Choosing to be grateful is just a shift in thinking. For some, it is a significant shift. For others more subtle. To me, the key word in our topic for November is choice.
Our thoughts naturally seem to turn to thankfulness and gratitude as we approach Thanksgiving. We are inundated with commercials meant to tug at both our heart and purse strings to remind us to appreciate the little things, not to mention those Hallmark movies that I love so much.
Social media is full of folks proclaiming their gratitude for things both big and small. Recently I even jumped into the pool. I committed to posting three things each day for which I’m grateful. I was going to make a conscious effort and demonstrate it for the whole world to see. Do you want to know how many times I did this? Once. Let me repeat: I did it once.
I set the intention wholeheartedly. I put it out there and dropped the proverbial ball. I publicly said that I was going to do this every day for November. It happened once!
Beating myself up
The reason I’m sharing this with you is that I want to focus for a minute on choosing gratitude and self-compassion.
One of the benefits of the mindfulness practice is that one learns to experience life in the present moment. Recognizing it for what it is, not resisting and then making a choice – rather than reacting.
Before I started practicing mindfulness, the dialog in my head would have been something like this:
What are people going to think? I only posted once. Am I a truly selfish person?
Couldn’t I even list three things a day?
Am I so important or busy that I couldn’t take time out of my day to post?
Does any of this sound familiar to you?
Letting myself off the hook
Luckily, along with living mindfully and choosing gratitude comes a little thing called compassion. As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, it took me years to learn about compassion. I could be overly compassionate toward others but rarely toward myself. This current situation was a time when I needed to choose to pull out the self-compassion card.
Does anyone remember my announcement on Facebook? Answer: Most likely, no. Technically, I could go into my timeline and delete it (going there now. click, delete and gone). Does it mean that I am ungrateful because I didn’t send a press release to Richland Source every time I had a moment of gratitude? NO. I needed to let myself off of the hook. It doesn’t even matter what the reasons were for not sticking to my plan. I felt guilt and shame.
By writing this post, I have the opportunity to reflect on this recent situation. The truth is that I feel gratitude in a million little moments in every single day. Just like most of you. We need to choose to recognize those times, but it doesn’t always require demonstrating through a grand gesture. A quiet acknowledgment does the job.
Recognize the good
As usual, I’ve taken the long road, but my point is that we can choose to appreciate things around us that are good. In Hebrew, it is called “Hakarat ha’Tov.” (pronounced HA-car-ott, HA-tove)
The literal translation is recognizing the good. When we are not experiencing gratitude, and we suddenly recognize it, we can choose to show compassion to ourselves. Choosing gratitude can be just this little shift in our thinking and remembering this short phrase: Hakarat ha’Tov.
So here it is ladies. It’s another thing that we can add to our list of things to not over-think. Gratitude. It’s not about forcing a feeling, keeping to a schedule of Facebook posts or feeling obligated to do something. It is a simple thing, Hakarat ha’Tov, or recognizing the good.
Thanksgiving is on Thursday so my call to action for each of you, a “no pressure” call to action, is to recognize the good.
Jennifer Blue is the Operations Director for Mind Body Align having joined the team in August of 2017. She studied political science at Otterbein College and the University of Louisville. She returned to Mansfield in 2005 and is excited to be a part of the positive changes occuring in our community.
Nourish: provide with the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.
July is the month of Nourishing at Mind Body Align. Nourish is one of my favorite words. You can nourish your body, your mind, your spirit, a child, a friend, a friend’s child, an animal, your environment, and even the community. And, I am going to challenge you to come up with some fun ways to do just that this month.
First, grab a writing implement and piece of paper, I’ll wait.
Next, find a comfortable place to sit, lightly close your eyes and take five slow, deep, cleansing breaths. I am going to wait right here until you finish. You can even roll your shoulders or your eyes a few times before you answer the following questions:
1. How will you nourish yourself?
2. How will you nourish family and friends?
3. How will you nourish the environment?
4. How will you nourish community?
I want you to be creative, detailed and have some fun!
How can you support growth, health and good condition in each of those areas this month? I will share my answers with you so you can hold me accountable and I would love it if you shared some of yours!
I, Linda Snyder…
1. Will nourish myself by eating a healthy breakfast at least 5 days a week, listening to music when I cook, and creating 30 minutes daily for outside meditation. NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS!
2. I will nourish family and friends by actively listening, not only in person, but when on the telephone by turning off any distractions that may be present while on the call.
3. I will nourish the environment by refraining from purchasing anything made of plastic during the month of July (this includes polyester and acrylic clothing) and reducing my shower time to 5 minutes, even when I travel for work. I will sing my naked woman song while showering. (This song was created many years ago while my daughter and I were tent camping in Maine. It cost .25 cents to shower so we showered together, quickly.)
