A Challenge to Find Gratitude

This month, I accepted a challenge to find gratitude and thankfulness everyday. That’s 30 days of thankfulness. It has been uplifting and also eye-opening.

One of the surprises was my thankfulness for COVID-19. Looking at it closer, I believe it forced us all to realize many things like:

-we were living an overly fast-paced life
-touch is a blessing
-hugs can heal
-leaving elder family in the care of others takes away something much more valuable than money
-indeed, there is time to pursue a hobby
-some people seem to eschew infection of the flu

The last point is especially interesting to me.

How Many Times Have You Had the Flu?

Almost everyone I talk to suffered the flu at least once in their lives. This is true of some of my relatives. My mother knows she had the flu once. My eldest son also knows he had the flu. I know I have never had the flu. That’s right, never. I’ve also never had a flu shot. Why would I?

The Last Deadly Flu Pandemic

An article in yesterday’s paper reminded me how the Spanish Flu of 1918-19 affected my life. No, I’m not that old. But my paternal grandparents, Edith and Lenus, were living in Chicago, Illinois in the same rooming house at that time.

How a Pandemic Brought Them Together

Edith was the oldest of a farm family from central Wisconsin. She had been sent, at age 14, to Rockford, Illinois to help a relative during her pregnancy. Edith was forced to leave school. She wasn’t happy about it and soon saw an opportunity to go to Chicago. Traveling by herself she set off for the big city of Chicago and found employment in a hospital cafeteria. By that time, Lenus worked on a Lake Michigan barge, shoveling coal, having immigrated from Sweden at age 17. He found a room at the same boarding house.

My grandfather, Lenus, came down with the Spanish flu. Edith nursed him back to health. She didn’t contract the flu. Their friendship grew and courtship began. My grandmother told me this story and she kept daily diaries on very small tablets, written in beautiful penciled cursive handwriting.

Their wedding took place in 1923. I’m still working with my Wisconsin cousins on determining the exact date, but we all remember celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary in Wisconsin the summer of 1973.

From the formality of their wedding photo, it seems likely it was a big wedding on the family farm. What strikes me about their faces is the smile of Lenus and the sternness of Edith. Knowing them in later years, Lenus didn’t smile much and Edith smiled a lot. Growing up living next door on a Polk County, Florida lake, surrounded by a 10-acre citrus grove contributed to my quiet, country childhood.

I am grateful my grandfather was able to survive the pandemic and my grandmother had a rare immunity. Perhaps her strong constitution flows in my veins, fueled by shared DNA.

A Message of Hope for the Future

This true story of resilience and the effect now triangulate 100 years into the future. Young people who were exposed to COVID-19 and had no symptoms may have a natural immunity and pass it onto their children. Those who overcame their illness now have antibodies and a stronger constitution, which is also genetically and environmentally conducive to stronger future generations.

My Challenge to Find Gratitude

December is looming with holiday stress amplified in this year of the pandemic. Wouldn’t it feel good to find one thing to be grateful for each day in December? And how about sharing this challenge to find gratitude on social media? I pledge to post about gratitude everyday in December. Won’t you join me? You can find me on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook by searching for @dawnoutside.

In gratitude for you,
Dawn

Looking Back to December 2019

Looking back to December 2019, what did you think would happen for you in 2020? I’ll bet it was something pretty monumental, after all not only were we on the cusp of a new year, it was a new decade.

What Do I Know Now?

I realize a lot of the transformations I experienced in 2019 were setting the stage for this incredible opportunity of a pandemic, a worldwide virus that would change everything. Although many people have become ill, even died due to this pandemic. It could be so much worse. I’m so grateful it is not the typical Hollywood end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it catastrophe movie or as devastating as Stephen King’s epic novel, The Stand. Rather, in my life, it is like a stern parent, irritated with our behavior, who has placed us in the corner for a time-out.

What to do With Our Time-Out

The stay-at-home order has stripped away all non-essential activity outside our home base. However, we still have access to our digital world; smart phones, tablets, computers, smart tv, social media. We also can talk to friends and family even while seeing their faces in applications like FaceTime, Facebook Video or Zoom. Perhaps we even visit more now than before.

