participants wrote and delivered a letter of gratitude to someone in their life. This condition showed a rise in happiness scores by 10 percent and a significant fall in depression scores, results which lasted up to one month after the visit. Out of the six conditions, the longest lasting effects were caused by the act of writing “gratitude journals” where participants were asked to write down three things they were grateful for every day. These participants’ happiness scores also increased and continued to increase each time they were tested periodically after the experiment. In fact, the greatest benefits were usually found to occur around six months after treatment began. This exercise was so successful that although participants were only asked to continue the journal for a week, many participants continued to keep the journal long after the study was over. Similar results have been found from studies conducted by Emmons and McCullough (2003) and Lyubomirsky et. all. (2005).
 Whilst many emotions and personality traits are important to well-being, there is evidence that gratitude may be uniquely important. First, a longitudinal study showed that people who were more grateful coped better with a life transition. Specifically, people who were more grateful before the transition were less stressed, less depressed, and more satisfied with their relationships three months later. Second, two recent studies have suggested that gratitude may have a unique relationship with well-being, and can explain aspects of well-being that other personality traits cannot. Both studies showed that gratitude was able to explain more well-being than the Big Give and 30 of the most commonly studied personality traits.

Gratitude and altruism

Gratitude has also been shown to improve a person’s altruistic tendencies. One study conducted by David DeSteno and Monica Bartlett (2010) found that gratitude is correlated with economic generosity. In this study, using an economic game, increased gratitude was shown to directly mediate increased monetary giving. From these results, this study shows that gracious people are more likely to sacrifice individual gains for communal profit (DeSteno & Bartlett, 2010). A Study conducted by McCullough, Emmons, & Tsang, (2002) found similar correlations between gratitude and empathy, generosity, and helpfulness.

Interventions to increase gratitude

Given that gratitude appears to be a strong determinant of people's well-being, several psychological interventions have been developed to increase gratitude. For example, Watkins and colleagues had participants test a number of different gratitude exercises, such as thinking about a living person for whom they were grateful, writing about someone for whom they were grateful, and writing a letter to deliver to someone for whom they were grateful. Participants in the control condition were asked to describe their living room. Participants who engaged in a gratitude exercise showed increases in their experiences of positive emotion immediately after the exercise, and this effect was strongest for participants who were asked to think about a person for whom they were grateful. Participants who had grateful personalities to begin with showed the greatest benefit from these gratitude exercises.

Conclusions

According to Cicero, a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist and Roman Constitutionalist, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of the virtues but the parent of all others.” Multiple studies have shown the correlation between gratitude and increased wellbeing not only for the individual but for all people involved. The positive psychology movement has embraced these studies and in an effort to increase overall wellbeing, has begun to make an effort to incorporate exercises to increase gratitude into the movement. Although in the past gratitude has been neglected by psychology, in recent years much progress has been made in studying gratitude and its positive effects.

I don't know about you, my dear readers but I continue to stay on my path of holding a thankful heart. It is not easy but as I've said before, "I'm a work in progress."

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Day 113 in Gratitude

After three weeks of my husband being in New Jersey spending time with his family - he is back home safely!

 I am so grateful to have him back home with me.

What are you grateful for?

Day 112 in Gratitude - A Great Night With Me!

I had a wonderful "all about me" evening last night. I could have vacuumed, done a load of laundry, cleaned out some files on my desk or gone grocery shopping but decided differently.

I poured a glass of wine, listened to an on-line one hour talk from Mary Morrissey titled Consciously Designing Your Life. I wrote some entries in my journal on that same topic which was fun and enlightening. I found a fascinating show on National Geographic tv on The Galapagos Islands and learned some interesting facts about the Frigate Bird, the Furry Seal and the Albatross! The Islands are biologically diverse, they are one of the planet’s natural paradises and one of the most visited national parks in the world. Before last night, these are things I had no idea about. Then found a cute love story on On Demand tv titled How Do You Know with Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson. I am grateful to have taken this indulgence to enjoy my time alone. I had a great night with me!