4. I will nourish my community by attending public events, exploring places I can volunteer, and purchasing goods from local establishments.
See? That’s do-able isn’t it?
Now it’s YOUR turn – please share your answers below.
Linda Snyder is a Certified Integrative Health Coach and Yoga Teacher who just downsized, along with her husband and two cats, into a 38-foot Motorhome on the West Coast of Florida. Linda enjoys being outside, dancing in the grocery store, and traveling.
When the MBA team gave me the topic of “Nourish” it seemed like a logical fit for someone in the restaurant business. But the longer I thought about the topic, the less I felt qualified to write about it!
What does “Nourish” really mean? Synonyms include: feed, provide for, sustain, maintain, enhance, cherish, nurture, foster, harbor, etc.
So, OK, I feed people; I provide food for people; I give the opportunity to people to enhance their diets with healthy food options. Those are the obvious reasons for me to write on this topic. But to me, Nourish has a more spiritual meaning.
Humans nourish themselves not only by feeding their bodies, but also through doing the things that they are passionate about and that make them happy. Which is precisely why I wasn’t sure that I was qualified to write about this topic. Being a business owner is hard work, and while I am happy doing it I find that I have ignored myself in the process. The things that I used to be passionate about have been pushed aside.
I was not nourishing myself. Or, so I thought.
While pondering these revelations, I kept being reminded of a profound experience that happened to me at the restaurant one day.
It was a very busy day and we had a full dining room plus many delivery orders to fill. I was feeling pretty stressed when all of a sudden I stopped and listened to the sounds of happy people talking and laughing in the dining room, and I had an overwhelming feeling that my Italian Grandma would be so proud if she could see what I have accomplished (and yes, tears are streaming down my face while I write this.)
My Grandma would invite all the nuns and the priest and anyone else who didn’t have somewhere to go for holiday meals… she loved to feed a crowd. Feeding people in a warm, loving environment nourished her soul. That profound experience nourished my soul.
With loving nourishment
Maybe one day I can get back to those things that I used to be passionate about. For now, I will nourish my soul by helping others find nourishment… not only through offering the healthy food options, but also by providing a place where they will always be greeted with a welcome, a smile, and a warm, loving place to meet friends.
I hope that you have/take time to nourish whatever you are passionate about. Feed your soul! And if, like me, you feel that you’ve had to push aside the things you are passionate about, I hope you can find nourishment being exactly where you are. Your soul will thank you.
Susan is the owner of Doc’s Deli, celebrating 10 years of nourishing people with healthy food options. She is a graduate of Ohio State University Agricultural Technical Institute, Wooster, with a degree in Greenhouse Management and Floral Design, and a graduate of the Master Gardener program. While life has taken a lot of twists and turns along the way, gardening is a passion that Susan hopes to find more time for in the near future!
When Mind Body Align asked me to write the Live Vibrantly blog, I was honored and excited to be given this topic. It is, as a matter of fact, the way I strive to live my life. My hope is that my story will inspire you to live vibrantly no matter what curve ball is thrown your way… like the curve ball thrown my way at a young age.
Welcome to Your New Life
Let’s rewind 32 years.
At the age of 18 and one week prior to graduation, overwhelming news was given to me. I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes and I was immediately required to inject insulin with a needle. A big fear! As any teenager would react, I was confused, scared and not sure how I was going to handle this burden since my life up until now was fairly “normal.”
I had two choices:
Let diabetes wreak havoc on my life and become depressed about it, -OR-
Take control of the disease and do whatever I could to stay healthy.
You guessed it, I took control!
Don’t get me wrong, there were ups and downs of life events dealing with diabetes. I won’t sugarcoat it (no pun intended).
Strong family support and a great team of doctors kept me in check. Diabetes didn’t cause me to be angry at life nor to question why I ended up with it. I learned to appreciate the challenges of the disease and use my mantra “let’s look at the positive side” to change negative habits into positive ones.
A friend once said, “You’re diabetic? But you’re always so happy and active.” It was this comment I knew I needed to be a role model for others diagnosed with this disease. There is no way diabetes has to slow anyone down!
Hit the Ground Running
I took up running at the age of 30 and switched from injecting insulin with needles to wearing an insulin pump. Running became a new passion for me. It gives me time to clear my mind, enjoy the scenery and re-energize myself. Any form of exercise can physically, emotionally and mentally make you feel amazing! When you feel amazing and share your passion with the world, it positively impacts others. It’s a ripple effect.
