Have you ever been at the healthiest place in your life—but slip away from your habits and routines—only to eventually get back to your healthy place again, thinking: “I’m so fulfilled and happy when I’m healthy, how do I allow myself to slip?”
Slowly, day by day, we get wrapped up in life’s demands until we just can’t operate on low-fuel anymore. Then we look back to our happy-healthy place and long to be in our centered place that feels like “home”.
We’ve all done it. Whether your healthy place is mental health, physical health, spiritual health or all of the above. We all get busy, overwhelmed, have unexpected or tragic life circumstances rip the carpet right out from beneath us.
Embrace – Grow – Honor
I want to invite you to embrace those cycles of life. Sure it would be fabulous to always be happy and healthy, but where would your growth come from? Where would your appreciation for the broken, the poor, your neighbors or elders come from?
Through life’s lessons we learn more clearly that everyone has a story. And, everyone’s story should be honored, no matter how different.
We recognize grace that was bestowed upon us in our time of challenge or troubles, is equally impacting when we also give that grace to others. We realize that a smile, a hug, an act of service, an unexpected note in the mail, a gift or a listening ear can change a person’s entire outlook. It doesn’t end there, though. Remember, the ripple effect? When you give of yourself to others, your simple gesture spreads positive energy throughout the community. It’s equivalent to “paying It forward.”
Mindfulness in action
Be mindful of your steps, the words you speak and the people who come across your path throughout the day. It’s no mistake they are there. My hope is that you’re inspired to reach out, give, support and love more in your daily walk.
I like to think I’ve always been someone with an extra smile to give away or an extra warm complement to share. My heart for others has always been open and without judgement. I learned in my early twenties about the abundance of grace, forgiveness and pure joy. My life was transformed and I was forever changed. Thank you, God!!
I also learned that none of us are perfect and everyone has a story. I learned that filling myself up with joy will naturally cause my cup to overflow and spill joy from within, onto others. Giving of myself, in whatever way I felt led, was actually fueling my own joy up, tremendously, day after day. I found true peace and life was darn good!!!
At the heart of giving is joy, peace and love. It’s not only what we’re extending to others, but it’s what we’re filling ourselves up with, at the same time. Arguably, greater is our reward when we give. As it’s been said…giving is living.
Bonnie Gross is formerly the General Manager of Mind Body Align. Her roles included overseeing operations, community collaborations, promotion and planning. Prior to this position, she was the Visitor Services Manager at Kingwood Center Gardens. Bonnie also has over eight years experience in the healthcare industry ranging from Director of Admissions to Community Liaison.
She is passionate about helping others, being a strong source of encouragement and always finding new ways to be the best person she can be. Her dedication, commitment and drive come from a strong hard-working family background.
Bonnie is an active member in the community and currently serves as an Ambassador for the Richland Area Chamber of Commerce. She enjoys cooking, reading motivational self-help books, the outdoors and spending time with her family of five.
Why do you give? What do you want the impact of your giving to be? What do you intend to create for yourself, your loved ones, and your community through the act of giving? When I ask myself these questions, the journey always leads me to a simple destination. I want to give love and happiness.
Simple, and not easy! Per the Webster’s Dictionary, to give means: “to freely transfer the possession of something to someone”. That seems straight forward if I’m giving someone an object like a piece of jewelry. Then I asked myself, when I give love, what is the thing I’m possessing that I’m transferring to someone? What is love?
So, I invite you to pause with me for a second to explore. You might want to remember a moment when you felt love or deeply loved.
What is happening in your memory? Who was with you? Where does the memory take place?
Take a deep breath and allow yourself to recall a special moment of feeling love. When you have the memory clearly in your mind and heart, and when you can see, hear and know you are feeling love, ask yourself, what is the feeling of love? Simply breathe, and notice.
What is the felt sensation of love?
The Five Love Languages
I have been doing a lot of Christmas shopping, and while shopping, I have been lamenting the fact that I feel I am not a great giver of gifts. I never know what to buy, I’m afraid that the receiver won’t like my gift, and It seems so wasteful to buy something that’s not needed or wanted. When I evaluate the impact of my gift buying, I realize that I’m just not feelin’ the love.
Many years ago I read a book called “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. In this book, the author describes five ways we communicate love, appreciation, and gratitude.
The Five Love Languages are:
- Receiver of Gifts
- Quality Time
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
My primary “love language” is Quality Time – I feel loved when someone spends “quality” time with me. My secondary love language is Acts of Service – I feel loved when someone does something for me; when someone serves my needs without being asked.
The love language that is at the bottom of my list is Receiver of Gifts. Sure, I like receiving gifts, but, I feel loved when I am invited to do something fun, or if someone does something that I need done without my having to ask.
When I remembered that giving gifts is not a way that I understand love or feel loved, I immediately relaxed into gift giving for the holidays. I began to inquire into my loved one’s love languages. For example, my husband and I have similar love languages. So as a gift for Carl, I will stop looking for “cool Carl stuff” to buy and I will find an experience or an event that we can do together. As for my Mom, she doesn’t feel loved when receiving gifts either. As I think back and remember her words and her behavior, I am guessing that her love languages are Words of Affirmation and Quality Time. I will find something she would enjoy that we can do together, and I will give it to her with a mushy card.
So, how do you know someone’s love language?
Here is my suggestion. Look at them, really look at them. Notice how they show you love. Do they buy you the best gifts? That would indicate someone who is a Receiver of Gifts. Do they invite you to go places and do things that are fun and unusual? That would indicate someone who will feel loved if you spend Quality Time with them. Do they send you heartfelt cards for every occasion or call you to tell you how much they love and miss you? This person will feel loved and appreciated if you shower them with Words of Affirmation. Possibly you know someone who is always doing little things for you without being asked. They will know you love them if you perform some Acts of Service. And finally, do you have someone special in your life who is always hugging, touching you on the shoulder or patting you on the head? This person will likely respond to physical touch. Put your arms around them and give them a 20 second hug. Even if they wiggle and move, they will know that you love them.
Now it’s Your Turn
What are your love languages? What are the love languages of your loved ones?
Mother Teresa wrote, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”
I encourage you to take a moment (another deep breath) and notice what you’re really giving to the people you love this holiday season. Is it a card and a sweater in a beautifully wrapped box, or is it true love and a moment of happiness?[/themedy_alertbox]
Annamarie Fernyak is the founder and CEO of Mind Body Align LLC based in Mansfield, Ohio. She is a certified life coach, mindfulness meditation teacher, and serial entrepreneur. The development of the MBAwareness Education Program was conceived while Annamarie was volunteering to teach mindfulness in a local middle school and found that the teachers and students were struggling to grow calm for their guest teacher, students seemed unable to pay focused attention, and the teachers were growing frustrated.
Annamarie’s focus was to create a program that would transform the lives of the students. She focused on hiring a licensed teacher to create and instruct the mindfulness-based social and emotional learning curriculums to elementary and secondary school students and teachers. Due to the challenges associated with global health concerns, Annamarie’s mindfulness education program is further now evolving into online mindfulness education focusing on teaching tools that reduce stress and support a life where people can feel more at ease. We also teach as a part of corporate wellness programs.
In 2017, Annamarie launched Align Mindfulness which is a FREE app downloadable from your app store that sends prompts a few times a day, bringing attention to what’s happening in your world. Intentionally simple, these reflections help you build a well-rounded “mindfulness” muscle by offering variety in where you place your awareness.