What are you grateful for?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Day 111 in Gratitude

Roz Kovel; President and founder of X-it Strategies, Inc., which offers financial literacy education and objective advice about financial products and services. She calls herself a serial entrepreneur. She wouldn't say how many but has launched numerous businesses successfully. Check our her site at www.x-itstrategies.com.

Evie Burke; Life Coach and owner at One Insight Closer. Evie is grounded in the belief that everyone deserves to wake up every day happy about the possibilities that the day holds, knowing that you have the tools for any problem that comes your way. She offers the tools. She offers one on one coaching to get you to where you want to be. Check out her site at www.oneinsightcloser.com.

Susan Kendall: Business Owner at AuroraNightOut.com. A few years back she was CEO for Girl Scouts of America Fox Valley Council. Now she owns her own business linking business owners in Aurora to potential customers through on-line advertising. Check out her site at www.auroranightout.com.

Traci Ellis; Chicago Market Director for Ladies Who Launch. Traci blends her experience as a veteran attorney, business owner, author and speaker to inspire and guide women entrepreneurs through the exhilarating world of entrepreneurship. She provides on-point legal counsel, practical, real-life business advice, workshops and tools to help women successfully unleash their inner entrepreneur. She calls herself a corporate refugee. Check out her site at www.ladieswholaunch.com/chicago.

Heidi Cleary; a makeup artist who is launching her own botanical / natural makeup and skin care line. She has quite an interesting story about how she decided to go in this direction after waking one morning with MRSA, a contagious staph bacteria that infected the skin on her face.Her line will be called Heidi Carin Cosmetics and as soon as her site is up and running I'll offer the link.

Diane Sabers; co-owner of a flooring company. She co-owns the company with her husband but this is not her passion. Her passion is starting her own outerwear fashion line of clothing. This has been a long-time dream of Dianes and is taking the necessary steps to get her where she wants to be. When she talks about her clothing line, her entire being lights up the room - she comes alive and bubbles over with passion.

I had the privilege of meeting and talking with all of these ladies today and can honestly say they are all extraordinary. I am blessed to have met them and grateful to have the opportunity to get to know them even more in the months to come.

What are you grateful for?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 110 in Gratitude

www.gretchenparlato.com

I still love
Lyrics by Gretchen Parlato

Even if you said goodbye
Even if a dream may die
Even when my life is through
No matter what you say or do
I still love

Even if it makes me cry
Even if I don’t know why
Even when things fall apart
Even if you break my heart
I still love

Even when I feel alone
Even if I had no home
Til my fears have gone away
Let it go and come what may
I still love

Through my job and through my pain
Like the sun that follows rain
No beginning and no end
Love, so love comes back again
I still love

There's something about these lyrics that grab me. (And her voice is mesmerizing.) With the good, with the bad - I still love. The lyrics, this song reminds me of how I strive to live my life. Carrying yourself every day with optimism, gratitude, a thankful heart is not easy, but it's the way I choose to live. Seeing the world with grateful eyes helps you see things more clearly. Some days are so foggy it's a challenge to see through all the muck but if you look very closely - you'll find what you need to see.

What are you grateful my dear readers? Please share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Day 107 in Gratitude

While in my kitchen making dinner tonight I watched a tv program about a man who is paralyzed from the neck down. He endures many tasks during the day that for most of us take a matter of a few minutes. For him, just getting out of bed, getting to the bathroom to wash up and brush his teeth takes him over three hours. Three hours! Think about that. The next time you jump out of bed, walk by yourself to the bathroom, wash up and brush your teeth without anyone's assistance, some people aren't as fortunate. He has to wait for someone to turn on lights and open doors. He literally can't do any task without someone's help. His outlook on life is so inspiring and his motto; "whatever life hands you, you just keep going." Truly inspiring.

Today I am grateful for working hands, arms and legs. Thank you God.