In my mid-40s, I challenged myself to run a Tough Mudder obstacle race and a ½ marathon. (I have three Tough Mudders and three ½ marathons under my belt so far!) Those types of challenges might not be the definition of living vibrantly for everyone, but for me, it’s what keeps me smiling and motivated. What motivates you?
The New Normal
My life now consists of checking my blood sugar up to ten times a day, visits to the Endocrinologist and eating healthy. Running keeps me positive and well-balanced, plus I enjoy sharing tips with others on exercise and diabetes. Having diabetes has taught me discipline, appreciation and bravery. Diabetes altered my life and I’m thankful for it. It has put me on a path to a healthier life style with the purpose to enrich the lives of others with my story.
As I searched living vibrantly topics on the internet, the definition “pulsating with vigor and energy” kept appearing. I laughed to myself thinking, yep, that’s me! We all want a happy, vibrant life. We all have circumstances in our lives that throw us a curve ball and it’s how we choose to live our lives that will make the difference. Do your very best at whatever life hands you. Surround yourself with positive influences. Find support groups. Live your life with passion. Go out into the world with a smile on your face and share your enthusiasm with others. We all deserve a vibrant life.
Jodie is proud to say she has been with the Destination Mansfield team since 1988 after graduating from North Central State College. She is a graduate of Institutes for Organization Management/U.S. Chamber of Commerce at the University of Norte Dame and became a Certified Travel Industry Specialist through the American Bus Association. Her duties include attracting motorcoach tours to the area, conducting media visits for travel writers and promoting the world famous Shawshank Trail tourism product.
Take a moment to consider our naturally designed state of being; like the love, happiness and curiosity of a toddler. You see, we are created in love, therefore; we are love. As an adult, we must learn to let go of the past, so we can look forward with “fresh eyes”… to love and nurture our beautiful thriving life.
Human nature allows us to get stuck in old habits and viewpoints long after they quit serving us. However, we do not have to stay in the same mindset. We are free to cultivate new thoughts and ideas at any time and at any age. We all know men and women who have the spirit and enthusiasm of the very young, we also know people who act and think in the reverse. Why are we fearful of change? Perhaps, it’s the fear of the unknown, a lack of self-confidence or just not knowing what we don’t know.
Who will you be?
The choice is always available to us and we can choose as often as we wish. Ask yourself, “How will I show up today? What are my intentions?” What a relief to know that our old thoughts and resentful feelings of today, when rooted in nourishing love and compassion for ourselves are able to reinvented. Through these reinvented thoughts and feelings we are able to create whomever we want to see in the mirror.
I will open my eyes to whatever I choose to see today, and yesterday’s experiences have only the power I do—or don’t—give them.
My personal story has been one of many rebirths. I grew up in a broken home with many life-altering experiences through childhood and into adulthood.
I was searching for a place to belong to feel loved which lead me to marry young and divorce the same man twice. That event lead me to the multi-role job of a single mother with two wonderful girls. Days after the nest was officially empty, I am blessed to have found new love and have recently remarried.
Change is our destiny
I consider myself lucky to have had my father who would tell me “You are able to do anything you put my mind to.”
Professionally I have chosen to reinvent myself a few times. As a young woman, I managed a mobile food service business with 20-25 employees. I switched gears to work in the salon industry as a sales consultant. Next up, I earned my real estate license in 2008 and started selling homes part-time in addition to my salon construct still.
Then, I decided a couple of years ago to take the leap into a full-time real estate career. My heart is so full today because helping people find the right home is incredibly rewarding.
This is what I know for sure: Where ever you want to go – you can, What ever you think you can do – you will.
Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t change. Life = change. It’s not a magic trick, it is simply your will. Your thoughts become your words, become your actions, become your reality.
A beginners mind and living in curiosity will allow you to experience each moment with fresh eyes.
Lori is grateful to pursue her passion for living at Haring Realty. She is an accredited home stager (ASP), a Certified Master Gardner, is an alumni of the 2016 Leadership Unlimited class, a board member of Downtown Mansfield, Inc. and Domestic Violence Shelter, as well as a Mansfield Altrusian and Kingwood Center Garden volunteer. Lori is well-versed on the treasures of the community and connects clients by utilizing an ever-expanding network of individuals. She continues to look for ways to keep her edge and is dedicated to becoming one of the best at what she does.
In her free time you will find her enjoying the arts and the outdoors; golfing, skiing, gardening and spending quality time with her family and friends.
Lori Holden genuinely enjoys the time spent with her clients and is dedicated to never disappoint and exceed in the needs of her clients while operating with integrity and professionalism.