All these options feed two of our senses, vision and hearing. In contrast, we are feeling deprived of touch, taste, and smell. Do you know how we are feeding these senses? Yes, we are cooking our little hearts out; baking, roasting, sautéing, broiling, and grilling. Sometimes we feed our desire for creativity by pulling items out of the pantry and freezer to pull together a meal. I’m doing these things too, grateful we finally replaced our old gas range the first week in March.

Onto the Next Challenge

This flurry of cooking leads to the next challenge – exercise. Remember earlier when I mentioned my transformations in 2019? Hiring a personal trainer who comes to my home is one of those transformations. Little has changed on that front, except the use of Lysol on equipment and the six-foot distancing rule. I am so grateful for my trainer and our efforts to keep healthy and safe.

My new found yoga practice on Thursday mornings ended almost a month ago. Thankfully, a fellow Dream Creator Mastermind participant is helping me by sharing online gentle yoga like this video from Shelley Nicole. I still have to adjust some positions for my arthritic knees, but it feels so good to participate in yoga again. I’m so grateful for my online social community.

Do You Notice a Theme?

All the changes and challenges of the last months have upped the energy of gratitude in my life. I feel more free, centered, alive, and focused than ever before. Looking back to December 2019, I realize that everything good I expected in my life has come to pass or is in progress. I am grateful for everything and every person in my wonderful life!

If you want to know more about anything I mentioned in this blog, contact me, or better yet, signup for my newsletter, where you will not only receive my blogs, you’ll also know about other opportunities to connect.

Still smiling,

Dawn

Learn How to Give Thanks

Being a Southern girl, I was taught to always give thanks to those who help me. Some of the ways you’ve helped me are; opening my door, listening to my laments, signing up for my newsletter, giving me a difficult message, even literally saving my life. Thank you. There, I’ve lived up to my heritage’s expectation. But is that all there is to learn about giving thanks?

Why Bother Giving Thanks?

I believe everyone benefits from thanks; those who give, those who receive, and those bearing witness. Our energy is greatly affected by the energy that surrounds us. Like attracts like. Grateful feelings grow as they move from one person to the next. And gratitude is so easy to include in your life. Sometimes it shows up as a smile. Try smiling when you don’t have a reason. How does it make you feel? For me, tension leaves and lightness comes in.

When someone is nearby to receive my smile, it magnifies my joy. I have no way of knowing what they are feeling, but often I see their face change. Their eyes light up and their lips lift and broaden into an easy smile. The energy in the room goes up a notch for everyone.

Although it may seem counterintuitive, also remember to thank yourself too.

How do you give thanks to yourself?

Do something nice just for you. As in all things, this is particular to you. By learning to listen to yourself, specific ways you can thank yourself will show up. Think back on occasions when you were alone and happy. Chances are you were showing gratitude for yourself. Examples include window shopping, reading a good book in a cozy chair, stopping to smell a fragrant flower, taking a walk in a garden, choosing a colorful ink pen over utilitarian black, or treating yourself to a luxurious pedicure.

Today I choose to have a pedicure

The first task is selecting the nail polish. There was a wall of choices and the only thing I knew was that I wanted something neutral. I needed help to make such an ‘important’ decision, so I decided to call on my intuition. My gaze scanned through three displays and rested on an OPI bottle. I lifted it to feel the weight, turning it over to see the name, ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’. That cinched the decision.

Carrying my selection to the row of relaxing combination massage chair and pedicure sinks, I selected the next empty seat. The technician, Thi, handed me a menu of pedicure flavors; basic, VIP deluxe, or pearl powder. The high-end pearl powder called my name at first, but once again I checked in with my inner voice and selected the mid-range VIP deluxe. There was a long list of scents. The first choice, ‘High Seas’ seemed appropriate to honor my upcoming cruise.

Once Thi completed the tedious nail trimming, she applied a soothing cleanser, massaging my tired calves and feet. I drifted into a state of nirvana, lulled by the lilting Asian conversation in the background. Before I knew it, Thi was gently rousting me from my dreamlike state. She continued pampering me, treating me like a special person. The calmness in my heart during the pedicure stayed with me the rest of the day.

Once you start living in gratitude, almost everything tends to improve.


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