What are you grateful for?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Day 105 in Gratitude - A Time To Celebrate!

Appreciate everything that you have and don't have and find ways every day to celebrate them.

The benefits of celebrating. I believe the happier you are the more you're a magnet for other happy people. People are naturally drawn to others who are having fun and enjoying life. Complaints drain your energy. At a previous job that was stressful, I used to come home and say that the job sucked the sunshine right out of me. Have you ever walked into your office kitchen and found a co-worker complaining about his or her partner, their job and/or their financial situation? You want to run out of there as quickly as possible! But take that same kitchenette filled with people who are engaged in light conversation and just enjoying themselves - you stay to soak up the positive energy. The more fun you have doing mundane tasks, the more enjoyable you become. Having fun or celebrating the simple things brings great joy to you and those around you. How about calling your best friend to tell her you've just made the best chocolate cake ever!

We've been taught at an early age that it's in bad form to celebrate, it's considered boasting or bragging. Bragging lacks humility and focuses solely on you and doesn't include anyone else in the good news. But when you're feeling good about your accomplishments, no matter how great or small, it allows others around you to start feeling good about some of their accomplishments as well. The more you can look for the good in your life, the more good you can see, the more your mind becomes programmed to celebrate it. You don't have to throw a party because you learned how to change the oil on your car but you can make yourself a nice dinner or light a few candles and soak in the tub. Celebrating is any form of positive acknowledgement.

A few things I celebrate - An Attitude of Gratitude!
I celebrate the fact that my taxes are done and filed.
I celebrate that I know how to read and write.
I celebrate that I had a great smoothie for breakfast this morning.
I celebrate that I received a phone call from an out of state girlfriend and we caught up on each others lives.
I celebrate my bills because they are evidence of shelter provide, fun had, great meals eaten and some kick-ass shoes on my feet. Bills are receipts from a life well-lived ( I love that line!)
I celebrate my job which gives me financial security while I plan my next move.

What can you celebrate?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Day 104 in Gratitude - The Power of Words



I am grateful to have eyes to see the beautiful morning sun, the afternoon clouds in the sky and the gorgeous sunset.

What are you grateful for?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Day 102 in Gratitude

Brian Tracy has taught me many things...many, many things. Of all the lessons that I've learned in business and in my personal life, the one Brian Tracy lesson that has stuck with me for years is this; Wake each and every day and say out loud, "I feel terrific!" "I feel terrific!" over and over and over again until you've convinced yourself that you actually do feel terrific. For those of you who don't know who Brian Tracy is, Brian has dedicated his life and built a company on the training and development of individuals and organizations. So today, I feel the need to say thank you to Brian Tracy.I have learned much.

When a family member is going through a challenging health situation it always seems to help people put things into perspective. Today I made a commitment to myself that I was going to be very cognizant of how many times I complained about something trivial.

First it was the belt on my car engine. For the past week, every time I start and drive my car, this horrible screeching sound penetrates my ears and the ears of the drivers within a mile of my car. How embarrassing! As I drive down the street, everyone peers at me and makes this face as if to say, "shut that car up!"

The second time I complained was while I was at work. Going over a report, I was asked to re-structure and re-submit it. Ugh! After hours of logical thinking, strategically putting that report together and to be asked to re-structure it without the logic...what a waste of time!

The third time I complained was when one of my neighbors stopped by tonight to sell me candy for a fund-raiser. I was on the phone talking to a friend, catching up and I had to end the call to answer the door. After asking him which fund-raiser he was campaigning for, he told me it was for a start up not-for-profit. I came back in and looked it up, it didn't exist.

All of these things, all of these complaints were just annoyances. Distractions that annoyed me and/or took me away from something I thought was more important. How silly. The point of my challenge today was to bring attention to these things and when I realize I'm complaining stop, take a deep, long breath in and realize; I am healthy, my children are healthy, my husband is healthy. I can deal with and fix a squeeky belt on a car, re-do a report and take time to talk to a neighbor who I believe is just lonely. But by no means are these annoyances anything to complain about. My brother-in-law is sitting in a hospital room battling leukemia and if asked, he would much rather be home having to replace a belt on his car, re-analyze a report and take a few moments to talk with a lonely neighbor. I have my health and for that, I am truly grateful.