When I was asked to write this blog post, I was deeply humbled and grateful for the opportunity, but also frightened because I certainly don’t consider myself an expert in growth. I’m very much on a journey full of challenges and struggles peppered with successes and failures along the way. So instead of writing it on the spot, I spent three months thinking about and meditating on growth from my perspective at the Renaissance Theatre, as a young mother/wife, and as a woman trying to figure out how she fits into the world. This is what I’ve learned:
1. Growth happens gradually
I’m not big on New Year’s Resolutions, but I believe in the value of self-reflection and goal setting. The holidays afford me the time to reflect and assess, so I set a few goals for myself that coincided with New Year’s. At the time, these goals seemed really lofty – I wanted to improve my overall health and train for a 5K. Context: I’d never run more than a mile in my entire life and my baby was 3 weeks old when I set this goal. In fact, I’m not even certain I’d run a whole mile start to finish – I always found a way to get out of running in high school gym class.
Little by little, day by day, I’ve made small changes. I purchased a gym membership and started going a few times per week. I started logging my food every day, even if I blew my calorie goal. I started small – spending a few minutes on the elliptical, or going to a yoga class, and eventually dared to step on the treadmill. I found something to distract me while running that felt like a reward. I started addressing my negative self-talk and turned off the negative voice telling me that “I am not a runner. I cannot do this.” Yesterday was the first time I braved running outside, off a treadmill, something I’d feared because I didn’t believe I could do it – I didn’t expect to love it so much. Daily, small choices that are easily made are making bigger life changes like tiny grains of sand in an hourglass. I haven’t achieved my goal yet, but I’m growing and soon I will.
2. Sometimes growth is painful
When I was a little girl, I vividly recall my mom massaging my shins while I cried – they ached terribly at night and within a couple of days I would be a little bit taller. Growing pains happen when you’re growing fast – and sometimes the pain requires that others come alongside you to help you through.
Last weekend I picked up a pair of pruning shears and went after the overgrowth in my flowerbeds. I am the world’s worst gardener – I am the grim reaper when it comes to plants – but on the occasional Saturday morning I convince myself I’m amazing and I dare to prune, replant, separate, and plant. Sometimes it’s successful.
Anyway, I was reading about pruning (after I had hacked the ever-loving daylights out of the bushes in front of my house) and I learned that while pruning is essential to the health and appearance of a plant, it first wounds the plant. The plant’s response to the wound is what helps it to fill out and reshape so well. As I was pruning, I said to my husband about a dozen times, “I’m certain I’m killing this plant. It will never recover. Will you be upset if this one dies? Oh gosh, I’m sure that was one cut too many!” Pruning is scary, and necessary.
3. We measure growth by milestones
Every time I take my 3 year old into the doctor’s office for her well visit, I fib. If you haven’t taken a child for a well visit before, or if it’s been awhile, let me tell you how this plays out: you go into the exam room and the nurse checks the child’s vitals and then asks you a barrage of questions about the child’s developmental milestones. Without fail, I’ll be taken by total surprise by a question like, “Does she know she’s a girl?” or “Can she stand on her head and recite the Pledge of Allegiance?” so I fib and say, “Yes, of course she can do that,” and I figure we’ll teach her to do that thing when we get home since I missed the Well Visit Study Guide.
The doctor’s office is just trying to check in to measure the child’s growth, of course, because it’s impossible to assess my child without surveying her milestones. As a parent, I do this too, of course, but my milestones are sometimes different from the doctor’s: when that sweet little sleeper is too small, or my daughter surprises me by politely asking for something using a complete sentence, or when I see a picture from a year ago and realize how much older she looks.
As we’ve experienced growth at the Renaissance, we are witnessing the milestones that indicate a resurgence of the arts and culture in our region: new faces, new collaborations, a major shift in our community’s conversation, an improved tone in the media, debt reduction, new projects… it goes on and on.
The sorts of things that we think are growth are actually the milestones. Growth is happening gradually, behind the scenes, slowly knitting our community together as the staff works late to make something really great, or a family decides to spend their day downtown, or a child feels accepted by their new friends at rehearsal, or a couple shares a laugh together in our lobby.
Colleen Cook has been on the staff of the Renaissance Performing Arts Association since 2012, first as the Director of Development and currently as the Director of Marketing and Communications. Before coming to the Renaissance, Colleen obtained her masters degree in Arts Administration at Shenandoah Conservatory, where she also completed graduate work in Contemporary Commercial Voice Pedagogy. Colleen spends her free time involved with the Richland Young Professionals, the Mansfield/Richland Chamber of Commerce, the Ashland Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Park Street Brethren Church. She enjoys cooking, reading great books, and traveling with her husband, Mike, and 2 daughters, Eloise and Coralie.