What are you grateful for? Share your thoughts, I'd love to hear from you!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 100 in Gratitude

We received very grim news today about my brother-in-laws progress. The doctors feel that his system cannot tolerate any more chemo treatments as well as another marrow transplant. They are treating him for a fungal pneumonia and skin lesions that are infected but feel there is nothing more they can do.

I called Cancer Treatment Centers of America and talked with a two time cancer survivor about what our options were. This is from Cancer Treatment Centers of America home page;

What kind of care would you want for a loved one who is fighting cancer? 
This is the question the experts at Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) ask themselves every day. This question is what motivates us to continually research and employ innovative new techniques and therapies to fight cancer on all fronts.
We call this quest the Mother Standard® of care. It means our entire focus is driven by the advanced whole-person treatment options and the kind of care we would want for our own family members. Here, doctors care for you like family. Our Mother Standard of care is the essence of CTCA.
For almost 30 years, CTCA has been on the leading edge of cancer treatment with this personalized, whole-person care model. With cancer hospitals in suburban Chicago, Philadelphia, Tulsa, and suburban Phoenix, CTCA continues to expand its accessibility to patients. Our cancer experts provide a full range of treatment options—including options for advanced stage cancers and complex cases—all under one roof.
At CTCA, we understand that cancer doesn't just affect one part of the body. It affects all of you and everything in your life. Here, you will receive a personalized treatment plan which includes a powerful combination of advanced conventional treatments combined with supportive complementary medicine therapies. This whole-person approach helps you fight cancer while you enjoy a good quality of life.
Our doctors believe in your fundamental right to be informed about, and to choose among, the best available options for your cancer treatment. Using our Patient Empowerment Medicine® model, your multidisciplinary care team will empower you to actively and meaningfully participate in your cancer care. Rather than telling you what you need, your doctors at CTCA will listen to you and provide clear, well-defined choices.
Furthermore, we strive to make your visit to a CTCA hospital as convenient and stress-free as possible. Our representatives will handle all of the details for you, including your transportation and lodging arrangements. While here, our cancer hospitals offer a positive, hopeful environment for you and your loved ones so you can relax and focus on healing.
With the Mother Standard of care as a guide, CTCA cancer experts never stop searching for options to help you fight cancer on all fronts.

My husband and sister-in-law will contact them tomorrow for support. It may be too late for my brother-in-law because of the progression of his disease but I highly recommend anyone dealing with cancer should contact them. They offer hope and sometimes that is exactly what the patient and their families need. Hope. I'm glad I called, thank you CTCA.

We take our health for granted. We wake every day and just expect our bodies to function exactly the way they have the day before and the years before that. We never take the time to stop and say a prayer of gratitude for what we have. Why? We're busy. Our lives are so hectic. We get up, make coffee, throw a load of laundry in, take the dog out, put the dishes in the dishwasher and go to work. Work 8-10 hours, come home, make dinner, put the laundry in the dryer, take the dog for a walk, call the boys to see how they are, clean up the kitchen, sit and read a book or watch tv, kiss our loved ones goodnight and go to bed. Such precious moments! Such precious moments that we will never get back and we take them all for granted.

I so want this blog to teach me not to take these precious moments for granted. Thank you God, thank you for every breath I take, for every beat of my heart - thank you.

What are you grateful for?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Day 99 in Gratitude

I am grateful Spring has finally sprung! Today was sunny and in the 70's. It was perfect weather, I had all the windows open, the breeze was light and my dog was enjoying every minute of it. I took him for a nice, long walk and when we returned home, he laid on his back and appeared to be sunbathing...LOL.

My Mom stopped by today. That small act made me happy. She never stops by for no reason but today she did and for that, I am thankful.

I met some friends tonight to listen to a band and have a glass of wine. The band was great, very tight harmonizing and music from the 70s. Easy conversation and very relaxing. I am missing my husband tho, he would have loved the music and the company. I am grateful to have such wonderful friends. I love you guys!

What are you grateful for?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Day 98 in Gratitude - A Pending Governement Shutdown...really??

There's so much going on right now. The US Government finally reached a tentative agreement to stay open for the next 6 days to continue their debates on spending. What an embarrassment and hardly inspiring that they took this negotiation down to the wire to come to an agreement to continue the debate. And, once they do finally come to a majority agreement, it will be time to debate the 2012 budget! I am proud to be an American, I appreciate that we do have differences and everyone has a right to be heard. But these issues should have been addresses months ago and a resolution reached. A government shutdown is not the end of the world and we have come through it before, but at a time when the economy is in such disarray and the fact that we've had 5 or 6 extensions on the original 2011 budget that was brought to the table in Feb 2010 - this is tough to swallow. I am thankful that they have come to this agreement so that our military families will receive their paychecks.

My brother-in-law has his good days and bad. AML is a tough cancer that is so unpredictable and ruthless. It seems that one day he has energy to walk around the floor of the hospital, and the next he is exhausted. I guess this is fairly common. Most days his outlook is guardedly hopeful but some days he seems to force himself to look at his possible reality which seems dim. My husband stayed in NJ to spend time and to help in any way he can. I am very proud of his decision to offer his time and unconditional love and am thankful that his circumstances allow him to do so.

What are you grateful for?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 94 in Gratitude - A Challenging Time

I spent a long weekend in Princeton, NJ spending time with my brother and sister-in-law and their family. My sister-in-law is full of life and laughter. She is a very strong-willed woman who knows what she wants and goes out and gets it. She is not shy, very successful and loves her family unconditionally. She is the matriarch of the family and everyone seems to come to her for advice, unconditional love and her amazing cooking. No one goes home hungry in this family - no one! I really enjoyed spending time with her, albeit short, talking, sharing stories and laughing out loud. I admire her strength and courage at this very difficult time. Her husband, my husband's brother, is battling AML; acute myeloid leukemia. For the past 12 months my brother-in-law has spent 8 months in the hospital having numerous rounds of chemo and a marrow transplant. They live in NJ and wanted the best of the best so he is in a hospital in Philly which is over an hour drive one way. The challenges they face on a daily basis are extraordinary and yet she carries herself with grace. I am thankful to have her as my sister-in-law.


My husband stayed on to help with driving, running errands and going to the hospital to spend time with his brother. This is a difficult time for him. He tries to stay upbeat and positive but is struggling to understand why, after just one year of his brother's retirement, he is diagnosed with this horrible acute disease. I know in my heart of hearts everyone has their destiny. Their path is charted. But this is a tough one to swallow. I pray for my brother-in-law and his family and for my husband so that he may come to terms with this and allow himself quality time with his brother. I am grateful that my husband took the time to stay and do this for his family. I love you baby.


What are you grateful for?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Day 91 in Gratitude

We're leaving for New Jersey in the morning. My husband's brother's leukemia is back, and he's back in the hospital. In the past year this will make three months out of twelve that he's been in the hospital. Three rounds of chemo, and depending on what the doctors advise, maybe a second bone marrow transplant. He's tired, isn't really sure what tomorrow will bring, but his attitude is great - and we'd all do well to take a lesson there. Live life well. Every day.

I'll be able to stay for a long weekend, and my husband will stay for as long as he's needed, and try to help as best he can. It's going to be a tiring trip, but these are the times when you just do whatever you can to be there for family, no matter what the past has been. The past is over. Right now, it's all about today, one today at a time.

I'm grateful for the love of friends and family.
I'm grateful for another day on this beautiful, precious, one-of-a-kind planet.
And I'm grateful for my health.

What are you grateful for?